This week, we have teamed up with Guillermo Creamer Junior from Pay Our Interns, a non-profit organisation situated in Washington D.C. in the United States. As a student-run initiative in Australia, we wanted to gain a greater insight into the internship situation in America. What we found was that laws surrounding internships in American and Australia were incredibly similar! We also discovered that both countries had similar perceptions of internships and the necessity of work experience in gaining an entry-level job in most career paths.
For example, when we spoke to Guillermo we found that like Australia, internships in America were intended as an educational experience, meaning an intern should benefit most out of the experience, not the business! However, Guillermo noted that like Australia, this was usually not the case!
Guillermo specifically noted that internships in America were perceived as a “rite of passage” and that “many entry-level jobs require real-life work experience making internships essential to your resume”. This is not unlike Australia, and as Guillermo noted this system is skewed toward the benefit of privileged students who are financially secure and can afford to work for free across a period of a few months.
Therefore, Guillermo and his business partner Carlos were encouraged to start Pay Our Interns, because they had the first-hand experience of the inequality of unpaid internships. Guillermo also recognised that in his experience, internships in America lacked diversity. He noted that as a member of a cultural minority group in America, individuals like him and Carlos were usually cleaners and cafeteria workers. Thus, they were prompted to start Pay Our Interns, to help other students from a non-privileged background and minority groups gain equal access to internship and work experience opportunities.
This mission first began with sharing their own stories and prompting others, like them, to share theirs as well. However, this mission and belief snowballed into something much greater with a far-reaching impact. Just recently, they assisted in passing a $US14 million grant dedicated to funding internships in Congress in the United States. Furthermore, they are continuing to branch out and tackle other industries and advocate for paid internships in other departments. Additionally, they aim to overcome the stigma around internships and inform businesses of the importance, value, and benefit of paying interns and investing their future.
Guillermo and Carlos continue to actively promote and live-out their message in their business. They have had three paid interns to date and will continue to practice what they preach and help other students from all walks of life, gain equal access to internship opportunities.
We at Informed Interns strongly believe and align ourselves with the values and mission Guillermo and Carlos continue to promote and encourage. As a team of three from very different cultural backgrounds and circumstance, we recognise that unpaid internships are grossly unfair and promote inequality. We hope, that like Pay Our Interns, we can make a legitimate and long-lasting difference to the Australian internship landscape and help all students gain the invaluable benefits internships offer for young people’s future careers.
On behalf of my team at Informed Interns, I would like to extend my gratitude to Guillermo from Pay Our Interns for participating in this interview and giving us insight into the internship situation in America and his business. We are grateful for the opportunity you have given us and would like to extend our full support in your business and your mission.
For some more information on what Pay Our Interns is all about, check out the video below.