I interned for a Congressman in Washington, DC in the late 1990s (Daniel Patrick Moynihan to be exact, yes, he was a Democrat). I used that unpaid internship to find my first paid job in Washington on the Senate Finance Committee on which Moynihan was Ranking Member. I and literally thousands of other policy wonks and even politicians can credit an unpaid internship in Congress with getting them started in their careers in politics and policy. To this day, one of the most notable things if you walk around the Congressional office buildings is the striking number of young people roaming those halls.
New Mexico’s Congressional delegation also relies heavily on unpaid interns as reported by Rob Nikolewski. This flies in the face of the efforts of liberal activists who are campaigning to eliminate such unpaid internships. More importantly, the reliance on unpaid internships illustrates the apparent hypocrisy of the four Democrats from New Mexico (and just about any Democrat in Washington) who supports efforts to raise the minimum wage to $10/hour while they directly benefit from unpaid interns. Under current laws, if you want to pay someone $5 an hour, that’s illegal, but if you don’t pay them at all and call it an “internship,” it’s okay. Ya gotta love Washington!
I benefited from my unpaid internship despite having to work part-time jobs to make it work. I learned that I loved public policy, but had no interest in working on the Hill long-term. Shouldn’t other young people, not just those working in Congress, have the ability to work for a bargain-basement wage that they and their prospective bosses agree to in order to gain valuable work experience? It would seem that 4 of New Mexico’s 5 members of Congress would say “no.”