Public Design Fellows

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

The Public Policy Lab is accepting submissions for our 2020-2021 Public Design Fellowship program until 5 p.m. on July 20th. We will offer one or more fellowships in communications/UX design.


Fellows 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.


Fellows will participate in PPL collaborations with multiple government agencies (see confirmed 2010-21 partners list, above left). During the fellowship 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 fellowship period.


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

Skills Building & Mentorship
Fellows 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 fellowship, participants can expect to grow their skills in team collaboration, time management, emotional intelligence, adaptability, public speaking, and facilitation.

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

Salary & Benefits
Fellows will receive health benefits and pay at an annual salary rate of $60,000, subject to entering into a temporary employment agreement with PPL. Upon completion of the fellowship, there may be opportunities for fellows to transition into staff positions.


Fellows 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, fellows must be present in New York City for the ten-month fellowship 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 fellows would be expected to join us in-person at that time.

Required Design Qualifications
• Background and interest in human-centered design, with a willingness to participate in design research.
• Adobe Creative Suite and digital prototyping software, such as Figma or Invision.
• Experience prototyping digital and physical products using design stimuli, cultural probes, storyboards, wireframes, or other tools to drive participatory prototyping.
• Strong writing skills, including especially an ability to translate research insights and complex concepts into compelling written stories and content.

Additional Desired Qualifications
We don’t expect candidates to have all the following skills, but multiple of them will be appreciated:
• Ability to work with a broad range of partners in a variety of communities; particularly with a strong ability to engage respectfully with individuals from historically under-represented communities.
• Experience in managing project timelines, teams, and work process.
• Skills in illustration, video production, narrative storytelling methods, and/or web design.
• Comfort expressing and visually documenting the process behind the work.
• Fluency in Spanish particularly appreciated, and fluency in other major New York City languages is also helpful.


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 fellowship 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.