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 2021 program will run from June 1 to August 6 and interns will receive a stipend of $4,000.
The internship application process will close on Friday, March 5, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. (ET).
Qualifications and Responsibilities
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.
- Assist with the planning and execution of the FIRE Student Network Summer Conference. The FIRE interns will also lead an hour-long session for conference attendees.
- Contribute to FIRE’s Newsdesk.
- 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.
The summer 2021 internship application process opens on Nov. 4, 2020 and closes on March 5, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. (ET). The internship process will consist of two rounds. The early decision round will close on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. (ET). The regular decision round will close on Friday, March 5, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. (ET). Each year, FIRE receives hundreds of applications for the summer internship. Given the competitive nature of the process, we strongly recommend applicants submit their materials during the early decision period.
Applicants should submit a cover letter, résumé, and writing sample. The sample should be a piece of original writing (or an excerpt) no longer than five pages. Many applicants submit essays that they have written for class or articles they have published in the school newspaper. While the style and substance of the writing sample is your choice, please consider the type of writing published by FIRE in making your selection. If you do not have an appropriate writing sample, we encourage you to write about your interest in our mission.
Questions and inquiries about FIRE’s Summer Internship program can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1) Will the 2021 summer internship be remote?
While FIRE was able to execute a successful virtual internship in 2020, we hope to conduct the 2021 summer internship in-person. FIRE is closely following state and federal guidelines and will make a final determination within one month of the internship start date. At this time, we encourage prospective interns to plan to work from FIRE’s downtown Philadelphia office
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) 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.
“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