AAPD Summer Internship Program

About the AAPD Summer Internship Program

AAPD is a national cross-disability civil rights organization that works to increase the political and economic power of people with disabilities. In 2002, AAPD launched the Summer Internship Program to develop the next generation of leaders with disabilities. We place college students, graduate students, law students, and recent graduates with all types of disabilities in paid summer internships with Congressional offices, federal agencies, nonprofit and for-profit organizations within the Washington, DC area. During the summer, each intern is matched with a mentor who  provides them with career guidance. AAPD provides interns with a living stipend, transportation to and from Washington, DC, and fully accessible housing. We recruit a diverse cohort of interns. As a result, we connect our host employers to talented emerging leaders with disabilities.

At the beginning of summer, interns participate in a 1-week orientation session to acclimate to AAPD and Washington, DC, meet their peers, and learn about the disability rights movement. Throughout the summer, interns are also required to participate in the Disability Advocacy Certificate Program. The Certificate Program is a 3-credit optional course where interns learn about key issues in the disability community and develop skills  to advocate on the local, state, and national level. Lastly, interns receive opportunities to attend events and network on Capitol Hill, conferences, community events, briefings, and more.

Important Notes: 

  1. Due to the pandemic, AAPD postponed our 2020 in-person internship to Summer of 2021. We invited all selected interns for next summer. This means we have limited and competitive spots to offer for new interns. 
  2. If AAPD decides the pandemic continues to be a concern for the summer of 2021, AAPD will host the Summer Internship Program virtually. We will continue with orientation, internships, mentoring, professional development opportunities, conferences, and the Disability Advocacy Certificate Program online. All participants will still receive the full living stipend.

Application for the 2021 AAPD Summer Internship Program is now closed. Please come back in Fall of 2021 for the 2022 Summer Internship Program.

Application Process


Minimal Qualifications:

  • Identify as a person with a disability
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Identify with at least one of the following:
    • Currently enrolled in as a rising sophomore/junior/senior undergraduate student, law student, or graduate student, or
    • Currently enrolled in a skills-focused program aged over 18, or
    • A recent graduate*
  • You are not required to be a U.S. citizen, but must be:
    • Currently enrolled or recently graduated from a U.S. college, university, or program and
    • Have the required work authorization documents

You will not be required to disclose your specific disability; however, your application for this program will signify that you consider yourself a person with a disability. 

*Recent graduate for the AAPD Summer Internship is defined as anyone who has graduated from an educational setting (e.g. community college, university, etc) or skills-focused program (e.g. transition programs, apprenticeship, etc) within the last five years. 

AAPD is committed to cultivating a diverse class of interns every summer. We select interns who demonstrate their passion and vision of contributing to an inclusive workforce. In order to create gainful employment opportunities for people with disabilities, we recognize the importance of selecting a class of interns that reflect the diversity of our community. We strongly encourage those with historically underrepresented backgrounds to apply.  

Application Material

Candidates must submit the following materials through the online application portal by Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at 5:00pm ET:

  1. Applicant information
  2. Internship placement preference*
  3. Essays
  4. Resume
  5. Two (2) references

AAPD’s Internship placements fall into the following categories:

  • Congressional offices: Current Representative or Senator’s office in U.S. Congress
  • Federal agency: Government organizations that direct policy, programs, and resources at the national level. Examples include but are not limited to: US Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Community Living, US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy, Department of Energy Office of the Insider Threat Program.
  • Nonprofit: Organizations that typically use its funds for the community to further a social cause or advocating for a shared point of view rather than using the funds internally.
  • For-profit: We place interns with private sector companies that have an interest in disability inclusion. Examples include but are not limited to: Centene Corporation and American Airlines.
  • Federal IT internship: Placed in federal agencies with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

You can view the application in a Word document format.

It is recommended that you complete the essay questions in a separate word processing program and then copy and paste them into the online form to prevent loss of information while applying. We will not consider any materials in excess of the stated requirements. We have a plain Word document so you can preview the entire application. Incomplete or late submissions will not be considered. If you have issues accessing the online portal, you must email all of your materials to AAPD at internships@aapd.com before 5:00pm ET on Wednesday, October 28, 2020.

Applicants chosen for the AAPD Summer Internship Program release all information contained in their application for use on the AAPD website and in public press releases, including releases to the program funders, potential employers, and internship placement staff.

If you have any questions or would like to request reasonable accommodations, please contact AAPD at internships@aapd.com.


Completed applications must be submitted to AAPD by Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 5:00pm ET. Applications will be collected and reviewed by our Internship Review Team.

All applicants will be notified if they are chosen for an interview by the end of December 2020. Final decisions regarding interviews and selection will be notified by January 2021.

Program Requirements and Policies

  • Interns selected to participate in the AAPD Summer Internship program will be placed in paid internships with Congressional offices, federal agencies, nonprofits, or for-profit organizations to work full-time four days a week (~24-32 hours per week).
  • Interns must communicate reliably and utilize the various technology platforms (e.g. Google suite, Zoom, Facebook, email) once accepting their AAPD internship, leading up to, and throughout the summer.
  • While AAPD has the final discretion of all placement sites, the internship placement process is collaborative where each intern may be asked to submit additional application materials and interview with a possible placement.
  • An orientation will be held either virtually or in-person in Washington, DC at the beginning of the program. All interns are required to attend.
  • All interns must adhere to the Code of Conduct and if in-person, roommate and housing agreements.
  • Interns will receive a summer schedule of AAPD-sponsored activities and must attend all mandatory events, including the Disability Advocacy Certificate Program.
  • Interns will receive a living stipend disbursed in three (3) installments over the summer.
  • If in-person, interns will live in a dorm-style housing and will most likely share a room with another intern from the program (selected interns will have an opportunity to request specific housing accommodations).

Disability Advocacy Certificate Program

AAPD, in partnership with American University, offers a 3-credit optional Disability Advocacy Certificate Program. The Certificate Program is currently only available to participating interns. Interns will be expected to participate in the classes every Friday for approximately 4-5 hours. Through conversations with issue experts, participants will have the opportunity to apply their learning to advocate effectively to influence policy change.

Please view the 2020 AAPD Disability Advocacy Certificate Program webpage for additional information, Portrait of Empowerment series, and for any questions you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I choose my placement site?
A: AAPD will strive to place all interns with a placement site that matches their career goals and preferences, but AAPD has the final decision on all placement sites.

Q:  What if I want to be placed in a specific Congressional office or only in Congressional offices of a  specific political party?
A: Since AAPD is a nonpartisan organization with many relationships with Congressional offices, we cannot guarantee a specific Congress person and/or specific party. AAPD will place interns in both Republican and Democratic offices.

Q: How much is the stipend?
A: In 2019, AAPD provided a stipend of $2,800 over three installments. In 2020 due to the pandemic, AAPD offered the selected interns to participate in the only Disability Advocacy Certificate Program and did not facilitate virtual internships. As a result, we offered a partial stipend. In 2021, for the in-person program the stipend will at least be $2,800.

Q: What happens if the pandemic concerns continue next summer?
A: If we choose not to do an in-person internship, AAPD will host the Summer Internship Program virtually. We will continue with orientation, internships, mentoring, professional development opportunities, conferences, and the Disability Advocacy Certificate Program online. All participants will still receive the full living stipend.

Q: I have questions about the Disability Advocacy Certificate Program.
A: Please visit our Certificate Program page to learn about 2020 events.

If you still have questions, please email internships@aapd.com.

Annual Reports

Past Placement Sites

AAPD has previously placed interns in a variety of organizations, which includes but not limited to:

  • Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services
  • American Airlines
  • American Bar Association
  • American Council of the Blind
  • Association of University Centers on Disabilities
  • Centene Corporation
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Families USA
  • Federal Communications Commission
  • House Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • Information Technology Industry Council
  • Institute for Educational Leadership
  • JBS International
  • National Archives and Records Administration
  • National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities
  • National Disability Rights Network
  • National Education Association
  • Office of Disability Employment Policy
  • Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA)
  • Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
  • Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
  • Representative F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
  • Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI)
  • Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
  • Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)
  • Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
  • Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
  • Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY)
  • Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
  • Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)
  • The Arc
  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • United Spinal Association
  • US Access Board
  • US Agency for International Development
  • US Department of Labor
  • US Office of Personnel Management
  • Walmart

Support for the 2020 Summer Internship Program is provided by:

  • Aid Association for the Blind of District of Columbia
  • Arconic Foundation
  • AT&T
  • Microsoft
  • Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • The Coca-Cola Foundation

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