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Posted at 11 a.m. on June 14, 2013
Dylan Matthews of The Washington Post has a story out that touches on a classic Capitol Hill question: Should unpaid internships be illegal?
According to Judge William Pauley of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the answer is yes, if those internships are with for-profit companies and mimicking the work of paid employees.
But are unpaid internships a right of passage? Or just a ferryboat for the elite to the top jobs in the hard-to-breakthrough industries? And — most importantly for Hill Navigator — where would Congress be without the interns?
Matthews quotes Ross Perlin, author of “Intern Nation” who believes that the change in the unpaid intern culture can start in D.C.:
A logical place to start, he says, would be D.C. “Congress has exempted its own interns from fair labor standards act,” he says. “That’s something waiting to be addressed.”
Whoa. Hill Navigator has argued several times that the best way to get on Capitol Hill is to find a way to get that coveted Capitol Hill experience. The easiest way to do that is usually through an unpaid internship.
Paid internships exist, too, as do internships through a college or university. Unfortunately, tighter office budgets and the surplus of intern applications to intern spots will still tip the scale in favor of unpaid interns. And even in the Twitter-fast times of today, Congress is usually slow to make a shift in the way it does business.
But take heart: Even a change toward more paid internships can have greater benefits for anyone who wants to break into Capitol Hill.