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Letter

Use of unpaid interns takes a bit of the glow off of political startup

James Arena-DeRosa, who is running for lieutenant governor, worked with Caitlin Barrett of Blue Lab, which brings the tech incubator model to the campaign process.

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

James Arena-DeRosa, who is running for lieutenant governor, worked with Caitlin Barrett of Blue Lab, which brings the tech incubator model to the campaign process.

I was excited to see Ben Schreckinger’s article “The tech startup process becomes a model for the political trail” on the front page Monday. I spent the fall 2013 semester at the Blue Lab as one of the “dozen interns — college students — who often help by researching issues.” Since beginning my undergraduate degree at Northeastern University, I have participated in several internship and co-op programs throughout the Boston area.

It is important to point out that the startup style of this company meant that my fellow interns and I worked for free. Certainly, as Schreckinger described, the Blue Lab offers a cost-saving means for candidates to run effective campaigns. The shared resources available are indeed an exciting new option for politicians. However, these resources are not confined merely to conference rooms and communications strategies.

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The interns at Liberty Square Group go through a considerable interview and training process to be part of the Blue Lab. Then we are added to the pool of resources made available to candidates.

I am fortunate to have had the financial means to work 15 hours a week without compensation, but I recognize that many other qualified students lack that opportunity.

The world of the unpaid internship is tricky, and I have been encouraged by the Globe’s coverage of the injustice inherent in offering experience in place of payment. I would be the first to champion the Blue Lab as a foray into low-cost consulting and a great place to work and learn, but those cost-saving measures are not completely without fault, and I would have hoped to have seen some discussion of that by the Globe this time around.

Leah Campbell

Boston

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