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Guess Who's the Only 2016 Presidential Candidate Who Pays His Interns?

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Natasha Hakimi Zapata
Assistant Editor and Poetry Editor
Natasha Hakimi Zapata is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Latin American Literature at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. She also holds a Creative Writing M.F.A. from Boston University and both a…
Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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Back in December, when there were still 16 candidates running for president, The Washington Post reported a surprising figure: Only one had paid interns, and many readers will likely be unsurprised to learn it was none other than Bernie Sanders.

But that doesn’t stop some candidates, such Sanders’ rival Hillary Clinton, from waxing poetic about the student debt crisis while their campaigns take on unpaid interns. Seems all those Wall Street donations just aren’t enough to pay fair wages or close the gender pay gap.

From The Washington Post:

… Unlike volunteers, who set their own schedules and enjoy unlimited coffee and appreciation, interns compete for the prestige of working in demanding jobs without pay. In return, these privileged few get to add the experience to their résumés and try to win favor with future employers.

This is a particularly devastating equation for black and Hispanic students, who generally do not have the same financial resources as their white counterparts. A recent Pew Research Center study found that the median wealth of white households is more than 10 times that of Hispanic households and 13 times that of black households. There is a racial divide between students wealthy enough to participate in internship programs and those who lack the financial reserves to do so.

The opportunity gap is further compounded by the crushing amount of debt that leaves 7 out of 10 students an average of $29,000 in the hole when they graduate from college. As a result, unpaid internships calcify the distinct advantages and opportunities enjoyed by children of the white wealthy class.

Yet, although many of the leading candidates for president bemoan the eroding middle class and rising social inequality, they seem to suffer from cognitive dissonance when it comes to unpaid internships.

In August, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton tweeted an application for unpaid interns, requiring a résumé and two letters of reference. Just a few days later, she was posting about the student debt crisis. … But of the 16 candidates running for president, only one pays his interns: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), at $10.10 an hour.

Read more.

— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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