FIRE offers a 10-week, paid summer internship as part of our effort to educate students about their rights at colleges and universities. This free speech internship gives undergraduates the opportunity to assist FIRE in defending civil liberties on campuses across the country.
Barrett Fife on a typical day as a FIRE summer intern
As a FIRE intern, you will do substantive work and participate in weekly seminars with FIRE staff and other experts on freedom of expression, due process, and much more. Interns work at FIRE’s downtown Philadelphia office. The program runs from late May to early August and interns will receive a stipend of $5,250.
In ten short weeks, I found myself interacting with the First Amendment and freedom of expression in an astoundingly complex and multifaceted way.
An educational and rewarding experience
In 2018, University of Pennsylvania student Caitlin Quinn joined FIRE as a summer intern. “By combining the practical with the aspirational, the FIRE Summer Internship program provides its interns with a lively and rewarding opportunity to examine how freedom of speech impacts all aspects of contemporary life,” she said.
FIRE offers a ten-week, paid summer internship as part of our efforts to educate students about their rights at colleges and universities. This internship gives current undergraduates the opportunity to assist FIRE in defending civil liberties on campuses across the country.
FIRE interns do substantive work and participate in weekly seminars with FIRE staff and other experts on freedom of expression, due process, and much more.
Interns will work at FIRE’s downtown Philadelphia office. The 2023 program will run from May 30–August 4 and interns will receive a stipend of $5,250.
The internship application process opens on November 1 and will close on Friday, March 3, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. (ET).
FIRE is looking for intelligent and energetic undergraduates (rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors) attending colleges and universities in the United States who are looking to engage in free speech activism on campus. Ideal candidates are responsible, focused, and organized; have a passion for civil liberties; and have a history of taking action in support of causes they believe in. All interns are expected to demonstrate excellent research, writing, and communication skills. The ability to work under pressure and a sense of humor are also important.
Work closely with our outreach, defense, policy reform, legislation, development, and media teams to assist with research and administrative projects.
Learn the foundational arguments for protecting core rights in our free society through reading and discussion in weekly seminars with FIRE’s staff and other experts on civil liberties.
Develop activism plans for ensuring open discourse on campus.
Applicants should submit a cover letter and résumé, and written responses to questions on the application form. Written responses are evaluated not only on answers given, but also on clarity, style, and quality. We encourage applicants to thoughtfully prepare their responses to the written response questions.
The Summer 2023 internship application will close on Friday, March 3, 2023 at 11:59 pm (ET). All prospective interns will be informed of their application status within four weeks of the deadline. The internship process will consist of two rounds. The early decision round will close on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023 at 11:59 pm (ET). The regular decision round will close on Friday, March 3, 2023 at 11:59 pm (ET). Applicants are considered and accepted on a rolling basis. Each year, FIRE receives hundreds of applications for the summer internship. Given the competitive nature, we strongly recommend applicants submit their materials during the early decision period.
1) What does an average day in the life of a FIRE intern look like?
Interns typically start the day by catching up on and discussing recent newsworthy events. Throughout the day, interns collaborate with various FIRE staffers in helping to support FIRE’s multifaceted response to breaking news, and our ongoing defense of free speech on campus. Interns work both individually and in teams, and are involved in a plethora of functions. This includes everything from development and conference planning to education and outreach. Interns also take part in a number of educational sessions with FIRE’s staff and visiting free speech experts.
2) Is the FIRE internship open to high school students, graduate students, law students, or international students?
No. At this time, the internship is only open to undergraduate students (rising sophomores, juniors and seniors) studying at institutions in the United States. For more information about other opportunities at FIRE, please visit our jobs page. For information on FIRE’s Legal Internship for rising second- and third-year law students, please visit our Legal Internship Program page.
3) Will FIRE provide housing?
No, housing and transportation are the responsibility of individual interns. The FIRE office is centrally located and Philadelphia offers an array of affordable housing and transportation options. Interns have often used sublet Facebook groups to find housing for the summer.
4) Can I complete the internship remotely or as a hybrid?
Unfortunately, there is not an option to complete the program remotely at this time.
“FIRE’s Internship Program gave me the opportunity not only to learn more about the First Amendment and its role on college and university campuses but it also allowed me to grow professionally, preparing me for future work experiences. I had the chance as a FIRE intern to work with FIRE’s amazing staff and gain skills and knowledge which will be useful for me beyond this summer’s experience. The interns actively contributed to FIRE’s mission through collaborative research and other projects, participating in and helping to prepare for FIRE’s Student Network Summer Conference, and we were even given the chance to write two blogs which FIRE published on its website! I would definitely recommend this internship to any student who is passionate about First Amendment rights on campuses and is looking for a summer experience which will encourage and challenge them to grow as an individual and as a productive member of a professional staff. Thank you, FIRE, for a summer I will never forget.” - Elizabeth Stanley, 2019 Intern, Kenyon College
“My ten weeks at FIRE were everything I could have hoped for and more. While of course I'm happy that I got to learn more about the First Amendment and help FIRE achieve its mission of helping students, this internship gave me professional development and prepared me for my future life in ways I was not expecting. Not only did they pair every intern with a mentor, but they brought in professional and interesting speakers for the interns specifically on a wide variety of topics. Additionally, they gave us writing experience through their Newsdesk, taught us how to create legal memos, and exposed us to a wide variety of work that fit our individual interests. I’m so incredibly glad I got the chance to participate in this one of a kind experience, and will remember my time at FIRE fondly.” - Jonathan Greenstein, 2019 Intern, Florida State University
“The FIRE Summer Internship program is an exceptionally unique opportunity. In ten short weeks I found myself interacting with the First Amendment and freedom of expression in an astoundingly complex and multifaceted way. By allowing interns to engage with all aspects of FIRE's work, from nonprofit development to intense constitutional discussions with legal scholars, my knowledge of freedom of speech, and the value I hold for freedom of expression has increased considerably. By combining the practical with the aspirational, the FIRE Summer Internship program provides its interns with a lively and rewarding opportunity to examine how freedom of speech impacts all aspects of contemporary life.” — Caitlin Quinn, 2018 Intern, University of Pennsylvania
“I could not envision a more illuminating, emboldening and meaningful experience than FIRE’s summer internship. My time with FIRE has opened my eyes to the world of First Amendment advocacy in a way that has been fully enriching and invigorating. FIRE is unparalleled in its dedication to the growth of its interns; I have gained not only a more nuanced perspective on free speech issues, but also a better grasp of my personal and professional goals. I learned crucial strategies for engendering change on campus, ones that will leave me better equipped to have an impact in my remaining time at college.” — Katherine Hung, 2017 Intern, Harvard University