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Power Station

Mar 22, 2021

When Carlos Mark Vera started out at American University he imagined a life in politics. It happened but in a very different way then he expected. He won an internship on Capitol Hill, experience that employers in the political ecosystem deem essential. But when he walked the halls of Congress, he did not see himself, a young person color, among his fellow interns. Most wore nicer clothes than even the paid staffers and because they were not juggling school and an internship with paid jobs, were able to socialize after work. He realized that unpaid internships benefit white and well-off students and virtually exclude low-income people of color from tables where the most critical policy decisions are made. What happened next, from an advocacy perspective where change is slow at best, is extraordinary. It started with knocking on the doors of 535 members of Congress to survey who paid their interns to the passage of a congressional line item. And now, Pay Our Interns, the nonprofit he founded, is tackling unpaid internships in the nonprofit and corporate sectors. Carlos is the best of a new and brilliant breed of organizers. Hear him.