Living and working in D.C. is expensive. But do you know what’s even pricier than shelling out $1600 for an English basement in Dupont Circle? Working an unpaid internship while forking over that rent money.
Rent, even for just a summer, costs a good chunk of change here in America’s capital. So does purchasing weekly groceries (hey, even ramen costs $$), riding the metro, and — especially if you’re interning on Capitol Hill — buying professional dress clothes.
This system of unpaid internships disadvantages aspiring interns who can’t afford to work for free, and it disproportionately impacts people of color. It’s a big part of the reason that so few Hill chiefs of staff are people of color; interns become staffers who become chiefs. The same dynamic on the Hill applies to campaigns and campaign-adjacent firms like ours. If interns aren’t paid, we’re effectively depriving people without the means to work for free of the opportunity to participate in the political process, and we’re depriving ourselves of a range of perspectives that are necessary for the progressive movement.
The door then slams shut in the faces of those potential interns. They lose the opportunity to better our politics and our nation. And we as a party, and as progressives, lose far more than we know.
Unpaid internships are not progressive. But thanks to the tireless advocacy of organizations like Pay Our Interns, congressional offices, presidential campaigns, and firms in the political space are quickly replacing “unpaid” with “paid” in their internship job descriptions.
Rising Tide Interactive is proud to offer part-time paid internships ($15/hour) across our company. Because we know it’s not enough to pay lip service to the progressive values that drive our daily work in Democratic politics: We need to live those values. Anything else is just not good enough.
So if you know someone who’s interested in getting their foot in the door at one of the best digital firms in politics, send them our way. But first, be sure to mention that we’ll never ask them to work for free.