Public Design Interns

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 Intern role until 5 p.m. on July 20th.

Interns are current undergraduate or graduate students. Interns will contribute to PPL project activities, gain valuable professional experience, and practice skills that they are learning in the classroom.


Interns 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.


Interns 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 internship period.


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

Skills Building & Mentorship
Interns will work with 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. Throughout the internship, participants can expect to grow their skills in team collaboration, time management, emotional intelligence, adaptability, public speaking, and facilitation.

Network Growth
Interns will be exposed to public-interest organizations across the public, private, and social sectors. Interns 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
PPL’s internships are paid: $15/hour for undergraduate students and $25/hour graduate students. Upon completion of a semester internship, there may be possibilities to transition to a summer engagement.


Interns are expected to work up to 20 hours per week. See below for the specific skill sets we are seeking from applicants.

Typically, interns must be present in New York City. 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 interns would be expected to join us in-person at that time.

Required Design Qualifications
• Strong written and verbal communication skills
• Critical thinking and pattern recognition skills
• Experience in qualitative research, data analysis, or communication design
• Experience or interest in human-centered design methods

Additional Desired Qualifications
We don’t expect candidates to have all the following skills, but multiple of them will be appreciated:
• Lived experience of the communities we serve, including low-income, LGBTQIA, immigrant, housing insecure, and formerly incarcerated.
• Experience in managing project timelines, teams, and work process.
• Fluency in a major, non-English New York City language, such as Spanish or Mandarin.
• Experience conducting qualitative research interviews.
• Communication skills, including managing newsletters or social media channels.


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. Further conversations will occur in August with offers expecting to be made in late August.


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 internship 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.