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Democracy Summer interns get real-world experience in organizing, communications, and advocacy. In 2019, students lobbied the NCGA for policies that would strengthen voting rights and 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 & racist bills that would harm North Carolinians. And in 2022, interns led GOTV efforts across the state and helped launch the Democracy NC TikTok channel.

We transform outstanding students into frontline advocates for democracy.

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 (taxable) for the summer.
  • This is a full-time job, so students taking summer classes or have other, part-time work cannot realistically participate in the program.
  • Due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2023 internship will be hybrid, with a mix of remote work and in-person events and meetings.

"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 (May 2023), 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, and 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
  • (Organizing and Development Applicants): Strong public speaking skills
  • (Communications Applicants): Experience with media production, writing, and/or social media.
  • (Research Applicants): Experience working with qualitative and/or quantitative data and strong written & organizational skills.
“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