Prison and Justice Writing Internship

PEN America’s Prison and Justice Writing Program seeks two diligent, detail-oriented, and enthusiastic interns. Working closely with the Prison Writing team, the intern will provide key support for two initiatives:

1. A 30+-year program that supports writers in prison through the dissemination of writing handbooks, epistle literary mentorship, and a yearly nationwide contest for incarcerated writers.

2. A writing fellowship that provides generous support for writing projects that center topics related to mass incarceration.

This is a unique opportunity for individuals interested in the intersection of literature and activism, specifically pertaining to criminal justice reform. Interns will gain exposure to the wide range of PEN America’s work and receive hands-on experience in program research, development and design, marketing, event management and logistics. Additionally, interns are invited to attend and assist at many PEN America events. We are looking for someone for three to six months.

This internship is based in New York, but due to COVID-19 concerns, it will be primarily a remote position at this time and is subject to change. The supervisor reserves the right to request interns to come into the office if it is necessary and deemed safe to do so.


Interns will assist with a variety of work, including but not limited to:

  • Administrative tasks that support the Prison Writing Program’s day-to-day function 
  • Contribute to PEN America’s online presence through social media outreach and promotion
  • Support the creation and printing of event marketing materials such as web text and flyers
  • Support logistical preparation and on-site event management for public programs 
  • Contribute research for blogs, articles, and op-eds written in response to mass incarceration
  • Opportunities for contributions as defined by intern interest

Desired Attributes:

  • Must be available two days per week during regular business hours
  • Has a working knowledge of issues connected to mass incarceration
  • Works at a steady pace, is comfortable taking initiative, and thrives working independently
  • Demonstrates flexibility, autonomy, and carefulness in managing work priorities
  • Is comfortable producing engaging written content for diverse audiences
  • Has excellent communication and research skills, and is proficient in Microsoft Office Suite and G Suite
  • Is interested in, and comfortable with, proofreading and editing creative writing
  • Must be willing to do a wide range of administrative tasks, from research to data entry
  • Has an interest in literature, cultural programming, and human rights

Application Periods:

Be sure to include the dates of your availability with your application.

  • Fall Internship: Please submit your application between July 1 and September 15.
  • Winter/Spring Internship: Please submit your application between November 1 and January 15.
  • Summer Internship: Please submit your application between April 1 and June 15.

To Apply:

Please submit a cover letter directly addressing specific requirements for the internship as outlined above, a resume, an unedited writing sample, and the contact information for three references. Please submit the entire application to Caits Meissner, Prison and Justice Writing Director, [email protected]. One PDF is preferred. Please use “Prison and Justice Writing Intern” with your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Prison and Justice Writing Intern – Jane Doe”). Only complete applications will be reviewed, and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

PEN America does not discriminate in its selection practices, and in order to build the strongest possible team, actively seeks a diverse applicant pool.

No phone calls, please.

About PEN America:

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.