Every time someone asks me how the Next Leaders internship at IPS has impacted me, I get a bit emotional.

I was part of the 2015 cohort. I had graduated Wesleyan University a year earlier, and I wasn’t sure what path I might take. All I knew was that I wanted to use the skills I had to advance the common good in some shape or form, and working at a nonprofit seemed like an intuitive place to start.

When I heard about the Next Leaders internship, I couldn’t believe my luck: here was a serious, rigorous internship program in the heart of DC, working for a leading progressive organization whose research had helped to support social justice movements since the Freedom Summer of 1963… and the internship was paid.

As someone from a low-income background who’d gone to college on a full scholarship, the only way I could make it to a place like DC to intern at a nonprofit would be to take a paid internship and earn enough to cover my costs.

It’s hard to overstate the impact the Next Leaders program has had on me. I gained some of the kindest mentors I’d ever encountered, and the internship itself helped crystallize my ambition to start a career in communications, working for nonprofits to fight the good fight. After several years working in communications at other organizations, I’ve finally come full circle, back to IPS.

The internship program itself offers a remarkable opportunity to engage in research, writing, and/or fundraising and development, alongside some of the finest public scholars you will ever meet – and it also gives you an amazing set of mentors who will support you for many, many years to come.

I’m just one of several people at IPS who got our start as interns or Fellows and ended up back at the organization. Others have gone on to amazing careers working everywhere from nonprofit organizations to climate start-ups to the halls of Congress to the White House, and beyond. 

Every time the application window rolls around, I share a bit of my story on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, alumni programs, with anyone I can think of, encouraging young folks to apply, especially folks who want to work for progressive causes but aren’t sure what exactly they want to do, or how to make a career of it.

Interns have the opportunity to learn essential skills like how to produce groundbreaking research that shifts narratives about what’s possible, how to craft an op-ed, how to counter colonialist and imperialist perspectives on issues from immigration to the U.S. justice system, how to navigate nonprofit work as a young professional, and so much more.

IPS has paid its Next Leaders a decent wage from the start, at a time when it wasn’t yet the standard or norm. I’m one of the people who wouldn’t have been able to come to DC for an internship otherwise. I’m deeply grateful that I was able to join this amazing group of researchers, advocates, and public scholars, whom I couldn’t be prouder to call my colleagues.

Please consider applying or help spread the word! And note the deadline: April 19.

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