Send Us Your Congressional Intern Horror Stories


Sen. Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Senate Democrats—by default, the least anti-labor party in Congress—wants a full-time intern to help his press shop. There’s only one problem: He wants this person to do it for free.

The Intercept’s Michael Whitney drew attention to the job posting, which appears on the official Senate employment bulletin (See update below):

An excerpt:

It is preferable if the candidate can continue to work through the Winter and into May. Responsibilities include compiling press clips, answering reporter inquiries, organizing press conferences, writing press releases, talking points and memos, conducting research and assisting the Press Staff with the day-to-day operations of a very active press office. Applicants must work well under pressure, have excellent written and oral communications skills and a desire to learn.

This is not an internship. It’s an entry-level job, and one which very few people who aren’t the children of wealthy parents could ever afford to take. What makes this even worse is that Schumer is notorious for “keeping his staff working such long hours that they have no chance to meet other people and end up marrying one another,” which is a direct quote from a moderately positive Washington Post profile earlier this year.

But as bad as this is, Schumer might not even be the worst Senator to intern for from his own state, according to former Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand intern and current Business Insider reporter Grace Panetta.

Schumer and Gillibrand, of course, aren’t alone in not paying their interns. Last year, Mic looked into how many senators pay their interns and found that while at least 42 had accepted applications for paid internship positions, at least 50—including Schumer and Gillibrand—weren’t paying their interns.

While there’s been a push to allocate money specifically for hiring interns in the Senate, all of this got us curious about working conditions for the most junior staff members in the offices of some of the most powerful people in the country.

So we’re asking. If you are or have been a congressional intern, either in D.C. or your home state, send us details of your experiences of working for politicians and their staff to either here or here. If you wish to remain anonymous, that’s fine too. And as for members of Congress and any entity which employs interns: pay them, you assholes.

Update, 7:56 p.m. ET: After the publication of this post, Schumer’s office sent along a statement saying that the posting was “made in error,” and that “Starting in January, Senator Schumer’s office will offer a stipend to eligible interns.” Good.

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