February 18, 2021

Castro Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Pay State Department Interns

WASHINGTON – Today, February 18th, 2021, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations, and Global Corporate Social Impact, reintroduced his bipartisan legislation guaranteeing financial support and paid internships at the U.S. State Department. The Department of State Student Internship Program Act would require internships at the State Department to be compensated and authorizes the Department to provide housing and travel for individuals who are interning far from their place of residence. This legislation will make the prestigious internship opportunities at the State Department more accessible to young people of all backgrounds, contributing to ongoing efforts both to pay interns for their work and to create a more diverse pipeline of American diplomats.

“As we rebuild our infrastructure for diplomacy, we must ensure that we are creating real opportunities for young people regardless of their background to gain valuable experience and start careers in diplomacy and foreign policy,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro. “This commonsense legislation will make internships at the State Department fairer, more rewarding, and more open to all, and is a crucial part of my focus on ensuring American diplomats reflect the diversity of the American people.”  

"The State Department should have a workforce that reflects the diversity of our great nation as they represent the United States on the world stage,” said Congressman Lee Zeldin. “By providing paid internships at the Department of State, more students from across the country will be able to follow their interest in foreign affairs and pursue a career in public service. It’s an honor to work with Congressman Castro on this bipartisan legislation, which requires no new Congressional appropriation, to make these students’ dreams a reality.” 

Original co-sponsors of the Department of State Student Internship Program Act include Representatives Castro, Zeldin, Sherman, Bass, Cohen, Schiff, Carson, Jackson Lee, Lowenthal, Meeks, Velazquez, Carbajal, Meng, Jones, Titus, Khanna, McGovern, Payne, Lee, and Tlaib. The reintroduced legislation also has the support of several leading organizations focused on supporting internship opportunities and diversity in foreign policy, 

“The American Academy of Diplomacy fully endorses and strongly supports the Department of State Student Internship Program Act,” said Ronald Neumann of the American Academy of Diplomacy, “America’s diplomacy needs the best and brightest for the work of the future. Paid internships will open the door to merit based competition without regard to economic means. It will thus expand to all American students the opportunity to experience the work of diplomacy and consider it as a future profession.”

“The Department of State Student Internship Program Act is a necessary step toward dismantling the barriers young people of color and from low-income backgrounds face in starting their careers in foreign policy,” said Carlos Mark Vera, Executive Director of Pay Our Interns.“This bill gives underrepresented groups the fair access to opportunities through paid experiences, and we applaud Representative Castro and the bill’s co-sponsors for their leadership on the important equity issue.”

“Diversity is a strategic asset for any organization, and we need an all-of-the-above approach to achieving that goal at the State Department,” said Andrew Albertson, Executive Director of Foreign Policy for America. “Paid internships are an important part of the solution because they help build a pipeline of talented, diverse candidates coming from across the country. We know that when those internships aren’t paid, they become inaccessible for too many students, with the result that the Department loses out on talented Americans with unique and compelling backgrounds – often, from communities of color – who are interested in careers of service. It’s well past time to end that outdated practice.”

In addition to the American Academy of Diplomacy, Pay Our Interns, and Foreign Policy for America, other organizations in support of Rep. Castro’s legislation include Inclusive America, Truman National Security Project, the Center for American Progress, the American Academy of Diplomacy, 18by Vote, Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security, and Out in National Security

You can view the full legislative text here.