Policy and Outreach Internship – Santa Fe, NM

The Drug Policy Alliance, the country's leading independent drug policy reform organization, seeks an intern in our Santa Fe, NM office to support DPA’s work during the state legislative session and at other times in the year. Applicants should either be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree, or have received their degree within one year of the start date of the applicable internship. Interns will work closely with staff to research and analyze drug policy issues. Interns and their supervisor will work together to create a regular work schedule with a minimum of 16 hours per week and up to 24 hours per week.  We will be happy to work with students to obtain credit towards coursework.

The DPA office in Santa Fe, New Mexico is looking for students who are interested in contributing to creating real alternatives to the war on drugs as part of a small office team. Projects will focus on supporting staff in completing work plan objectives. The NM office seeks interns who are passionate about New Mexico and drug policy issues. Applicants should also have a and understanding of the foundation of the drug war as a system of social and racial control., and be grounded in the understanding in the complex and complicated web of laws and policies that must be changed in order to end drug prohibition and repair the damage the drug war has done to our communities.

Based in DPA’s office in Santa Fe, NM, the Intern will be part of DPA’s Policy team and report to the Policy Manager in the NM office.

Deadlines / Available Positions

Summer 2017 Internship: May 22 - August 11, 2017 (12 weeks)

  • A minimum of 16 hours per week
  • April 17, 2017 is the deadline to apply

Winter 2018 Legislative Policy Internship: January 9 – February 28, 2017 (8 weeks)

  • A minimum of 16 hours per week
  • December 31, 2017 is the deadline to apply

As a national organization, DPA advocates for reducing the harms cause by drug use and the prohibition of drugs. This includes, but is not limited to, access to treatment for substance misuse, substitution therapy, harm reduction services like access to sterile syringes and overdose prevention programs, reducing use of drug testing, eligibility for public benefits for individuals who use drugs problematically, and for community re-entry opportunities for people who have drug convictions. Dug Policy Alliance also advocates for lawful use of marijuana, for medical and adult social use, combating the criminalization of pregnant substance abusers, reforming sentencing laws, and addressing racial disparities in drug law enforcement.

The Summer Policy and Outreach Internship

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Issue based research
  • Drafting op-eds and letters to the editor Strategizing ways to mobilize and engage DPA’s members and supporters
  • Generating social media content for the Grow NM campaign
  • Providing general administrative support for the office
  • Updating media database of NM journalists interested in drug policy reform
  • Creating targeted press lists based on specific media campaigns
  • Drafting and editing DPA materials for distribution
  • Assisting with event coordination

Ideal candidates will have a strong ability to function as a team player, have strong research and analysis skills, and an interest in using social media for community organizing, membership engagement and issue based campaigns.

The Legislative Policy Internship

The DPA office in Santa Fe, New Mexico is looking for students who are interested in contributing to creating real alternatives to the war on drugs as part of a small office team. Projects will focus on supporting office priorities during the 2018 Legislative Session. Interns will work closely with DPA staff to develop and maintain a bill tracking database. This work includes reviewing proposed legislation related to DPA’s primary issue areas: criminal justice reform, marijuana law reform, and harm reduction. Interns will be responsible for reviewing newly introduced bills, preparing summaries and analyzing proposals with a critical lens, and keeping the database updated as bills move through the legislature.

Qualifications: Interns must possess strong research, writing, and communication skills. Applicants should be able to demonstrate effective problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to multi-task without constant supervision. Individuals with the desire and ability to work in a self-starter organization are especially encouraged to apply. Interns should demonstrate interest in drug policy reform. Some prior experience in policy research and administrative affairs is preferred but not necessary.

Law, public policy, social work and ethnic studies students are encouraged to apply. The ideal intern will be highly organized, have a good sense of humor, be able to work with minimum supervision, and be able to commit to at least 10 hours a week.  This internship requires some travel (potentially a couple overnight trips) and some flexibility to attend events out of town on nights or weekends. In return, the intern will have the chance to work with a highly skilled and fun team of committed people in a unique and professional work environment.

To apply: Please send a cover letter that describes your interest and specifies the program and dates you are interested in along with a resume, contact information for at least two professional references and brief (2-4 page) writing sample (applicable to drug policy reform when possible) to:

Jessica Gelay, Policy Manager
by email: nm@drugpolicy.org

The Drug Policy Alliance is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women, people of color, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply. We are particularly interested in hiring those who have been adversely affected by the war on drugs.

Note: Only those candidates under consideration will be contacted.

What former interns have said:

Kuranda Kasatka, Summer 2017: Interning at the DPA Santa Fe office offered many unique experiences and opportunities. I was a member of both DPA’s harm reduction coalition as well as their cannabis coalition. I got on-the-ground experience, meeting and making connections with many key New Mexican policy influencers and businesses that are the backbone of drug policy. My supervisor Jessica Gelay made sure I had a comfortable atmosphere and the experience definitely broadened my horizons to all that drug law entails. It’s not just harm reduction, sentencing laws, or recovery, it primarily has to do with taking a compassionate stance regarding people and the informed choices they knowingly make. This was the perfect introduction to pursue my career aspirations of being a cannabis attorney.

Eleanor Knauss, Summer 2017: Working with Drug Policy Alliance as a policy intern was the highlight of my summer. During my internship at DPA’s New Mexico office I was given the wonderful opportunity to do meaningful and progressive work in an important field. My internship allowed me to gain experience participating in community organizing and local politics, analyzing data, writing opinion pieces, and familiarizing myself with the inner-workings of grassroots advocacy. Coming from out of state, I got to learn a lot about both national and New Mexican drug policy by doing hands on work with amazing and knowledgeable people.

Allison Pierce, Fall 2016: Interning with the Drug Policy Alliance office in New Mexico has been an exceptional experience. From the beginning I was given the rewarding opportunity to travel all over the state and assist with town hall meetings. I was able to have many face to face interactions with the community on behalf of the DPA, speak with businesses and individuals and make lasting and meaningful connections. The people that I have met and had the pleasure of working with through the DPA are all wonderful individuals and I feel lucky to have been able to be a part of such a capable, progressive and positive team while working towards a meaningful goal that I strongly believe in.

Miranda Gottlieb, Summer 2015: While an intern in Santa Fe, I laid the ground work for my future career. During my internship, I assisted DPA staff on research for a racial disparities policing report, New Mexico pharmacy naloxone distribution, and marijuana reform community engagement. The skills and knowledge base I developed has prepared me to be a more effective advocate, scholar, and leader. I always felt appreciated and knew that my contributions were valuable to the staff while receiving the feedback and direction that is so critical for students entering the field. The career coaching and education I gained on policy, the legislative process, and community organizing during my internship was the best mentoring I received in college. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work in Santa Fe with the amazing staff and become part of the DPA intern-alumni where I continue to expand my network and knowledge base in drug policy to make positive change in the world.


This is an unpaid internship.

What do interns do?

The internship consists of an unpaid position designed for individuals who are either enrolled in undergraduate or graduate-level study, or who completed their studies within one year of the internship program start date. DPA interns conduct substantive work that is critically linked to both the day-to-day and long-term objectives of the office.

Project examples:

  • Conducting research on a variety of topics and issues
  • Writing memos, briefs, summaries and letters on the basis of in-office research
  • Conducting research for policy development purposes
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Lobbying activities (limited to phone banking and dropping packets to the Legislature)
  • Some administrative tasks (e.g. running errands, photocopying, assembling packets, answering the general phone line during peak times)
  • Other general, unspecified support for DPA staff

We strive to ensure that your time with us is meaningful – therefore, we keep administrative and monotonous assignments to a minimum. However, there may be busy times when we may ask you to do several in a week. Also, lobbying activities are reserved for those individuals who are not restricted from conducting such activities as part of a school or educational program that explicitly requests no lobbying for IRS/non-profit status purposes.

We expect interns to complete at least 16 hours per week. We are flexible as to when these hours may be served, but interns must be able to work a minimum of four-hour intervals at a time. Interns are encouraged to work more than 16 hours per week if they are willing and able, and many interns opt to do so. In addition, some DPA interns serve as part of a school-related program that is full-time in nature. Interns and their supervisor will work together to create a regular work schedule with a minimum of 16 hours per week. It is necessary that your supervisor knows what your schedule will be each week for strategic planning purposes.

What can I expect as an intern?

  • Meaningful and substantive work – Most assignments will involve brain power and some creative thinking – research, writing and analysis are common tasks for DPA interns.
  • Support and supervision – Your supervisor will provide ongoing support and provide for informal check-ins. Although formal evaluations are not conducted until the conclusion of the internship, an intern may request formal feedback at any time. If appropriate, DPA may supply you with a reference if required for future employment
  • Room to learn and grow – This internship program is just as much an opportunity for DPA to serve an intern’s academic and career interests as it is an opportunity for an intern to serve DPA. Please do not hesitate to ask questions, utilize the resources available to DPA staff, reach out to other staff in DPA offices across the country, attend drug policy related events around the city, attend congressional hearings and events etc. If an intern is working on a dissertation or other academic pursuit, they should ask their supervisor who they should speak with on a particular drug-related subject.
  • Inclusion in DPA events – We make a sincere effort to notify and invite all interns to any formal (and informal) events that DPA staff is planning on attending.