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Democracy Summer interns get real-world experience in organizing, communications, and advocacy. In 2019, students helped win back the last Saturday of Early Voting! In 2020, interns prepared voters for the 2020 General Election, resulting in the highest voter turnout in history! In 2021, interns beat back anti-voter and racist bills. In 2022, interns helped launch the Democracy NC TikTok channel. And in 2023 interns spoke out and lobbied against bills that directly impact student voters.

We transform outstanding students into frontline advocates for democracy.

Now in its 25th year, Democracy Summer is an innovative internship program that exposes young leaders to new ideas and political movements. We teach our “friendterns” how to organize people around a shared vision for a better democracy in our state, address structural barriers to civic engagement, and build power alongside historically marginalized groups. This program equips young people with lifelong skills that they can use to work for positive social change in their communities.

Every summer, Democracy NC hires a cohort of undergraduate students from NC community colleges, colleges, and universities to work as paid student interns for 9 weeks under the guidance of experienced Democracy NC staff.

  • Students work in one of our departments — Organizing, Communications, Research, Development or Operations — to gain valuable skills and experience while fighting for a democracy that works for all.
  • Student interns work up to 40 hours per week (including some evenings and weekends) from late May to late July and earn a stipend of $6,000 (taxable) for the summer.

The 2024 Democracy Summer application has now closed. Stay tuned in early 2025 for the next cycle.

The Democracy Summer Internship includes five tracks.


Communications friendterns will use new media techniques and storytelling in the world of activism, including: producing our podcast “Built By Us”; generating social media content (primarily Instagram + TikTok); producing short videos; planning media opportunities; and writing editorials and press releases. The communications interns work in-person with our team at the Morrisville office or on the ground at various locations an average of 2 days per week.


The development intern will create content for donor communications; connect with Democracy Summer alumni; plan a grassroots fundraising campaign; and support digital outreach to target audiences. The development intern works in-person with our team at the Morrisville office an average of 2 days per week.


Our friendtern will have the chance to learn about the internal processes of how nonprofits function and human resources are allocated. The friendtern will have the opportunity to: assist in updating on-boarding processes and materials; shadow HR, Finance, and Volunteer management staff; identify opportunities for diversity, equity, and inclusion enhancement during hiring processes; and more. The operations intern works in-person with our team at the Morrisville office an average of 2 days per week.


Democracy Summer introduces Organizing Friendterns to the culture and practices that make grassroots organizing the soul of the movement. Friendterns will: Recruit local volunteers to partake in mobilization efforts; advocate for local and state policies; develop lasting relationships with advocates and coalition members; and create communication and marketing approaches for increasing turnout. The organizing interns will be working in one of our five regions:  Charlotte/The Piedmont, Fayetteville/Southeastern NC, Greenville/Eastern NC, Raleigh/Greater Triangle, Winston-Salem/Greensboro/The Triad.


Policy Friendterns will gain practical experience and skills in policy and research including: Collecting data in response to urgent internal and external/stakeholder requests; conducting policy research for voter education materials; analyzing quantitative and qualitative data; drafting policy reports; and preparing testimony and engage in legislative advocacy. The policy interns work in-person with our team at the Morrisville office an average of 2 days per week.

"I want to thank Democracy NC because I see how much I've grown as a leader and an organizer, & I'm proud of myself for stepping out from behind the scenes to fight for what's right."

- Khalil J. Cobb, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Democracy Summer starts with a mandatory training orientation, then interns work in their respective departments fighting for social change. They interact with civic leaders, veteran activists, elected officials, the news media, and of course each other and Democracy NC staff. Interns gain an insider’s view of the political climate, legislative process, and power structure in North Carolina.

Who Can Apply

Students must be able to participate in the entire summer program to be eligible. Democracy Summer is ideal for students interested in a career in public service, politics, a non-profit field, or community-based work. All rising sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduating seniors enrolled in NC community colleges, colleges, and universities are eligible to apply. Because student interns are responsible for covering their own housing, most participants apply to work in cities where they have family or other living arrangements available. The ideal applicant will have:

  • A passion for racial, social, and economic justice
  • An ability to communicate with diverse groups of people
  • An interest in and a general understanding of local and/or state level politics
  • An ability to work independently and as part of a team


“When I moved to America from Mexico, I wanted to empower the Latinx community, who feel like their voices aren't important. It is my turn to make my new home just, diverse, and of equal opportunity to everyone. Democracy NC gave me the skills to get started.” –Veronica Fonseca, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill