MacArthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarcerationglobal climate change, and nuclear risk. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program (so-called “genius grants”), and our competition for a single $100 million grant, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy, as well as the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. More information is at

The intern will join the Foundation’s Communications team, which seeks to enhance the impact of MacArthur’s grantmaking by –

  • Drawing attention to and sharing information about the fields in which MacArthur is engaged;
  • Spotlighting grantees; and
  • Ensuring transparency about Foundation grantmaking and operations.

The team achieves these objectives by employing diverse communications tactics, including media relations, digital content, events, publications, and support for MacArthur staff and grantees.

The intern will balance short- and long-term projects.  Day-to-day work will include –

  • Researching and drafting briefs and stories for the Foundation’s website about the work of our grantees;
  • Identifying and summarizing media coverage;
  • Helping to plan and staff public events;
  • Researching media outlets and building media lists; and
  • Other responsibilities, as directed.

The Director’s Intern will be one of two interns responsible for organizing day-long briefings for interns in the greater Chicago-area. S/he is also assigned one or more long-term projects; past examples include –

  • Researching geographic and field-specific news coverage of MacArthur Fellows;
  • Researching annual reports of other foundations and nonprofits; and
  • Examining how other foundations and nonprofits strategically use social media.

The internship is designed to be a substantive learning experience, so the intern will join Communications team meetings and staff events and attend in-house briefings by grantees, staff, and other practitioners.

The internship is not focused on any one social issue or grantmaking generally. 

Successful candidates will have a demonstrated interest in communications, journalism, public relations, new media, and/or public affairs.  Strong written and oral communication skills, outstanding organizational abilities, and attention to detail are essential. Experience with social media, photography, or video is a plus.

Candidates should explain their interest and proposed schedule (indicating start and end dates) in statement of interest; cover letter format is preferred. Links to additional materials, such as a website or digital portfolio, are also welcome. Finalists will be asked submit two writing samples of no longer than two pages each.

2018 Intern Reflection:

Being exposed to the level of impact MacArthur has on the world, especially Chicago, definitely has me aspiring to seek a career within a government or nonprofit organization that values diversity, equity, and justice. In college, almost everyone knows MacArthur for their fellowship grants as it is quite popular and desirable to many college students. After interning at MacArthur for even a little bit of time (about one month), I am stunned at how much I was not aware of in terms of their work and staff. This organization is full of wonderful people who do tremendous amounts of work and still make the time and effort to help and teach me the significant aspects of being a communications employee. 

I take part in attending meetings in a variety of programs and debriefing them, proofing, working on media projects, and organizing two briefings for Chicago Congressional interns. This workload is manageable and reasonable, and staff is almost always available to answer any questions or help. As someone new to the communications field, outside of journalism, I am looking forward to pursuing communications in other aspects of my life outside of MacArthur. They have definitely given me the skills, which are ever-growing, to go outside of my comfort zone and do great things and I am very thankful to them.

Anum Shafqat '21

2017 Intern Reflection: 

Organize briefings for Chicago Congressional interns; research and write content for the Foundation's website; assist with Foundation events for the press, public, and policymakers; and attend in-house briefings and meetings on a range of issues (often with outside speakers) to learn more about the Foundation and key areas of work.Director's interns should possess strong written and oral communication skills, outstanding organizational abilities, and an interest in the work of the philanthropic sector (and preferably some of the specific issue areas funded by MacArthur).  Experience and interest in new media is a plus.

Working with the Communications team at the MacArthur Foundation has been a great way to spend the summer. As the voice in many respects of the whole Foundation, we work to enhance the profile of the Foundation as well as that of MacArthur's grantees and its Fellows (also known as 'geniuses' in the mainstream media). MacArthur staff are great, the office culture - although intensive when deadlines close in - is very laid back and helpful. As a Communications intern, tasks include website content management, research on the MacArthur Fellows, and event planning.

The workload is reasonable and varies in intensity but balances out overall. This summer, MacArthur's offices were being renovated, so the annual Government and Nonprofit Intern Briefing (two briefings held since 2007 when Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) asked the Foundation to explain their work), had to be conducted off-site. This provided logistical and timing challenges, but support from all the departments helped make it a success. I, along with a co-intern from the University of Chicago, had to update the invite lists, contact various government and nonprofit offices, coordinate speakers and presentation topics, find venue and good catering services - all towards our biggest intern briefing yet, with 90+ attendees to each briefing. Many skills needed for this - and for work here in general - I got from extracurriculars at Harvard and classes, especially those that require many essays. Overall, the resources, events, briefings, and lunches within MacArthur helped keep all the interns up-to-date on the world of philanthropy and fosters a sense of community within the Foundation.

Edgard Gonzalez '19 

Chicago, IL