WISH Supports Paid Internships on Capitol Hill

By Jean-Marie Leonard| May 28, 2019

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For every student who gets the chance to come to D.C. for a life-changing internship, there are dozens who miss out due to the cost of housing and other financial factors.  When Congress decided to pay interns working on Capitol Hill last year, educators, parents, and students cheered believing that the playing field had finally been leveled for students who have financial challenges. WISH supports paid internships on Capitol Hill and YES, there is money allocated to each office in the House and Senate, but that does not mean every intern will have access to those funds. As usual, nothing goes smoothly in Congress and the House’s attempts to develop guidelines has bogged down the process, leaving summer interns in an uncertain posture.

One of the reasons why students choose to intern through WISH is because of our intern-only housing, which makes it more affordable to work an unpaid internship on or near Capitol Hill.  Since WISH only caters to schools and students, exclusively offering over 30 properties, we successfully help offset the strains of unpaid internships.

According to a recent Bloomberg article, “In 2018, House members paid 576 interns, with the average paid intern receiving about $2,200 for two months of work. According to Rent Cafe, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment on Capitol Hill is $2,418 per month.”

In RollCall,The spending bill that was signed into law in September included $8.8 million to pay interns in the House. Each office was allocated $20,000 in a newly created account, separate from the Members’ Representational Allowance funds. The resolution adds a new classification of an employee to the “Members’ Congressional Handbook” and inserts language to clarify that interns in the paid internship program “are subject to the same federal laws and regulations, House Rules, House regulations, and Ethics regulations as interns who may be paid with MRA funds.” Senate offices have $50,000 allocated per office with the same logistical issues.

10 Tips for a Successful WISH D.C. Internship

Interns paid out of this fund must work in the Washington office, and interns in district offices are not eligible. They also do not count against the members’ employee staff ceiling.

Still, this doesn’t guarantee every intern gets paid. When you factor in food, weekend activities and transportation, the costs are prohibitive for many students, who would otherwise, venture to DC for a life-changing experience.

Is it still worth it?  YOU BET IT IS!!!

WISH has over 25 years of alumni in our vast network, who can attest that their internships were a significant factor in not only changing their lives for the better but also giving them an immediate edge when they ventured out into the job market.

Paid internships on Capitol Hill still have a ways to go, but we are seeing progress.  Certainly, it’s a start and hopefully, this program will allow some students, who otherwise would have to pass up the DC internship experience, the chance to intern on Capitol Hill.

We encourage educators, parents, and students to check out our WISH website to see how affordable it is to intern in the nation’s capital.  You will be pleasantly surprised how doable it may be to intern in DC in the Fall semester, regardless of what Congress decides to do by then.

Who is Jean-Marie Leonard?

Jean-Marie Leonard is Vice President of School Partnerships and Student Engagement.  Ms. Leonard came to WISH in 2016 and she is responsible for partnering with colleges and universities from around the nation while coordinating WISH intern-focused events and projects.

Ms. Leonard has extensive experience working with thousands of college-age students who live in intern-only facilities that are fully furnished, inconvenient Capitol Hill locations, which are metro-accessible.  One of Ms. Leonard’s current priorities is growing school partnerships by forming relationships and negotiating agreements with schools (public and private), as well as other organizations.

For more information go to www.InternsDC.com.

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