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We want to travel to college campuses across the country, asking one key question: What's your internship story? Read more

New York, NY Journalism
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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on June 27, 2013.

We want to travel to college campuses across the country, asking one key question: What's your internship story?

New York, NY Journalism
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About this project

“I was opposed to the job morally, but luckily I’m fortunate enough that my parents supported me while I did it. I know most people aren’t so lucky. It’s just a lousy situation.”

“Living in DC I can’t help but think that the city would shut down if all the hill interns who are literally paying money to work for 40 hours a week, walked out for the day.”

“The intern economy is so awful, and even worse are the adults and other members of this generation who tell me I should feel thankful and lucky for being grossly underpaid and burdened with life-stunting debt at 23 years old. I see no way out.”

These are a just a few stories from more than 240 people who have shared their intern stories with ProPublica so far. 

This Kickstarter is all about documenting the emerging intern economy in the United States – a story hidden in plain sight. Our mission is to hire an intern to help us investigate these stories in a meta/multimedia way. 

Why? Because the number of internships in the U.S. has ballooned over the past few decades, with one recent study estimating more than 50 percent of graduating seniors holding some sort of internship during their time at school. 

But the news media have yet to take a really deep look at this emerging workforce. And protection for interns – especially unpaid interns – has fallen through the cracks. That's why we’ve decided to investigate.

We’ve begun our investigation with a call for intern stories, and more than 240 people have shared their experiences so far. But there are millions of stories to tell.

What we'll do with the funds

Your donations will fund one 16-week fall reporting internship, with travel budget, to produce a microsite on the intern economy. It will launch in August. 

The microsite will feature multimedia reporting and data visualizations that creates a geography of unpaid internships. Our intern will hit the road, traveling to cities and college campuses across the United States to interview current and former interns, employers, career counselors and parents in our attempt to chart the intern economy.

Who benefits most from these internships? What protections exist for interns who encounter discrimination or harassment? Are interns being fairly compensated? These are some of the questions we will tackle.

We’ll use video, animations and graphics to tell the stories, and use new tools to make them interactive. You’ll be able to follow our journey on blogs and social media, in real-time — a new approach to investigative reporting. Instead of spending months reporting behind the scenes, we’re opening our investigation up to provide more opportunities for you – interns, parents, employers, educators and others – to help us report the story.

Your donations will cover the travel, production costs and our intern’s salary. He or she will be paid $700 a week (just like all of our interns).

Who we are

ProPublica is an investigative newsroom in New York. We’ve done a lot of stuff on fracking, hedge funds that helped the economy explode and police misconduct in New Orleans after Katrina (among other things). And our interns do amazing work. What’s in it for you?

Our interns: Theo Meyer, Christie Thompson and Hanna Trudo
Our interns: Theo Meyer, Christie Thompson and Hanna Trudo

What’s in it for you?

For starters, some great swag emblazoned with our Eager Intern Beaver (we thought he was a fitting project mascot). We have also included more ways for donors to participate in our investigation. At each donation level, you’ll be getting the awesome rewards to the right. Two of them (the t-shirt and the tote bag) will have our Eager Beaver, designed for this investigation.

And as a bonus, the Knight Foundation has generously agreed to donate additional money to our project based on how many Kickstarter donations we get. If we get 250 backers, Knight will give us $2,500. So in this case, even $5 really does make a difference.    

If you are an unpaid intern without extra funds to donate, you can still help make this project a success by sharing this Kickstarter campaign with literally everyone you know. Tell your boss. Tell your professors. Tell your friends. Tell your parents. And don’t forget to share your story with us here.

Remember: the more money we raise, the more resources we can put toward telling the millions of intern stories across the nation. If we raise enough, we can even hire two interns to devote to the cause.

Every. Donation. Counts. So please donate.  

Risks and challenges

We're sure we’ll find a wealth of intern stories. But we have a hunch that getting people to talk on-the-record – and especially on camera – could be a challenge. No one wants to miff an employer that, in the future, could possibly lead to a job or letter of recommendation. That said, we have reporters in this office that have covered sensitive topics, and can coach an intern on how to obtain on-the-record statements.

Another challenge will be finding the right intern for the job. We’ll need someone with basic audio, video and investigative reporting skills, as well as on-camera sparkle, that we can train along the way. But we have a wealth of hiring experience, and promise we’ll put our nose to the grindstone to find the best fit by the start of the fall.

And finally, this intern's job will involve travel. This raises a risk that there will be production delays, but we're a creative lot and promise we'll do whatever we can to keep this project on schedule.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

  • Yes. You will receive a receipt for your donation through Amazon.

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  • We won't post a position for this internship unless we meet our Kickstarter goal. So if you're interested in being our intern, help us succeed by sharing this campaign with your friends, family and coworkers! Once the internship is funded, we'll be posting application details here and at propublica.org/jobs.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    158 backers

    Your name (and our sincere thanks) in a contributors gallery published on our site

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $15 or more

    189 backers

    Access to digital project updates as we travel to different universities, with a look at the investigative process. See the thinking behind our reporting.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    151 backers

    Same as above, plus one postcard from the road. You'll also be listed as a project commissioner on our site.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $55 or more

    37 backers

    One T-shirt featuring a custom design inspired by this investigation, and a personal thank you note.

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    Only ships to: United States
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    Pledge $100 or more

    21 backers Limited (3 left of 24)

    A copy of ProPublican's book of your choice, signed with a personal thank you. Choose from: The Taliban Shuffle (5), Run to Failure: BP and the Making of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster (5),
    Money Well Spent?: The Truth Behind the Trillion-Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History (5), Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism (5), Sounding the Trumpet: The Making of John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address (2), Triple Crossing (1), Vanishing Point: The Disappearance of Judge Crater, and the New York He Left Behind (1)

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
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    Pledge $200 or more

    7 backers Limited (23 left of 30)

    The reporter's package: We'll send you a tote bag featuring our investigation's logo,a branded ProPublica reporter's notebook AND you'll also secure a seat on our investigation community board, which will assemble for regular video conference calls with our internships team. Help us decide where our intern goes!

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    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $300 or more

    2 backers Limited (8 left of 10)

    PinkBerry meetup: we'll treat you to a trip to our favorite yogurt bar (with fixings!), with one ProPublican the next time you're in New York + add your name to our contributors gallery.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    Invitation to a pizza party at ProPublica's offices in New York (travel and lodging are up to you.)

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  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    1 backer Limited (1 left of 2)

    A private training workshop on social media and community-building for your organization led by ProPublica's engagement team. Email social@propublica.org with questions.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $10,000

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    A presentation on nonprofit news and changing journalism trends, by founding executive, and current Editor-in-Chief Steve Engelberg. Transportation and lodging are additional, unless your organization is in the NYC area. Email communications@propublica.org to discuss details.

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (30 days)