The White House announced on Thursday that for the first time in history its interns will be paid.
“Too often, unpaid federal internships have been a barrier to hardworking and talented students and professionals, preventing them from contributing their talents and skills to the country and holding them back from federal career advancement opportunities,” the White House said in a statement announcing the new 14-week program, which will begin this fall.
Participants must be U.S. citizens, at least 18 years old, and either currently enrolled in college, within two years of having graduated from college, or a military veteran who is no more than two years removed from active duty. Candidates can apply online beginning Monday.
The internships will be funded through a provision in the $1.5 trillion government funding bill that President Biden signed into law in March.
Previous administrations have been criticized for not paying White House interns or covering their expenses, which has kept many qualified candidates from applying. Activists were highly critical of the Obama administration’s push for increasing the minimum wage while it was employing unpaid interns.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, about 40% of internships at for-profit companies in 2021 were unpaid.
“Paying interns will help remove barriers to equal opportunity for low-income students and first-generation professionals at the beginnings of their careers,” the White House added, “and help to ensure that those who receive internships at the White House — and who will be a significant part of the leadership pipeline across the entire federal government — reflect the diversity of America.”
The program will also be the first with a full class of interns since Biden took office. Previous classes have been reduced in size due to the COVID-19 pandemic.