Meet the 28-year-old behind the White House’s decision to pay its interns

VSArlos Mark Vera, the 28-year-old founder of Pay Our Interns, has won his six-year battle to secure pay for White House interns. To celebrate, he bikes the 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money for AIDS and HIV research.

Vera, who has had three different unpaid government internships, has lobbied Congress to make sure future interns don’t need to work evenings as restaurant servers or forego meals to make ends meet for a while. their internship. This week, the White House announced it would pay its 2022 fall class of interns, marking the first time the jobs have come with a salary. Interns, who can start applying on Monday, will be paid $750 per week, or $18.75 per hour for 40 hours.

Vera, who was part of the 2019 edition Forbes The Law & Policy Under 30 list said young people should be free to focus on opportunities, rather than pay, early in their careers. “The goal from the beginning has been to create fairer pathways across all sectors,” Vera said. Forbes. “Whether it’s media, philanthropy, the private sector, we just need to end up with professionals who reflect this country’s diverse community.”

Vera spent part of her childhood in Victorville, California, in public housing with the help of a government food program. He attended American University in Washington, but did not pass because he spent a lot of time defending the school’s food services and janitors. After government internships with the European Parliament, the White House and former US Representative Joe Baca, Vera is now the executive director of Pay Our Interns, which he founded in 2016 and says he will now champion industry interns private.

Vera credits her crusade with teaching her how to shape her message to appeal to different kinds of people — in this case, senators and congressmen on both sides of the aisle who would vote on a budget that would provide funds. to pay interns.

“With Democrats, we were like, ‘You can’t talk about raising the minimum wage or a living wage, but then not practice it in your offices,'” Vera says. “And with Republicans, we’re like, ‘Look, this isn’t a handout. People still need to work.

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