Internship Application and Guidelines

With typically more than 400 applications per year for about 70 internships, CDF's internship application process is highly selective. It is important to meet the application deadline and satisfy each of the application components.

Application Deadlines

CDF accepts applications on a continuous basis. However preferred deadline for each term are as follows:

Term Typical Months Preferred Deadlines
(Early Decision & Regular)
Summer June - August February 15
Fall September - December August 7
Winter/Spring January - April November 15

Application Components

Each applicant must submit the following, either by mail, email, or fax:

  • CDF Internship Application (PDF, 176 KB)
  • Cover Letter
    The cover letter should address:
    • why you want to intern at CDF
    • prior skills, knowledge (including course work) and work experience
    • experience (including research) relevant to an internship at CDF
    • experience in, or passion for, children's issues and advocacy
    • your immediate post-internship plans as well as your longer term career or academic goals
    • what you hope to gain from your CDF internship experience
  • Resume
    In addition to education and work experience, please identify awards, honors, and accomplishments, as well as your skills and interests.
  • References
    Two letters of recommendation: one from a professor and one from an academic or professional contact.
  • Writing Sample (no longer than 2,500 words)
    Sample should demonstrate writing and reasoning skills.  It may be a paper completed for a class assignment.

Send your completed packet to:

Internship Coordinator
Children's Defense Fund
25 E Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: 202-662-3662
Fax: 202-662-3570


Internship Selection Process

CDF requires six to eight weeks from the application deadline to process applications. During that time, the Internship Coordinator will process and evaluate applications and then consult with specific divisions for their decisions. The Internship Coordinator and staff members from divisions will conduct phone interviews for those applicants under serious consideration for a CDF internship. Phone interviews will occur some time within the selection process.

Highest consideration is given to those applicants who have demonstrated a strong interest in children and family issues through service, advocacy, or academic studies, and are also supportive of CDF's social policy agenda. The level of knowledge and skill an applicant brings to CDF is particularly important within the context of a specific internship position. Since your internship will be a serious investment of your time and energy, it is important to consider what you hope to gain. This will guide us in finding the best fit. Placement options are also determined by the length and hours of service you are available.