2018 - 2019

Public Design Fellows

Public Design Fellows

Partners and Funders
City of Philadelphia
NYC Department of Social Services
NYC Department of Small Business Services

The submission period for this fellowship has ended. Thanks to all who applied!

The Public Policy Lab is accepting submissions for our 2018-2019 Public Design Fellowship program until 10 a.m. on August 9th. We will offer one or more fellowships in the areas of design research and communications/UX design.

What WILL fellows DO?

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.

What PROJECTS Are Anticipated?

Fellows will participate in PPL collaborations with multiple government agencies (see confirmed 2018-19 partners list, above left). During the fellowship period, PPL expects to design and test policy and programs that:

  • engage perpetrators of domestic violence living in homeless shelters,
  • support small-business owners in complying with ADA regulations,
  • empower residents to participate in shaping municipal transportation projects, and
  • help shelter staff better assist homeless New Yorkers in finding permanent housing.

Additional project topics may arise over the course of the fellowship period.

What are the benefits of the fellowship?

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.

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 $50,000, 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.

What are the requirements?

Fellows must be present in New York City for the nine-month fellowship term, from October 1, 2018, to June 28, 2019. Fellows are expected to work at PPL five days per week, but we are open to considering part-time fellowships, at a pro-rated salary, for highly qualified applicants. See below for the specific skill sets we are seeking from applicants.

Design Research Qualifications

  • A degree in design or social science (Master’s degree preferred), with proficiency in Microsoft Office expected (InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop, even better).
  • At least 3 years of professional experience, preferably with at least 1 to 2 years at a design agency or research firm.
  • Experience in qualitative research.
  • Background and/or interest in program monitoring and evaluation.

Communications/UX Design Qualifications

  • A degree in Graphic or Communications Design or equivalent design program (Master’s degree preferred), with proficiency in Adobe Creative Suite and/or digital prototyping software, such as Balsamiq or Invision.
  • At least 3 years of experience as a professional designer, preferably with at least 1 to 2 years at an established agency or design firm.
  • Experience prototyping digital and physical products.
  • Background and interest in human-centered design, with a willingness to participate in design research.

Desired Qualifications for All Candidates
We don’t expect any candidate to have all the following skills, but multiple of them will be appreciated:

  • Experience with data analysis and behavioral design.
  • Familiarity with design stimuli, cultural probes, storyboards, wireframes, and other tools to drive participatory prototyping.
  • Skills in illustration, video production, web animation, audio engineering, or other narrative storytelling methods.
  • Comfort with visually expressing and 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 10 a.m. on August  9th.

No calls please. Selected applicants will be contacted for a brief Skype interview, to be held during the week of August 13th. Leading candidates will be asked to submit a lightweight work sample the week of September 3rd. Second-round interviews will be conducted in person at PPL HQ in Brooklyn during the week of September 10th. Awards will be announced the week of September 17th.

what else should you know?

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.