Summer Internship Program

FIRE's 2018 intern class


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 2020 program will run from May 26–July 31 and interns will receive a stipend of $4,000.

This year, the internship application process will consist of two rounds:

  • The early decision round will close on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 at 11:59 pm (ET)
  • The regular decision round will close on Monday, March 2, 2020 at 11:59 pm (ET).

Apply today!


FIRE is looking for thoughtful and energetic undergraduates (rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors) attending colleges or universities in the United States who are looking to engage in free speech activism on campus. Ideal candidates are responsible, focused, 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.


FIRE interns:

  • Work closely with our campus outreach, defense, policy reform, legislation, development, and media teams to assist with research and administrative projects. Interns complete research projects and help staff members with writing, case work, fundraising, public relations, and administrative duties.
  • Attend and assist with the annual 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.

Application Procedures

The summer 2020 internship application process opens on Nov 8, 2020. There will be two rounds of applications.

  • The early decision round will close on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 at 11:59 pm (ET).
  • The regular decision round will close on Monday, March 2, 2020 at 11:59 pm (ET).

Applicants who apply during the early decision round and are not accepted will automatically have their applications reconsidered in the regular decision round. All prospective interns will be informed of their application status within five weeks of the application deadline.

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 paper. 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

Apply today!


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, 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.

3) Is the FIRE Internship open to law students?

This internship is only open to undergraduate students (rising sophomores, juniors and seniors). 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.


“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

“From the wonderful staff to the intellectually stimulating work, my time at FIRE was both enlightening and engaging. The staff was incredibly thoughtful in educating me on the First Amendment and its history. I gained a first hand understanding of the importance of free expression and civil discourse by debating my fellow interns, several of whom were on the opposing side of the political spectrum. I came to better understand the arguments against freedom of speech, and, more importantly, where said arguments fall short. I went in expecting a compelling internship, but I left with a remarkable educational experience.”

— Henry Spiro, 2018 Intern, Wesleyan University

“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

“It’s hard to overstate just how valuable and unique my time at FIRE has been. I honestly can’t imagine a more interesting or engaged place to work. You learn so much just by observing the work that the amazing people here do every day. I’ll be returning to school in the fall having learned more than I could possibly have imagined I would. It will be truly sad to leave this place behind.”

Alec Ward, 2016 Intern, University of Pennsylvania

“My internship at FIRE was a remarkable opportunity for me to work and converse with intelligent, engaged, and passionate colleagues and fellow interns from across the ideological spectrum. It was an experience that gave me an incredible appreciation for open discourse and free expression, and allowed me to assist staff ensuring First Amendment rights nationwide. I leave this internship with immense respect for the work FIRE does, and the progress they continue to make.”

Elizabeth Gudgel, 2016 Intern, Johns Hopkins University

“The FIRE office possesses a palpable energy and dynamism that is unlike any workplace I have ever experienced. While I’ve learned, throughout my internship, much about civil liberties, First Amendment jurisprudence, and public advocacy, more than anything I am proud to have observed firsthand what it means to be principled.”

— Konrad Thallner, 2014 Intern, Colgate University