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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.

Apply Now! 

  1. Complete the online application for the department you’re most interested in (see below). Please note deadlines vary between departments – look at the bottom of each application.
  2. Send your cover letter and resume to the correct email address noted in the application form.

Program Overview

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 $5,000 (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.


10 grassroots organizing friendterns will work with our organizing regions for the state (West, Western Piedmont, Central Piedmont, Southeast, East). Through the combination of coalition meetings, volunteer interactions, advocating for local/state policies, and organizing and engaging with constituents online, friendterns gain an appreciation for the foundational role of grassroots organizing in the continued push for democracy.


2 communications interns will work to produce content that highlights the mission of Democracy NC and the work of their fellow Democracy Summer friendterns. They will focus on telling the stories of real North Carolinians at the frontlines of movements through producing our existing podcast “Built By Us”, video production, social media campaigns, press releases, and much more.


4 policy friendterns will work in engaging in qualitative and quantitative policy to further Democracy NC’s pro-democracy agenda. Policy interns will develop essential skills that they can use to work for positive social change, while also furthering their career in policy and research.


The development friendtern will work at the intersection of philanthropy and social change, engaging with Democracy North Carolina donors and sharing the story of the friendtern experience. They will create donor communications content, connect with alumni, plan events and a grassroots fundraising campaign, and support digital outreach.


The operations friendtern will work with our operations department, learning the internal processes of how nonprofits function and human resources are allocated.
This work includes researching voting rights ecosystems, creating employee guides, and shadowing and assisting HR, finance, and volunteer management

"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 (in person, 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.

How To Apply

  1. Complete the online application for the department you’re interested in.
  2. AND, send your cover letter and resume to the email noted in the application you select.
“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