UNPAID POSITION

Paul Ryan doesn’t understand why this selfie shows the problem with internships

This item has been updated.

“I think this sets a record for the most number of #CapitolHill interns in a single selfie. #SpeakerSelfie,” reads the caption to speaker of the house Paul Ryan’s Instagram, which features dozens of young men and women who have recently started their prestigious internships for the GOP.

Something Ryan doesn’t mention, but that online commentators were quick to ridicule: the photo is almost entirely made up of white people. As a term of comparison, the pictures and profiles of interns shared by the Democratic party looks remarkably more diverse.

That gets at a larger issue: internships are a great opportunities, for those who can afford them. Most US lawmakers do not pay a salary to their college-aged labor force. Ryan’s office notes that it is “unable to offer paid internships.”

The ubiquity of unpaid internships means that the many college students, especially minorities who are more likely to face challenging financial circumstances, are missing out on important career opportunities. Unpaid internships are a tool that enables the privileged to maintain their status.

Quartz has reached out to Ryan’s team for comments and will update with relevant information.

Update: This post was updated to include a link to the photo of Democratic party interns.

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