Jun 2, 2022
 in 
Politics

Minority First-Generation Professionals Finally Have a Shot to Apply for Paid Internship at the White House.

The application for the Fall 2022 session will open on Monday, June 6 and close on Friday, June 24. Link will be updated HERE when the application opens. 

Main Subject 

The Biden-Harris administration announced Thursday the launch of the White House Internship Program. For the first time in history, White House interns will be paid with the first session commencing in Fall 2022. The paid internships comes after years of advocates pushing for greater equity and intern pay. With White House interns being paid for the first time this fall, this opens the doors of the prestigious program to lower-income applicants, BIPOC/minorities who are U.S citizens and are first generation professionals new to the workforce. 

Key Facts : 

  • The Biden-Harris White House aims to reflect the ‘Diversity of America’ by paying interns for the first time in history. 
  • In a press release, the White House said,
“ Too often, unpaid federal internships have been a barrier to hardworking and talented students and professionals, preventing them from contributing their talents and skills to the country and holding them back from federal career advancement opportunities. This significant milestone of paying White House interns will help remove barriers to equal opportunity for low-income students and first-generation professionals at the beginnings of their careers and help to ensure that those who receive internships at the White House—and who will be a significant part of the leadership pipeline across the entire federal government—reflect the diversity of America.” 
  •  The funds for paying interns come from bipartisan legislation that the President signed in March. The Senate passed a $1.5 trillion government funding bill, which includes $4.5 million to fund the White House and Executive Office internship program. The bill, which had bipartisan support, helped avert a government shutdown and includes billions in aid for Ukraine. President Joe Biden signed the omnibus on March 16.
  • This funding provides for paid internships across the Executive Office of the President. Interns participating in the White House Internship Program will support the White House Office and the Office of the Vice President. 
  • The White House Internship Program is a public service leadership and development program that provides emerging leaders with an opportunity to gain valuable skills while supporting the work of the White House and furthering the priorities of the Biden-Harris Administration. Each year, leaders from around the country participate in the White House Internship Program to dedicate their time, energy, and experience to serve the country through public service. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, it is a paid internship for the first time in recent history.


Questions:

1. With the White-House Paying Interns for the First Time in History, Could this Truly be a Game Changer for Minority First-Generation Professionals? 

According to the Insider, "A White House internship is the equivalent of a Rhodes Scholarship, in terms of prestige," said Carlos Mark Vera, the executive director of Pay Our Interns, which has been behind the push to make Congressional, White House, and State Department internships paid.  He's also a former unpaid intern at the White House. "You do the White House internship, you're pretty set. Most doors open."  

I imagine that for minority first generation professionals, because the White House internship program has always been an unpaid opportunity, most minorities from low-income households or marginalized backgrounds would not have been able to afford the opportunity cost of interning at the White House even if they applied and got accepted. I wonder, why has paid internships never existed in the history of the White House?

Looking back at history, in 2013, the Obama White House was put under pressure to pay its interns and heavily criticized for not paying them. The Fair Pay Campaign, a grassroots lobby called on then President Obama to pay White House interns in order to set an example for other government agencies and private employers. In a CNN article, Mikey Franklin, the leader of Fair Pay's charge said, "We have a minimum wage law in this country, and just because you call someone an intern doesn't mean you get out of it," The biggest issue Franklin was pointing out then, is that interns working for no pay at the White House seems unimaginable, particularly as student loans skyrocket and more young people are forced to live at home. It creates a situation where only a privileged few can afford to work in these prestigious jobs.

"If you want to break into these industries, you have to work for free," he said. "That's not a reality for a lot of people who aren't upper middle class."

Another CNN op-ed argued that "It’s just one of many ways middle-class and poor Americans are being left behind in the age of income inequality. The system seems rigged to ensure that wealthier Americans have a much better chance at success than their poorer counterparts."

Image: President Barack with 2014 White House summer interns. July 29, 2014. (by Pete Souza)

In 2017, Trump's White House intern selection was criticized for lack of diversity. The photo of summer interns surrounding President Trump gave an overall impression of a sea of white faces, with those who appear to be people of color dramatically outnumbered. That’s despite the fact that almost half of millennials in the United States are minorities.

Here's a quick analysis of Trump White House Interns 2017: (Total interns =115 ; Men= 81; Women= 34; Black men= 2; Black women=0)

Image: Photo of Trump White House Summer Interns. (July 24, 2017.)

 In a statement by the White House:

“President Biden and Vice President Harris have committed to building an Administration that looks like America, believing that qualified people from every background and walk of life should have equal opportunity to serve our Nation. That commitment is reflected in each White House Internship Program class, and all who are interested and meet the established criteria are highly encouraged to apply.”

Here’s what President Biden said:

“Opening doors of opportunity, guaranteeing some more fairness and justice — that’s the essence of America. That’s democracy in action.”
  1. How Much Will Interns be Paid?

Interns will be paid at a rate of $750 a week, according to the Frequently Asked Questions section of the White House Internship Program site. With interns expected to work a minimum of 35 hours a week, that means they’d earn an hourly rate of $21.43. Interns would receive the money in two stipends, at the beginning and end of the program.

How to Apply for Internship at the White House: 

Interested candidates can find the Program’s online application at WH.gov/intern . The website also features additional information about the Program, including a “Frequently Asked Questions” section. The application for the Fall 2022 session will open on Monday, June 6 and close on Friday, June 24.  

The Fall 2022 session will be hosted in-person on the White House campus. Program leadership will continue to monitor the public health landscape related to COVID-19 and will adapt the Program’s approach in order to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. All interns will be required to attest to their vaccination status and must adhere to any White House COVID-19 protocols.

Key Dates for the Fall 2022 Session

Applications will be reviewed by the White House Internship Program team on a rolling basis during the application window; completed applications will be reviewed as soon as they are received. Therefore, candidates are encouraged to submit their applications sooner rather than later in the application period.

  • The application for the Fall 2022 session will open on Monday, June 6 and close on Friday, June 24.
  • Selected applicants will be notified the week of August 8, 2022.
  • The Fall 2022 program will be a 14-week program, beginning on Monday, September 12 and ending on Friday, December 16.

Eligibility Requirements

The Fall 2022 session will be hosted in-person on the White House campus. Interns will not be able to participate in the program remotely. All interns will be required to attest to their vaccination status and must adhere to any White House COVID-19 protocols.

Program participants must be U.S. citizens, at least 18 years or older before the first day of the program, and meet at least one of the three following criteria:

  • Currently enrolled in an accredited undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college, community college, or university (two-to four-year institution)
  • Graduated from an accredited undergraduate or graduate program at a college, community college, or university (two-to four-year institution) no more than two years prior to the first day of the internship program
  • A veteran of the United States Armed Forces who possesses a high school diploma or its equivalent and has served on active duty, for any length of time, no more than two years prior to the first day of the program

Prospective candidates with questions about the Program, as well as college/university administrators, faculty, campus leadership, and others interested in more information to share with their communities can reach out to the White House Internship Program team at internship@who.eop.gov.

Statements  from Past White House Interns

“My internship at the White House was a daily reminder that showing up, working hard, and trying to make a positive difference for my country was how I hoped to spend the rest of my career, and that whatever I did next, I hoped it would be in service of the country.”

Allison Wong, White House Intern Fall 2012. Senior Associate Director in the office of Presidential Personnel 2021-22.

“ I would immerse into this culture of pay your dues and grind, hustle. I had a lot of challenges doing my unpaid internships coming from a working class background. Now, the funding has removed a barrier for more working class interns. It's the culmination of years of organizing after a group of over 200 former White House interns called upon the incoming Biden administration to make internships paid. The fact that the White House — that the president — would be paying his own interns, I think will send a very strong message to the nonprofit world, other agencies, local government. Like, hey, if the White House is finally paying, which they never have, maybe we need to start." 

Carlos Mark Vera, the executive director of Pay Our Interns.

Article authored by Adedayo Fashanu, TANTV White House Correspondent

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