Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University Summer Internship Program, USA

Publish Date: Jan 13, 2016

Deadline: Feb 12, 2016

Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University Summer Internship Program

We are looking forward to engaging a diverse group of students who are interested in studying -- and changing the world through -- the Internet and new technologies; who are driven, funny, and kind; and who would like to join our amazing community in Cambridge this summer for 10 weeks of shared research and exchange.

About the Program

Each summer the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University swings open the doors of our vibrant yellow house to welcome a group of talented and curious students as full-time interns - Berkterns! - who are passionate about the promise of the Internet. Finding connected and complementary research inquiries among their diverse backgrounds, students represent all levels of study, are being trained in disciplines across the board, and come from universities all over the world to tackle issues related to the core of Berkman’s research agenda. Summer interns jump headfirst into the swirl of the Berkman universe, where they are deeply and substantively involved in our research projects and efforts.

Becoming invaluable contributors to the Center’s operation and success, interns conduct collaborative and independent research under the guidance of Berkman staff, fellows, and faculty. Specific roles, tasks, and experiences vary depending on Center needs and interns' skills; a select list of expected opportunities for Summer 2016 is below. Typically, the workload of each intern is primarily based on one project or suite of projects, with encouragement and flexibility to get involved in additional projects across the Center.

In addition to joining research teams, summer interns participate in special lectures with Berkman Center faculty and fellows, engage each other through community experiences like weekly interns discussion hours, and attend Center-wide events and gatherings with members of the wider Berkman community. As well, each year interns establish new channels for fun and learning, such as organizing debates and pub quizzes; establishing reading groups and book clubs; producing podcasts and videos; and hosting potlucks, cook-offs, and BBQs (fortunately for us, people share).

The word "awesome" has been thrown around to describe our internships, but don't take our word for it.  Interns Royze Adolfo and Hilda Barasa documented the summer 2012 internship experience here  Former intern Zachary McCune had this to say: "it has been an enchanting summer working at the Berkman center for internet & society.  Every day, I get to hang out with some of the most brilliant people on the planet. we talk, we write (emails), we blog, we laugh, we play rock band. and when things need to get done, we stay late hyped on free coffee and leftover food. it is a distinct honor to be considered a peer among such excellent people. and I am not just talking about the fellows, staff, and faculty, though they are all outstanding. no, i mean my peers as in my fellow interns, who are almost definitely the ripening next generation of changemakers."

Time Commitment

Summer internships are full-time positions (35 hours/week) for 10 weeks.
The Summer 2016 program will run from Monday, June 6 through Friday, August 12.


Interns are paid $11.50 an hour, with the exception of certain opportunities for law students who receive summer public interest funds (more about these specific cases at the link for law students below).

No other benefits are provided, and interns must make their own housing, insurance, and transportation arrangements.

Commitment to Diversity

The work and well-being of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University are strengthened profoundly by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and much more. We actively seek and welcome applications from people of color, women, the LGBTQIA community, and persons with disabilities, as well as applications from researchers and practitioners from across the spectrum of disciplines and methods.


  • Internships are open to students enrolled across the full spectrum of disciplines.
  • Internships are open to students at different levels of academic study including those in bachelor’s, master’s, law, and Ph.D programs.
  • Summer interns do not need to be U.S. residents or in school in the U.S.; indeed, we encourage international students to apply.
  • Summer interns do not need an existing affiliation with Harvard University.

Select Expected Summer 2016 Opportunities

Academic Innovation
The Library Innovation Lab at the Harvard Law School Library, in conjunction with the Berkman Center, has a number of projects focused on innovation in academic spaces. Examples of these projects include H2O, and Free the Law. H2O is a Web-based platform for creating, customizing, consuming, and sharing free and open course materials. is a citation archiver designed to prevent link rot in academic scholarship by saving copies of online resources cited in scholarly publications -- providing authors and editors with permanent URLs that will allow readers to access archived copies of the cited material. Free the Law is an unprecedented effort to digitize and make publicly accessible the entire body of U.S. state and federal court decisions. Summer interns will assist with the management and growth of these projects, working with the Innovation Lab/Berkman team to conceptualize and realize the future of these technologies.  Individual contributions will depend on the skill set of each intern.  Find more at, and

Cyberlaw Clinic
The Cyberlaw Clinic provides high-quality, pro-bono legal services to individuals, start-ups, non-profit organizations, and government entities. Every summer, clinic interns contribute to a wide range of real-world projects related to the Internet and technology. Interns may help the Clinic team provide guidance on open access, digital copyright, and fair use issues; support advocacy efforts to protect online speech and anonymity; develop legal resources for citizen journalists and new media organizations; advise courts on innovative uses of technology to increase citizens’ access to justice; or draft reference documents and training materials for educators on children's privacy and online safety. Interns in the Cyberlaw Clinic can expect direct hands-on experience working with clients under the supervision of the Clinic's staff attorneys. More information about the Cyberlaw Clinic can be found at

The Cybersecurity Project is engaging in a clean-slate evaluation of the set of responsibilities related to foreign intelligence gathering, which has expanded to include the exploitation of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. In this project, we aim to identify concrete steps to clarify roles and boundaries for the intelligence community, the corporate sector, academics, non-profits, and individuals; to examine how the cybersecurity risks are conceptualized and assessed by governments and companies, particularly companies with global operations; and to rebuild legitimacy and public support for cross-sectoral cybersecurity policies and practices.  More information about the project can be found at

Digital Finance Initiative
The Digital Finance Initiative at the Berkman Center analyzes developments in digital finance and blockchain technology and experiments with the design and implication of new financial tools and services. A primary activity of the Digital Finance Initiative is to archive, curate, and analyze technical, legal, economic and policy documents and scholarship on issues that define and shape the emerging digital economy.  Interns joining the team will be immersed in current research, and will work with leading startups and researchers in the field.  They will will have a chance to build sites and tools to analyze and visualize data and to write and research on related topics of their choosing. Projects include curating resources for the digital finance community, reviewing ideas and publishing whitepapers about them, and modeling emerging financial systems using available datasets with an eye toward promoting platform-level openness.

Digital Media and Communications Squad
The intern with Berkman’s digital media and communications squad will have a chance to help imagine, produce, and promote a number of audio and video resources aimed at telling the world about the amazing Internet research and action coming out of Berkman. This intern will be chiefly responsible for helping to produce the Radio Berkman audio podcast, including idea generation, story development, reporting, interviewing, production, and promotion, so candidates should have a demonstrated interest in reporting and storytelling. The intern also may play a role in producing videos like these On any given day you could be interviewing a Berkman researcher or guest, helping to produce a dynamic video explainer on Internet censorship, or digging up astonished cat GIFs to accompany a blog post about the latest fascinating cybersecurity issue. The intern will also help out with other digital communications efforts such as writing for and posting to the Berkman website and social media channels, and pitching in on communications infrastructure efforts such as web content mapping, organization, and migration. We hope this intern will have ideas about innovative ways to reach new audiences. This intern should have experience with and access to audio editing software (Logic, Soundtrack, Audacity, Soundbooth, or other), experience with and/or willingness to use mics and audio production equipment to interview fascinating people, excellent writing skills, enthusiasm and an open mind for creating and executing fun ideas, flexibility and willingness to contribute to a range of efforts, and interest in digital communications and podcasting. Useful but not mandatory: experience in video, web design, content strategy.

Freedom of Expression
The Berkman Center's suite of freedom of expression-related projects, including Internet Monitor, Herdict, and others, is seeking a small team of interns to conduct research on Internet filtering, monitoring, and control efforts around the globe; engage in related data gathering efforts using online sources; contribute to report writing; blog regularly about issues concerning online freedom of expression, and manage various projects' social media accounts.  In the past, interns have also supported research on blogospheres and other online communities around the world, contributed to literature reviews, and hand-coded online content.  Foreign language skills, particularly in Persian, Arabic, Russian, and Chinese, are useful.  More information about some of Berkman’s work on freedom of expression can be found at the following links:;

Geek Cave Software Development
The Berkman Geek Cave is a great place to dive into technical and software development projects over the summer. Interns joining the Geek Cave will work to extend open-source development projects of various kinds. As a part of the Geek Cave you will have the possibility, and the very realistic need, to interact with other projects. We have four fun, talented, devoted, full-time developers on staff, which interns will work with to help hone their 1337 skillz. Interns will also have opportunities to manage the complex system of hamster wheels that keep the network moving. (Our team also regularly works with ruby, php, bash, javascript, elastic search, solr, PostgreSQL, and a slew of other tools.) Geek Cave interns applying this summer should be familiar with one or more of [ruby, php, javascript]. Experience with ubuntu linux, rails, meteor, wordpress and drupal is a plus. More info about the projects that we work on can be found on our github organization page:

Harmful Speech Online
The Berkman Center has launched a research, policy analysis, and network building effort devoted to the study of hate speech, in close collaboration with the Center for Communication Governance at National Law University in New Delhi, the Digitally Connected network, and in conjunction with Network of Centers (NoC). This effort seeks research assistants who will contribute to the development research methods and protocols to enable and support robust cross-country comparisons; study and document country experiences, including the policies and practices of governments and private companies, as well as civic society initiatives and responses; and build and expand research, advocacy, and support networks. More information can be found at:

Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP)
HOAP fosters open access (OA) to research within Harvard and beyond, undertakes research on OA, and provides OA to timely and accurate information about OA itself. HOAP interns may enlarge the Open Access Directory (OAD), a wiki-based encyclopedia of OA, help with ongoing OA research projects, or contribute to the Open Access Tracking Project (OATP), a social-tagging project organizing knowledge about OA. HOAP interns will have the opportunity to learn more about open-access scholarship. They might also help document and promote TagTeam, a HOAP-directed open-source tagging platform built at Berkman to support OATP. More information about HOAP can be found at

Internet Governance Projects
The Berkman Center’s projects centered around Internet governance are seeking a small team of interns to assist in our research and activities that contribute to shaping the future of the Internet. The Berkman Center has several projects focused on improving our understanding of multistakeholder governance models, educating policymakers about core Internet issues and challenges, and improving responses to cyber security challenges.  Interns for our Internet governance projects will be key contributors to our research team, helping us develop research that is actionable and useful for policymakers and decisionmakers in the public and private sectors.  These positions will have significant research and writing components, and applicants must demonstrate strong skills as writers, editors, and researchers who are comfortable writing for both formal and informal audiences.  More information about some of the Berkman Center’s work on Internet governance is available at and 

Lumen (formerly Chilling Effects) is a website, database and research project that collects and studies request to remove material from online.   Our goals are to conduct and facilitate research on removal requests  and to provide as much transparency to the Internet-using public as possible about the “ecology” of such requests, in terms of who is sending them, why, and to what effect.  A summer intern working for Lumen will primarily be responsible for data entry, curation, and redaction, including coding metadata and working with source partners to facilitate the ingestion and processing of notices outside of Lumen's automated processes. An intern will also have the opportunity to work on a wider range of assignments, including:  writing blog posts; updating news and research resources for on-site publication; managing and contributing to Lumen social media presence, event planning and management; and assisting when necessary with research and writing projects relying on the database corpus, either internally or in collaboration with external researchers.  Some thoughts from past summer interns about their experience can be found here, and more information about Lumen is at

metaLAB is a concept foundry, knowledge-design lab, and production studio proposing new forms for the networked arts, humanities, and sciences. In summer 2016, up to three interns will help us research and design a platform for navigating current and historical curricular programming at Harvard. In addition, interns will have opportunities to contribute to other ongoing metaLAB projects including an online platform to document, annotate, and remix collections, as well as work on interactive digital installations and programming for a small gallery space. These projects will furnish opportunities for learning across such varied domains as human-centered design, alternative publishing, media production and editing, and web development. We are looking for self-directed applicants who excel in graphic / front-end design, archival research, or ethnography. Links to your work is highly appreciated. More about metaLAB is available at

Municipal Fiber Project
Fiber optic networks are essential 21st century infrastructure, and policy support for community networks is strong.The Berkman Center's municipal fiber initiative sees a summer intern to support one more research projects related to municipal fiber infrastructure business models and responsive municipal applications. The intern is likely to engage in data gathering efforts on public housing connectivity, municipal Internet access pricing, and the availability of existing but underutilized publicly-owned fiber. This position may  also provide experience in the writing, editing and production of reports and the organizing of special events for state and local government leaders. More information about the project can be found here:

Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data
The Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data project brings together expertise in computer science, statistics, law, policy, and social science across five research centers across Harvard and MIT. It seeks to develop methods, tools, and policies to further the tremendous research potential of data containing information about individuals while protecting privacy. The legal team, led by Prof. Urs Gasser at the Berkman Center, explores cross-disciplinary approaches to data privacy and devises new privacy frameworks, legal instruments, and policy recommendations that complement privacy-preserving technologies being developed in the project. To support this work, the Berkman team is looking for rising second and third-year law students to conduct research and analysis on topics related to privacy law and policy. Summer interns will write legal memoranda on selected topics in privacy law and policy, draft data sharing agreements, survey the academic literature on privacy, contribute to the development of new tools for privacy and data sharing, and attend lectures and events with privacy experts from a wide range of disciplines. More information about the project can be found on the Privacy Tools project website at

Special Projects - Urs Gasser
A small team of summer interns will work on a variety of projects undertaken by Berkman's Executive Director Urs Gasser (e.g. work on privacy, cyber security, globalization of law, comparative law, interoperability, internet governance). Tasks include (a) research for presentations and events, op-eds, a book, and articles, (b) editorial work, and (c) general support on a range of international initiatives. This position requires high degrees of flexibility, strong communication skills, as well as the ability to find, absorb, critically analyze, and debate large amounts of written and other media materials from a various sources. This position is an ideal opportunity for individuals interested in pursuing graduate or legal studies in the future, as well as those individuals currently enrolled in graduate or law school. Knowledge in German or an Asian language is a plus. More information about Urs’ research can be found at

Special Projects - Jonathan Zittrain
Summer interns will work on a variety of projects undertaken by Professor Jonathan Zittrain, assisting in a variety of research areas (e.g. human computing, linkrot and internet robustness, platforms, and Internet filtering). Summer contributions include research for conferences and presentations; brainstorming article outlines; fact-checking materials; and reviewing original article or paper drafts. This position requires the ability to find, absorb, critically analyze, and debate large amounts of written and other media materials from sources including scholarly articles, news articles and blogs, and interviews with public policymakers. This intern position is ideally suited for students or others who would like to get a deeper understanding of academic research and the broader world of Internet law. As well, this position may be extended into the 2016-2017 academic year; if you would be interested and available to continue working from Cambridge, MA in this capacity beyond the summer, please indicate so in your cover letter.  More information about JZ’s research can be found at and at


We are fortunate to receive a large number of excellent applications each year and go through a dynamic and highly selective process in which we try to find the best match for individual interns and portfolio needs, but limited slots inevitably mean passing on amazing candidates. We are steadfast, however, in our eagerness for you to work in this space and encourage you to explore other related summer opportunities, including these 

To Apply

We know what you're thinking. Yes please. I want that. That sounds magical.  Did I mention that I have incredible dance moves  Here's what you should do.. 

The application deadline for all students for summer 2016 is Friday, February 12, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. ET


Have questions not covered in the FAQ? Email Rebecca Tabasky at

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Host Countries

United States