National Federation of the Blind 2016 Summer Internship Program

Posted by Anil Lewis | 01/26/2016 | Education, General

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. Since 1940, the members of the National Federation of the Blind have come together in state affiliates and local chapters to share the real life experiences, practical techniques, and innovative strategies we use to transform our dreams into reality. In 2004, we established the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute as the first research and training facility developed and directed by blind people. Fueled by the dreams of the blind of America, the Jernigan Institute is now a leader in creating innovative education programs, accessible technologies, pioneering research projects, and collaborative partnerships that empower the blind to live the lives we want. 

As we continue to raise expectations of and for the blind, we realize that we must actively work to empower the next generation of dynamic leaders and innovative thinkers that will dream, develop, and implement the next ground-breaking project or program that changes the lives of all blind people. To that end, we must share our acquired knowledge and life experience with young motivated blind students as they travel their individual paths toward full participation. We seek to accomplish this goal through our National Federation of the Blind Summer Internship program, a unique learning experience that can only be directed by the National Federation of the Blind.

Our National Federation of the Blind 2016 Summer Internship Program will provide an opportunity for individuals to contribute to the programs of the Federation, while gaining valuable experience at the center of innovation in the blindness field. Our 2016 summer interns will be hosted at the NFB headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. NFB internships will begin on May 30 and end on August 5, 2016 (ten weeks). The internship experience includes a stipend and can include sleeping accommodations at the NFB Jernigan Institute, if necessary. One of the requirements of the internship is participation in program activities at the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind to be held in Orlando, Florida, from June 30-July 5, 2016.  

Our 2016 summer interns will have the opportunity to engage in a variety of program areas including:

  • Access technology
  • Civil rights—especially advocacy around voting rights and educational accessibility
  • Data management
  • Education programs
  • Governmental affairs
  • Information technology
  • Jacobus tenBroek Library
  • Membership building
  • NFB NEWSLINE® for the Blind
  • Outreach and fundraising
  • Public relations and social media

The National Federation of the Blind Summer Internship Program is like no other. It is filled with unique opportunities for personal and professional growth. The following are some comments from our 2015 Summer Interns:

“The NFB Summer internship program provided me with the opportunity to have a variety of new experiences, ranging from connecting with national leaders both inside and outside of Baltimore, to challenging and honing my own leadership capabilities in a number of settings. In being an intern, and thus present at the national office every day amongst leaders and mentors, the program provides an immersion into NFB philosophy for ten weeks, giving me the chance to ask questions, search for answers with my fellow interns, and, in every facet of the internship, aim to parallel it with the philosophy of our organization. The 2015 summer internship program experience for me, at its core, showed me that the work of moving forward with our movement need not stop once the summer is over. Through the activities and discussions I participated in this summer, I learned that the work I did there was just the beginning of all there is to learn about and do for our organization.” –Hindley

“The internship with the NFB Jernigan Institute this summer was the most unique opportunity that I ever received throughout my experience in the United States. It was my first time working in a professional setting, and I had a lot to learn. It was an exciting, challenging, and eventful summer, which made my work experience very original and invaluable. Through a variety of projects that my fellow interns and I worked on, I learned a great deal about advocacy and policy, information technology, and many other areas I’d never thought I would be so interested to explore. I got to work closely with many different people with different personalities, and I was able to discover my own strengths and weaknesses. I learned a lot about working with people in a group, which is a very important skill to possess for an effective leader. Every task that I was assigned was unique and interesting, and it always taught me something new. This summer I’ve developed great and meaningful relationships that hopefully will last for a very long time. I learned something special from every individual who was a part of my internship experience, and I am going to apply this knowledge in my future endeavors.” –Anya

“The NFB Summer Internship was unique because the focus was more on [the] process and the acquisition of soft skills than assignment completion. There was an emphasis on the utilization of access tools, the development of alternative strategies, and the acquisition of soft skills required to successfully complete a variety of assignments. Each intern was in charge of their individual projects, accountable for specific aspects of the group assignments, and additionally responsible for providing support to other Jernigan Institute staff. It proved [to be] very challenging to manage when and how to contact Jernigan Institute staff and other members of the NFB for assistance, while balancing the idea of being proactive within a given structure. I refer to this process as “Administrative Structured Discovery.” I appreciated the challenge.”         –Jeremy  

 “My experience as a NFB summer intern was informative and full of great experiences. Growing up in the Federation from a young child I thought I knew what we as a federation were all about. However, spending three months and working with great staff and being mentored was the greatest hands-on experience I could have had. I learned a lot about my weaknesses [and] my strengths. I learned that the job place is full of many diverse backgrounds, stories and tolerances. I learned that the Federation is comprised of ordinary people like you and me, each one of us has something to bring to the table. I enjoyed the trips that we took to build the Federation and strengthen our movement. Serving as the lead on a membership building trip to the NFB of Delaware was a huge awakening for me as to what goes on in the heart of our organization. Listening to the stories of our members and giving them guidance changed my heart and reestablished my faith in our federation. Overall, my experience as a summer intern was one of the hardest growing experiences I have had yet. It stretched me in many ways. I believe that being stretched lets me grow more and enables me to take on new challenges and new opportunities that may come my way.” –Tina  

If you are interested in applying for an internship with the National Federation of the Blind, prepare the following materials and submit them via email in an accessible electronic format to no later than March 11, 2016:

1. A cover letter expressing why you are uniquely qualified for an NFB internship, listing the program area(s) in which you are most interested in gaining experience, and describing the projects that drive your passion in those program area(s). Be sure to include a description of any previous involvement you have had with the Federation. Please feel free to include any innovative new projects that you might want to help initiate during your internship. Also note any scheduling conflicts that would prevent you from being available from May 30 through August 5.

2. A résumé including current contact information.

3. At least two references with their contact information.

We anticipate selecting members of our 2016 internship cohort by April 15, 2016. Questions regarding NFB internships can be directed to Anil Lewis at 410-659-9314, extension 2374, or  


Anil Lewis, Executive Director 
National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute
200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, Maryland 21230


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