DC Interns

Andrew Sullivan links an amusing blog devoted entirely to complaining about DC interns, who are depicted as stupid, rude, and annoying.  I’m sure a large contingent of them exist that are some or all of those things.

The fact remains, however, that many DC offices couldn’t function without a large contingent of interns, most of whom are unpaid or receive only nominal stipends.  Certainly, the Atlantic Council couldn’t.  We rely on our unpaid interns — whom we employ year round on a rotating basis, with classes roughly corresponding to the Fall/Spring/Summer academic cycle — to do most of the grunt work so that our paid staff can concentrate on coordination, writing, and the like.  All for a line on a résumé, experience in the field, and some contacts.

I’m not sure how ours behave on the Metro or otherwise out on the town but they’re almost invariably polite, well dressed, and professional at the office.  While we’re fortunate to have a wealth of strong candidates to choose from and can thus be picky, that’s likely the case for Congressional offices and other major nonprofits, too.   So I’m guessing the kids who irritate the writer of that blog are either atypical or just young folks who are there precisely for the purposes of learning how to fit in at a professional setting and making the mistakes that are the essence of learning.

UPDATE: I’m informed by one of our former interns (who was subsequently hired by us for a paying gig before moving on to greener pastures) that the site in question is plagiarized from a book called Look at My Striped Shirt.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Eric Florack says:

    I suspect part of this is Florack’s Law Number 3: People, given a chance to bitch, will… about anything.