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


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

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Here is your status.

You just don’t know it yet.

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

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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…?!?)

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…and finding out that you will be living there with 19 other people…

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…you’ll realize this internship might not be as glamorous as the website said.

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

Get used to it.

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

Because apparently everything you do is adorable.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Your boss’s job description:

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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.”

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

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

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

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Or that really young, neurotic intern.

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

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

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That you were not technically INVITED to.

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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.)

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

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

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

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

What they don’t know is this has been going on for three hours.

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…you just resort to this:

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

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

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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.

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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:

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When you would much rather say:

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

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

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But keep your chin up!

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ALWAYS REMEMBER: Your boss was once an unpaid intern.

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

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

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

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

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