The Opportunity

ACLU California Action protects civil liberties and civil rights, advances equity, justice, and freedom, and dismantles systems rooted in oppression and discrimination at the state level. Our organization uses rigorous policy analysis, advocacy, and strategic communications to achieve policy change on a statewide level on a broad range of issues including criminal justice, education equity, immigrants’ rights, police practices, privacy and technology, racial and economic justice, voting rights, and gender, sexuality, and reproductive justice. ACLU California Action is a 501(c)(4) organization jointly formed by the three ACLU affiliates in California—ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California, and ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties.  

We are seeking applications for our internships in legislative advocacy (lobbying) within our Sacramento-based team. Students with a strong interest in public interest advocacy, social justice, and influencing systems of power will find this a rewarding internship with the opportunity for exploring many types of projects and topics. Cal Action interns work directly with our staff on active and potential legislation that spans the breadth of civil liberties and civil rights areas.

Interns must be enrolled in an academic program at the time of their internship. Internships are paid. For students who would like to receive academic credit for the internship, we will work with you to meet the requirements for your school.

Please note: Cal Action is exclusively focused on advocacy and statewide power building; our office does not engage in any litigation, and Cal Action interns will not have any opportunity for litigation-related work.

Legislative Advocacy Internships

Cal Action legislative advocates and legislative attorneys engage in lobbying the legislature, governor, and state agencies to advance the ACLU’s statewide policy agenda. Legislative advocacy interns may be asked to draft legal memos, analyses, testimony to the legislature and regulatory agencies, legislative language and amendments, and bill position letters, as well as research and brief the staff on a variety of issues and provide non-substantive testimony in legislative committee hearings. Legislative advocacy interns will have the opportunity to participate in strategy meetings with other ACLU offices and coalition partners and to attend lobby visits and meetings with legislative staff.

Qualified applicants have expressed a strong interest in working on public interest legislative advocacy. Interns are expected to be proactive communicators, excellent writers, flexible, self-aware, and eager learners who have strong analytical skills, thrive in a fast-paced environment, and seek out feedback and learning opportunities. Preferred knowledge includes familiarity with basic constitutional principles and civil liberties and civil rights issues.

Summer Legislative advocacy internships are full-time for 10-12 weeks. Internship start and end dates are flexible based on students’ school schedules, but preference is given to students who can start late May or early June. Cal Action generally accepts two legislative advocacy interns per summer, and summer interns can anticipate experiencing lobbying during policy committee hearings and floor sessions, as well as perform some more in-depth projects during the legislature’s summer recess. Applications for summer internships are accepted December 1st through January 15th.

Fall Legislative advocacy internships require a commitment of 16 hours per week for a minimum of 12 weeks. Cal Action accepts up to two Legislative advocacy interns per fall, and internship start and end dates are flexible based on students’ school schedules. Fall interns can expect to experience preparation for the upcoming legislative session, including researching and planning for legislation the office will run the following year. The legislature is on recess during the fall, so interns should not anticipate getting to experience policy committee hearings or floor session. Applications for fall Legislative advocacy internships are accepted June 1st through July 15th.

Spring Legislative advocacy internships require a commitment of 16 hours per week for a minimum of 12 weeks. Cal Action accepts up to two Legislative advocacy interns per spring, and internship start and end dates are flexible based on students’ school schedules. Spring interns will experience some of the preparation for the upcoming legislative year, including analyzing bills as they are introduced, and will experience policy committee hearings. Spring lobbying applications are accepted October 1st through November 15th.

Selection Process

Applications from all interested students are welcome. Internship applicants may be from any higher education program, including undergraduates and programs of study that do not have a direct correlation with political or legal studies.

To apply, please submit your resume of all paid and unpaid work experience. Please also submit concise answers to each of the following questions:

  1. After reviewing our website and social media presence, what recent advocacy that we’ve done inspires you most to want to join our team and why?
  2. Please describe if you have done academic coursework, research, or study or have work experience or lived experience in any of our issue areas? If so, please describe.
  3. Tell us about a time you had to explain a complex idea in a simple way. How did you know your communication was effective?
  4. What does advocating for social change mean to you?

Your answers can be submitted in the body of an email or as a Word or PDF attachment that is no more than 2 pages long. Please submit applications via email to [email protected] and include in the subject line which internship program and term you are applying for. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

If we decide to move your application to the next stage in the intern hiring process, we will contact you to set up a time to complete a written interview. Following our staff’s review of your written interview, we will let you know whether we would like to advance you to the phone interview stage.

ACLU California Action is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual with a disability and need assistance applying online, please contact us at [email protected].  If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request accommodation during the interview process.

ACLU Cal Action advances equity and inclusion in the workplace by providing equal employment opportunity to all as part of a work environment free from discrimination. We encourage and welcome applicants who will work to further this commitment and add to the diversity of our organization on multiple dimensions including race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, exercising the right to family care and medical leave, genetic information, marital status, sex (includes pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and related medical conditions), gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, military and veteran status, political affiliation, or arrest or conviction record.