Three years ago, I embarked on an unexpected journey, one that would change the course of my life and ultimately bring a passion unlike any other. I started a nonprofit.
Alongside my counterpart, Carlos Mark Vera, I launched a social media campaign which would quickly turn into our full-time jobs: Pay Our Interns. We knew we had a message that resonated with people, and as momentum from our advocacy grew, we began to see the framework for a much larger movement — one which would give voice to the voiceless.
Three years since our launch, Congress has allocated more than $30 million in intern pay, almost all major presidential candidates have agreed to pay their campaign interns, and we’re seeing ripple effects outside of Washington with city halls, art museums, organizations and more starting to pay their interns.
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The movement is strong, but many people have yet to feel the effects of the movement. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated more than 1 million people will take on an internship each year, many recognizing it as their first steps into their career, but why should this step come at such a high price?
To be a more inclusive society, we must ensure all levels of the workforce are equitable, and that starts with paying our interns.
This movement is far from over, and it needs you. Whether you’re an intern, employer or retiree, everyone plays a role in augmenting this movement. No more “Back in my day, we worked for free” or “You gain valuable experience.”
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Too many young people are already struggling with the rising costs of higher education to endure another bill. As U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., so bluntly put it, “Experience doesn’t pay the bills.”
Recently, a group of interns — all of whom are unpaid — approached us with the audacious idea to amplify and unite the voices of interns across America.
Griffen Saul, Pay Our Interns’ Initiative Coordinator, said, “This movement is about all of us. We are faced with a choice to either remain complacent with existing inequities or empower one another to fight for the future of our generation, and the generations to come.”
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That’s why we need your help.
The time to urge corporations and organizations to pay their interns is now. For this movement to succeed and create a more equitable society for young people, it needs your support. Join us on Nov. 20 as we gather in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. from 9:30–11:30 a.m. to say it’s time to Pay Our Interns.
Don’t live in D.C.? Email us at [email protected] to organize a satellite rally in solidarity for the movement. Because only as one voice can we change people’s minds and introduce them to the intern movement that is “Interns for Change.”
Pay Our Interns is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that advocates for more paid internships and expanding workforce development opportunities among youth. A student’s socioeconomic status should not be a barrier to getting real-world work experience. POI is headquartered in Washington, D.C. For more information visit www.payourinterns.com.