PEN America’s Free Expression Programs department is seeking several motivated interns or volunteers to support our work defending and promoting free expression and supporting writers at risk in the United States and around the world. This work includes research and advocacy on free expression issues, with a particular focus on free speech on U.S. campuses; press freedoms and other U.S. free expression issues; support for writers at risk globally; and regional advocacy and programming focused on Eurasia, Myanmar, and China. Interns will have the opportunity to conduct research on free expression issues in the United States and other focus countries; draft advocacy materials including press releases, memos, and briefing papers; conduct research for and provide input to thematic reports; and prepare for major advocacy campaigns and events.

In addition to general support for the Free Expression Programs team, interns will work in one or more of the following areas:

U.S. Free Expression

  • Providing support for ongoing U.S. advocacy and monitoring threats to free expression.
  • Providing support on issues relating to press freedom, disinformation, protest rights, and other forms of censorship
  • Providing support for updating of and continued outreach to promote PEN America’s Online Harassment Field Manual
  • Researching and analyzing state and federal policies which implicate free speech, the First Amendment, and free expression
  • Providing support for launch and promotion of new free expression tools and resources, including digital and research support for our ongoing campaigns (i.e., Free Speech 2020)
  • Working closely with staff across the Free Expression Programs team to track and respond to current events related to free expression in the United States
  • Conducting research, developing press and advocacy materials, and drafting social media and web content
  • Event planning support

Support for writers at risk

  • Working closely and collaboratively with the Free Expression at Risk Program director on research, developing advocacy strategies and website/social media content, and casework
  • Conducting research on writers facing severe threats globally
  • Drafting social media content, press statements, and blog posts related to key cases and free expression developments
  • Helping to track individual cases, updating information in PEN America databases and on the website, and developing materials on individual cases for advocacy purposes
  • Assisting with providing concrete help to individual writers at risk, including verifying cases and providing referrals and letters of support

Campus free speech

  • Working closely and collaboratively with the campus free speech project director and program coordinator on research, developing advocacy strategies and website/social media content, and event/activity planning
  • Providing concrete support for development and release of a new report on free speech on U.S. campuses
  • Monitoring and developing responses to current events
  • Contributing to strategy for advancing inclusive approaches to protecting free expression on campuses


  • Working closely and collaboratively with the Eurasia project director on the implementation of various regional projects
  • Researching and monitoring free expression situation in the region
  • Coordinating logistics for delegations’ visits to Eurasia and the United States
  • Updating PEN America’s social media pages with information related to the region, occasionally translating written/multimedia material to English
  • Updating individual case pages of artists at risk on


  • Working closely and collaboratively with the Free Expression at Risk Program director and the deputy director of Free Expression Research and Policy on research, advocacy (including website/social media content), and strategy development
  • Support for regional programming
  • Monitoring and developing responses to free expression-related events in the region

The following skills will be taken into consideration in selection of interns (not all are required):

  • Strong research, writing, and analytical skills
  • Keen logistical eye for details and excellent organizational skills
  • Superb writing skills, including the ability to craft clear, user-friendly language
  • Strong familiarity with social media platforms
  • Knowledge of U.S. or global human rights and free expression issues
  • Interest or experience in law, journalism, or tech industry valuable
  • Fluency in Google Drive document management and suite of applications; social media fluency preferred
  • Video, audio, and/or web production experience is a plus
  • Knowledge of contemporary debates over free speech on college campuses is a plus for campus speech work
  • Regional/country expertise in Eurasia (especially Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Central Asia), Southeast Asia (especially Myanmar), or China valuable for regional work
  • Language skills, especially Russian, Mandarin, and Arabic, are valuable

Desired attributes:

  • High energy and efficiency
  • Strong work ethic
  • Meticulous attention to deadlines
  • Strong interpersonal skills and an aptitude for collaboration, creativity, and initiative
  • Commitment to the principles of free expression

To apply: Please email a cover letter (one-page maximum) and resume to [email protected]. Please specify in your cover letter which category or categories of work you are most interested in (e.g., campus speech, Eurasia, etc.). Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. No phone calls, please.

About PEN America:

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. PEN America is the largest of more than 100 centers of PEN International. For more than 90 years, we have been working together with our colleagues in the international PEN community to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others. Our strength is our membership—a nationwide community of novelists, journalists, editors, poets, essayists, playwrights, publishers, translators, agents, and other professionals, and an even larger network of devoted readers and supporters who join with them to carry out PEN America’s mission.