Public Design Associates

The application period for this position has closed. Thanks for your interest!

The Public Policy Lab is accepting submissions for our 2020-2021 Public Design Associate role until 5 p.m. on July 20th.

Associates are recent graduates with little workplace experience or people with work experience from an adjacent field but no college degree. Associates will contribute to PPL project activities and receive mentoring from PPL staff. We may also ask associates to take one college-level course per semester on PPL-relevant skills, such as visual design, qualitative research, or New York City languages.


Associates will contribute to PPL organizational activities, from project development to communications and events, and to all phases of PPL project work, from ethnographic research to evaluation.

Expected project activities include creating research plans, designing stimuli for research activities, synthesizing and generating visual representations of research findings, filming and photographing research activities, developing preliminary service and tool prototypes, collaboratively designing and testing prototypes with stakeholders, refining prototypes for real-world piloting, training project partners, evaluating program outcomes and impact, and documenting all of these activities in print and digital formats.


Associates will participate in PPL collaborations with multiple government agencies (see confirmed 2010-21 partners list, above left). During the program period, PPL expects to design and test policy and programs that:
• help shelter staff better assist homeless New Yorkers in finding permanent housing,
• coordinate services for school children living in temporary housing,
• enable New Yorkers to save and share documents in order to apply for public programs, and
• improve transportation services for school children living in temporary housing and their families.

We expect additional project topics to arise over the course of the apprenticeship period.


Social Impact
By participating in PPL service design projects, associates will have an impact on policy and public services affecting millions of Americans.

Skills Building & Mentorship
Associates will be mentored by senior PPL staff and gain practical experience in PPL’s tested methodologies for making change in complex systems, while working in collaboration with government policy and operations leads, front-line service providers, and members of the public.

Through the associateship, participants can expect to grow their skills in team collaboration, time management, emotional intelligence, adaptability, public speaking and facilitation.

Network Growth
Associates will be exposed to public-interest organizations across the public, private, and social sectors. Associates will also be exposed to PPL’s international network of fellows, a community of leading professionals with expertise in research, design, strategy, and policymaking.

Salary & Benefits
Associates will receive health benefits and pay at an annual salary rate of $50,000. Upon completion of the 10 months, there may be opportunities for associates to transition into staff positions.


Associates are expected to work at PPL five days per week, but we are open to considering four days per week schedules, at a pro-rated salary, for highly qualified applicants. See below for the specific skill sets we are seeking from applicants.

Typically, associates must be present in New York City for the ten-month program term. Given our pandemic-related reality, we are open to applicants who are currently based outside of New York City. However, we do expect to return to the office in some capacity this fall, and associates would be expected to join us in-person at that time.

Required Design Qualifications
• Strong written and verbal communication skills.
• Organizational skills, including the ability to set project goals and workplans.
• Critical thinking and pattern recognition skills (for example, the ability to look at a list and mentally sort the items into various groups).
• Ability to collaborate well with project teams.
• Experience or interest in human-centered design or research methods.

Additional Desired Qualifications
We don’t expect candidates to have all the following skills, but multiple of them will be appreciated:
• Experience in qualitative research or communication design
• Storytelling skills through video or illustration
• Experience in community organizing
• Lived experience of the communities we serve, including low-income, LGBTQIA, immigrant, housing insecure, and formerly incarcerated
• Fluency in a major non-English New York City language, such as Spanish or Mandarin
• Demonstrates an interest in public policy or human centered-design through hobbies and extracurriculars
• Demonstrates non-professional creative pursuits
• Good listener, adaptable, eager to work in a team setting


The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. on July 20th. No calls please.

Selected applicants will be contacted for a brief Zoom interview, to be held during the week of July 27th. Leading candidates will be asked to submit a small project the week of August 17th. Second-round interviews will be conducted during the week of September 7th either by Zoom or in-person at PPL HQ in Brooklyn. Awards will be announced the week of September 14th.


PPL believes that our work—and all policymaking—will be most effective when we reflect the communities that we serve. To that end, we encourage people to apply to this position from historically marginalized groups, including but not limited to people of color; people from low-income, LGBTQIA, and immigrant communities; and formerly incarcerated people.

Work/life balance is important to us. We close our office for several weeks each year and generally restrict work communications to weekday business hours.

We believe that good design starts at home: PPL can only generate meaningful policy and service designs if our team finds meaning and satisfaction and growth in our work. We regularly discuss our values, and we explore ways to be better for each other and in the world.


The Public Policy Lab is an Equal Opportunity Employer; all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, creed, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state or local laws.

We can only consider candidates already authorized to work in the United States. We do not provide relocation expenses. Nothing in this job posting or description should be construed as an offer or guarantee of employment.