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29 Worst Things About Being An Unpaid Intern In Washington D.C.


Posted on July 22, 2013, at 5:20 p.m. ET

Hello, intern! Welcome to the MOST POWERFUL CITY IN THE WORLD.

Here is your status.

You just don't know it yet.

You will arrive in Washington, D.C. feeling like this:

1. But after metro-ing out to the only housing you can afford (aka Shaw, Trinidad, Anacostia, Brookland, Petworth, and anywhere on the GREEN LINE)...

(Or God help you, you live in VIRGINIA...?!?)

...and finding out that you will be living there with 19 other people...'ll realize this internship might not be as glamorous as the website said.

2. This will, of course, be your regular morning commuter experience.

Get used to it.

3. Immediately you are handed a gigantic badge designating you as an INTERN.

4. You'll quickly have a painful realization that all those tough questions you were asked in your interview were jokes:

5. You will be expected to wear a suit to work every day, even though all the suits you own are hand-me-downs from your gigantic father.

Or if you're a woman, you might need to visit an Ann Taylor, STAT.

But don't worry; no matter how nicely you dress up, you'll still just be doing the same schlep jobs.

6. Because the mentality in DC is:

That is because a vast majority of DC internships are unpaid since Congress granted itself a special exemption from paying its interns.

7. When someone asks for a menial task to be done in a meeting, this is the look you get:

8. And you'll be asked to do work by hand that could easily be done by a trained hedgehog with an Excel spreadsheet.

9. You'll work with technology that is older than your high school diploma.

10. You'll get this stare from full-time staff:

Because apparently everything you do is adorable.

11. And get used to being referred to only as "the intern."


12. If you have a master's degree you'll still be doing this:

13. And you'll always get blamed for your boss's fuck-ups.

When you do something really, really great... you might not get all the credit for it.

14. You'll get yelled at over arbitrary deadlines.

Because who ACTUALLY needs that Malaysian deputy ambassador's remarks translated?

15. And you'll have to take care of your boss's pet when he's on a taxpayer-funded research trip to Fiji.

Your boss's job description:

16. You'll have to stand at attention when the BIG BOSS comes down from Mount Olympus for the compulsory photo-op.

"Your mom is going to love this photo."

17. You'll have to deal with that old mid-level staff member who is always hitting on you.

18. You'll have to talk to other interns.

And maybe work next to that really old, awkward intern.

Or that really young, neurotic intern.

19. And you'll have to hold back when other interns brag about the private companies where they work (for minimum wage).

20. You'll resort to stealing your weekly sustenance from various free receptions around town.

That you were not technically INVITED to.

21. You'll be sent out to the National Mall in 120% humidity to reserve a softball field for your office team THAT YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO PLAY ON.

(Bring a book. You will be sitting there for two hours.)

22. And you'll have to ask your parents for ANOTHER loan so you can buy the $7 happy hour beer.

You'll realize that you had to sit and reserve a softball field as a part of your internship:

23. And you'll go into work hungover the next day:

24. When your manager finds you cruising Facebook, Twitter, BuzzFeed....

What they don't know is this has been going on for three hours. just resort to this:

25. You will have to sit and take notes through hours of mind-numbingly boring panels and hearings that you truly know nothing about.

26. You'll have to live up to those damn SCOTUS super interns that make you look like a lazy ass.

27. And you'll have to deal with people who are making six figures, telling you that a D.C. internship is "priceless" and more valuable than a college education.

28. And somehow after starving, waking up at 6 a.m., and sleeping in a converted project, you are expected to answer every boss's request like:

When you would much rather say:

29. You'll eventually realize that the federal government forcing private businesses pay their interns is a bit hypocritical...

... when they depend on thousands of free laborers each summer.

But keep your chin up!

ALWAYS REMEMBER: Your boss was once an unpaid intern.

You are just on the evolutionary path to D.C. PERSONHOOD!

And if you don't get a job at least you got a cool picture out of it.

(And try not to remember that 2,000 miles away, this is what a PAID internship looks like.)

Google Students/Facebook / Via

To find out more about D.C.'s intern policy, please read: Why Won’t Obama Pay His Interns?

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.