Graduate Intern

The Public Policy Lab is accepting submissions for a Graduate Intern until 5 p.m. on December 5.

The Public Policy Lab is accepting submissions for a Graduate Intern until 5 p.m. on December 5.

PPL is looking for spring interns! We are especially interested in graduate students who are currently in their final year of school and who have availability to work in person with our team at our DUMBO office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

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

What will interns do?

PPL interns participate in all sorts of activities during their time with us. Interns contribute to all phases of PPL project work, from conducting ethnographic research, to co-designing prototypes with stakeholders, to piloting and supporting the implementation of new services and products. 

In recent years, interns have collaborated with government agencies and community partners to:

  • improve processes for homeless New Yorkers seeking permanent housing,
  • enhance the intake, referral, and feedback experiences of families using public mental health services, and
  • make healthcare offerings more inclusive for people affected by the digital divide.

What is PPL like?

PPL is a design organization at heart. We use methods from design, technology, and social science to improve the lives of the American public. Our methods are human-centered and co-creative, and center the experience of people who are not well-represented in positions of power: low-income people, immigrants, people of color, young people, and people with disabilities or limited English proficiency, among others.

We have a fast-paced, collaborative work environment. We strive for excellence. We’re not an advocacy organization, but we are an organization that cares about co-creating public policies and services with members of the public. We primarily do this by conducting service-design projects with government agencies, making design decisions based on the needs of our public-sector partners, front-line staff, and members of the public.

We have three practice areas at PPL: research and strategy, design, and operations. Each staff member calls one of these practice areas home, but they work on multidisciplinary project teams and enjoy doing a bit of all things.

We are a friendly and fun bunch of people, if we do say so ourselves. Conversations flow naturally over lunch now that the New York City team is coming into the office part-time. We do have some lovely staff who are permanently on the West Coast, so Zoom remains part of our daily life.

We believe reflecting on the work is as important as doing the work, so we carve out time to think about why and how we do things here. We understand that everyone is a human with a life, so when things happen, we are quick to support each other and pitch in on what needs to get done. We also love office snacks—yum!

What are you like?

You are currently enrolled in a master’s program. You don’t need to be studying a specific subject, but your interests should relate to PPL’s work in some way. Over the years, PPL interns have studied communication design, service design, urban planning, public health, and more.

Whatever your academic pursuits, you are a person who is motivated to improve public services. You probably also love cities since you are here in NYC. You may or may not have worked in the public sector before, but having some experience with a government body or a professional services firm may be helpful. While you’ll get lots of direction from us during the internship, you should also be good at structuring your time and asking for help.

Mostly, you are curious about designing with and for people. You’re interested in conducting research with real humans in the real world, be that through online workshops or in-person fieldwork. You can come to PPL’s office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays where you’re down to chat with your colleagues over lunch, likely about social policy or the most recent finds on StoopingNYC.

What are the benefits of the internship?

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.

Through the internship, interns can expect to grow their skills in qualitative research methods, human-centered design practices, team collaboration, 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 internships are paid opportunities. We compensate our graduate interns at a rate of $25 per hour. Upon completion of an internship, there may be possibilities to extend the engagement.

What are the requirements?

Interns must be present in New York City. PPL is currently operating on a hybrid model, in which all of our NYC staff are expected to come to our DUMBO office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Spring interns are expected to work in our DUMBO office for at least 16 hours per week between Monday through Thursday. We have a strong preference for candidates who can work on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, to align with when our NYC staff are in the office.

Required 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 Hiring Priorities

PPL believes that our work—and all policymaking—will be most effective when we reflect the communities that we serve. With this in mind, we encourage participants to apply who:

  • have fluency in a major, non-English New York City language (such as Spanish, Mandarin, or ASL) and/or
  • come from lower-income, LGBTQIA, immigrant, temporarily housed, or justice-system-involved backgrounds.

What is the application timeline?

The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. on December 5, 2022. No calls please.

Selected applicants will be contacted for a brief Zoom interview.

What else should you know?

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.

We are learning to make our hiring practices more inclusive and accessible to those coming from various professional or personal backgrounds. If you need further support or have feedback on ways to make this application easier to navigate please send us an email at

Employment Policies

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.

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The Public Policy Lab is a tax-exempt

501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.