Graduate Interns

The Public Policy Lab is accepting submissions for graduate interns until 5 p.m. on April 17.

A PPL team member fills out a form while kneeling next to a collaborator who is seated at a library computer.

The Public Policy Lab is accepting submissions for graduate interns until 5 p.m. on April 17.

Interns are current and recent graduate students who will be in New York City this summer. Interns will contribute to PPL project activities, gain valuable professional experience, and practice skills they are learning in the classroom.


What will interns do?

PPL interns get involved with all sorts of activities during their time with us. Interns may contribute to PPL’s organizational activities, from project development to communications and events, as well as 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. 

Interns actively participate in PPL collaborations with government agencies and community partners. In recent years, interns have:

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

This summer, PPL is looking for interns with experience and skills in the following areas:

  • Research — writing research plans and discussion guides, conducting research engagements (semi-structured interviews, field observations, etc.), managing research operations, and synthesizing data into actionable insights
  • Business management and strategy — conducting research to develop strategic plans and materials that support social enterprises scale, determining relevant funding models, and assessing key business operational considerations.
  • Visual design — creating design stimuli, mapping systems, developing service and tool prototypes, co-designing and testing prototypes with stakeholders, visualizing findings and recommendations, and documenting project activities
  • Communications — writing and editing content across multiple channels, developing and implementing marketing strategies, and managing content schedules

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 disadvantaged Americans. Our methods are human-centered, co-creative, material, iterative, time-based, and holistic.

We have a fast-paced, collaborative work environment, and we strive for excellence. We’re not an advocacy organization, but we are an organization that cares about centering the voices of 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, especially on Tuesdays and Wednesday when our New York City staff come to the office. We do have some lovely team members who are permanently on the West Coast, so Zoom is still very much a 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 also 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 New York. 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 want to design with and for people. Maybe you’re interested in conducting research with real humans in the real world. Or perhaps you’re a wordsmith who is excited to tell the stories of our work. Whatever your superpower, you’re excited to jump into a small, passionate team and put your skills to work. You should also love office snacks.

What are the benefits of the fellowship?

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 leaders, 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. Fellows join 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 $$28.85 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. Spring interns are expected to work in our DUMBO office for up to 32 hours per week, primarily from Monday through Thursday. All of our New York City staff come to our DUMBO office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Required Qualifications

  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Critical thinking and pattern recognition skills
  • Experience in research, business management/strategy, visual design, and/or communications
  • 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.

Application Timeline

The deadline to apply is 5pm on April 17, 2023. 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.