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December 12, 2018

Philadelphia's interns will now be paid to work at mayor's office

Students will make $12.25 per hour

Government Internships
Mayor Jim Kenney; Thom Carroll photo Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

In this file photo from Jan. 12, 2017, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney answers questions during an interview in his City Hall office.

Philadelphia's Office of the Mayor announced Tuesday that its internship program would start paying interns a living wage year-round — including the 50 incoming students working for Mayor Jim Kenney next summer. 

Summer interns, both undergraduate and graduate, work for a minimum of 25 hours for 10 weeks from June to August in Kenney's office, learning daily operations of the executive branch, getting leadership training, and completing "substantive work assignments," according to the internship posting that's active now.

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The city's Internship Program Manager Gianna Grossmann announced the official change on Tuesday via Twitter. 

Billy Penn reported interns will make $12.25 an hour, a living wage — compared to Pennsylvania's $7.25-per-hour minimum wage — that will be offered not just to the summer interns, but to participating students year-round. The whole year will cost the Mayor's Office about $150,000.

Applications are open to undergrads who have completed their sophomore years prior to June 2019 or graduate-level students, including recently graduated seniors.

The issue of unpaid city government internships was brought to attention by Temple University students last August. Then, the Inquirer called for action in an editorial in September.

Studies show that one in four graduates have had to do an unpaid internship. And a large proportion (43 percent) of those unpaid interns rely on living for free with family and friends. More than a quarter are dependent on money from their parents, the Guardian reported.

Just this week, newly-elected U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out members of Congress who were not paying their interns or their staffs livable wages. 

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