Journalism in the Public Interest

Meet Our Kickstarter Intern!

You helped us raise over $22,000 to hire an intern to help us investigate the intern economy. Now, help us welcome Casey McDermott.


We’re very pleased to announce that we have selected an intern to help us investigate the intern economy. Meet Casey McDermott!  

Casey is a recent graduate of Penn State University, and will join us fresh off an internship at the Chronicle of Higher Education, where she covered several aspects of the student experience (including a piece on schools’ role in fostering unpaid internships). Before that, Casey was Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Collegian at Penn State. While there, she guided the paper’s coverage of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and helped oversee the launch of their mobile app and mobile website.

As an intern herself, McDermott said she’s excited to explore this issue. “There's been no shortage of debate surrounding this issue,” she said. “But it demands serious attention from reporters who are willing to look beyond the rhetoric — examining internships from legal, financial and other perspectives. I'm excited to have the chance to help ProPublica take a closer look at the intern economy and its implications for the people who keep it running.”

We’re excited to add Casey’s unique mix of accountability reporting experience, keen editorial judgment and multimedia skills to our internship team. She’ll start here at ProPublica HQ on September 3rd, and will hit the road soon after that to document the intern experience on the ground. What kind of support is available to those who may not be able to afford an unpaid internship? Are schools doing their part to ensure unpaid internships are educational and beneficial? These are some of the questions Casey will be looking into.

We’re still working out the details of Casey’s route, so stay tuned for updates on how to follow her journey. You can also follow her on Twitter.

And of course, a huge thank you to everyone who made this possible by donating to our Kickstarter campaign! We literally couldn’t have done this without you.

For more from our internships investigation, read our explainer on how unpaid interns aren't protected against sexual harassment, explore lawsuits unpaid interns have brought against employers and share your intern story with us.

you raised $22,000 for one intern? why is that still called an internship, and not a job?

Blair Hickman

Aug. 13, 2013, 2:47 p.m.

Hi Lara,

That $22,000 covers all costs of hiring our intern, including salary of $700/ week and all travel and production expenses.


hi blair,

but why, with what seems a decent salary of $700 a week, is this position still called an internship? 
it seems that casey is on a serious assignment/job that should be labeled as such.
this of course raises the obvious question: when do qualified people actually get the chance to enter the job market and can stop performing unpaid (entry level) jobs disguised as internships?

although it’s catchy because of the subject-matter, i think it’s ironic that this position is labeled an internship, when the pay and responsibilities seem that of an actual job. not to imply that casey doesn’t deserve a job; i heartily congratulate her - after already having finished three internships herself!
(from what i read on this page and her website)

Hi Lara,

Internships are temporary by nature. Both Casey and ProPublica know upfront that when the $22,000 is gone (apparently in 32 weeks or less), the organization will have no additional obligation to Casey.

If Casey were a full-time hire, as you suggest, the relationship would be different.

I worked as an intern a few years ago. My salary was about $12,000 (Twelve Thousand United States Dollars) per month.  $700 per week as salary for an intern is very reasonable and not excess.

I find that amount of money a lot(!!!). I am from Europe and am not sure how to look at this. I am used, on a college-level, to a 12-13 weeks internship and a avarage salary of €300-500 per month.
In my case I have to follow two internships over four collegyears. Depending on the study and the situation the company will cover housing/living and travel costs. Otherwise the costs are yours.
As an intern I am cheap labor for many companies. The internship is a free chance to get knowledge and experience and a good salary isn’t one of those things. How do I need to look at this?

Labor issues are a pretty big topic and the problem of internships has been reported on for decades, without much change it seems…wouldn’t this $20K be better spent on sending one of Propublica’s 50 professional investigative reporters to cover this important story, if real impact is to be made?

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:


The number of internships in the United States has ballooned over the past few decades. But oversight and legal protection for unpaid interns hasn't kept up.

The Story So Far

The number of internships in the United States has ballooned over the past few decades. But oversight and legal protection for interns hasn’t kept up. We’re investigating companies that may be violating labor laws by employing unpaid workers, schools’ role in the issue and how it’s affecting American workers.

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