Summer Fellowship Opportunity at the Right Question Institute

Position Type: Summer Fellow – The Right Question Institute

The Right Question Institute (RQI), a nonprofit organization in Cambridge, MA, is inviting you to apply to be a Summer Fellow. It is a great opportunity for students eager to review research from the field, conduct literature reviews, and provide support for programmatic efforts to teach self-advocacy skills in low-income communities, increase voter participation, and strengthen democracy.

Organization Overview:

The Right Question Institute (RQI) strives to make democracy work better by ensuring that all people can learn two foundational self-advocacy skills: 1) to ask better questions and 2) to participate more effectively in key decisions that affect them. As part of its work over the past 20 years, RQI developed the Right Question Strategy (RQS). The RQS has been used across many different fields including voter engagement, social work, health care, and adult education.

In 2018, the Right Question Institute (RQI) will be working to make it easier for frontline service workers in social services agencies to teach self-advocacy skills to their clients. We believe social service workers are a uniquely positioned resource to build the capacity of clients to become more effective advocates for themselves and more effective participants in key decisions on all levels of decision-making in the public arena.

RQI’s work has been written about in The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Atlantic, NPR, Education Week, and we have collaborated with many partners, including Teachers College, Teaching Channel, Library of Congress, and state departments of education and regional organizations in many states around the country.

Internship Overview:

Summer Fellows play an important role in our effort to support innovations in social services practice and voter engagement. Through conducting strategic and selective literature reviews and researching emerging ideas in democracy and in social services, the Summer Fellows will work closely with RQI Co-Directors, Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana, to help shape new ideas and arguments. Information and ideas gathered will support the development of materials such as PowerPoints, blogs, articles, white papers, and grant proposals. In addition, interns will take on various programmatic and administrative responsibilities related to our seminars and conferences, communications, social media outreach, and general support. General office support may include supporting staff members in the development of presentations, assisting with the formatting and design of resources, documentation, and other support as needed. Interns will learn more about educational design work and how to communicate information effectively to different audiences.

All RQI interns learn how the strategy helps individuals develop their ability to ask and use questions and will have opportunities to work closely with senior staff at a successful nonprofit.

Essential Skills & Experience:

  • Organizational skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Self-motivation
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • A positive attitude
  • Familiarity with Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms
  • Office and program support skills (organization, documentation, general support)
  • Computer expertise (PowerPoint, Excel, Word, and comfortable with new applications)


The RQI Summer Fellow positions are unpaid. In the past RQI Summer Fellows have sought and received funding through their colleges. Please mention in your cover letter whether you may be able to secure funding for this fellowship opportunity. If we can be helpful as you apply to your college for funding, please let us know. RQI has limited funding to support competitive applicants.

Depending on the organization’s need and capacity, Interns work a minimum of 15 and up to 40 hours per week.

Instructions: Please submit the following to

1) Your resume or CV

2) A brief cover letter that references your interest in the position and an example of how your prior experiences will be helpful for this position.

Please note that you may be asked for a writing sample and references later in the interview process, but these are not required for your initial submission.

Deadline: Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. Please be aware that the application process is competitive and it is advisable that you submit your application materials as soon as possible.

No phone calls please. Candidates that make it to the next round will be contacted to schedule a phone interview.

Reflections from past RQI Interns:

“While interning at RQI as a part of the S-997 Field Experience course, I realized how much I enjoyed working for a mission-driven organization! I learned about how the RQI strategy fits with developmental and educational psychology theory, intervention work, and curricular design. I also learned about organizational strategy and the thinking behind RQI’s ongoing work. Interning at RQI has helped me to better understand the type of work I hope to pursue in the future.”

– Codie, Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) ‘16

“During my internship I was able to contribute to many different parts of the organization’s work. While I primarily supported the work in education and school-family partnership, I also helped with social media, blogs, editing, preparation for meetings, amongst other work. It was one of my most rewarding experiences while attending HGSE!”

– Mikah, HGSE ‘16

“Working at RQI for the summer provided me with the opportunity to make meaningful relationships, gain invaluable experience from a small group of talented and experienced individuals, and explore my own passions and strengths through projects tailored towards my interests. The work atmosphere is engaging and productive while maintaining an open, safe space for honest conversation and learning. As a rising senior, this work truly helped me determine where I envisioned myself after graduation and allowed me to strengthen and diversify my network and experiences.”

– Kelly, Boston College Student


The Right Question Institute is an equal opportunity employer. We are strongly committed to hiring a diverse and multicultural staff and encourage applications from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds.

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