Now Hiring: Land Use and Development Climate Intern 

Smart Growth America (SGA) and its Land Use and Development team are looking to recruit a determined, curious, and dedicated full-time summer 2023 intern to support its advocacy, research, and technical assistance work, with a focus on supporting communities burdened by climate change impacts. Open to the possibility of a part-time position. 

To apply: Please send a resume and cover letter where you specifically address the three question prompts in the “How to Apply” section to [email protected] with “LUD Climate Intern” in the subject line. Applications will be accepted immediately on a rolling basis until the position is filled. 

About Smart Growth America

Smart Growth America is a national nonprofit organization that envisions a country where no matter where you live, or who you are, you can enjoy living in a place that is healthy, prosperous, and resilient.  We empower communities through technical assistance, advocacy, and thought leadership to realize this vision of livable places, healthy people, and shared prosperity.

About the Land Use and Development Team

The Land Use and Development (LUD) team at Smart Growth America is focused on how land use, development, and real estate can advance SGA’s mission and vision for equitable, sustainable development. LUD’s topic areas include real estate development, planning, zoning, development finance, climate mitigation and adaptation, and brownfields redevelopment. One of LUD’s ongoing projects that the LUD Climate Intern will support is SGA’s Climate and Land Use Technical Assistance offering to support communities in effectively advocating for housing, zoning and planning policies, and infrastructure that are more prepared for the impacts of climate change such as flooding, extreme heat, drought, and wildfires.

The LUD team also houses four programs, including several programs which convene leading smart growth practitioners—LOCUS, the Form-Based Codes Institute (FBCI), and the National Brownfields Coalition (NBC).

  • LOCUS is a coalition of responsible real estate developers and investors who advocate for smart growth policies at the federal level.

  • Economic Development Program uniquely combines SGA’s policy expertise with an in-house team of researchers that leverage quantitative and data analysis to assess the fiscal impact of smart growth and land use policy choices.

  • FBCI is a professional organization dedicated to advancing the understanding and use of form-based codes, which are a key tool for delivering walkable, mixed-use urban form.

  • NBC is a coalition of professionals who work in brownfields redevelopment, who share professional resources and advocate for brownfields policy.

Position Overview

The LUD Climate Intern will be a member of Smart Growth America’s Land Use and Development team, reporting to Jamie Zouras, LUD Program Manager, and is expected to contribute to a collaborative team environment. Specific topics of work that the intern may be involved with may include, but are not limited to:


  • Support LUD Program Manager in development of climate and health deliverables, including completing background research, formatting factsheets and guides, and drafting blogs and social media posts

  • Support climate and land use technical assistance for community-based organizations by researching local policies and best practices, zoning regulations, and climate data

  • Support SGA-wide signature policy and research projects as needed, such as providing background research to support a research report, or attending equity forum events and drafting discussion guides and memos

  • Supporting LUD communications materials, such as creating template presentation decks and project summaries

Knowledge and Skills

Interns seeking to work with SGA should strive to have the following skills:

  • Commitment to SGA’s mission, including diversity, equity, and inclusion

  • Working knowledge of and passion for land use, development, climate adaptation and mitigation, and urban planning topics

  • Strong research and writing skills

  • Ability to display data, research, and policy concepts in a clear and relevant manner

  • Organized and able to fulfill tasks per instructions

  • Strong proficiency in G-Suite and Microsoft Office suite of tools, or similar, for document preparation (memos, presentations, etc.)

SGA also strongly encourages interns with the following skills to apply:

  • Experience with policy analysis and literature reviews, as well as distilling academic analysis into more accessible language

  • Experience with resident-led community organizations

  • Proficient in visual and graphic design programs (i.e. Adobe Suite, Canva, or similar)

Educational Background

Graduate students in Urban Planning, Environmental Science, Public Policy, Sociology, Real Estate Development, or related disciplines are encouraged to apply. Key among intern applicants is an interest in climate change adaptation, environmental justice, community development, and land use.

Compensation, Schedule, and COVID-19 Protocols

The prospective intern will need to supply their own computer and access to wifi. For a full-time position, the intern will be expected to commit 40 hours a week for a minimum of 10 weeks in summer 2023 (with potential for a fall 2023 extension on a part-time basis) for a total of 400 hours for the summer 2023 term. Start date will be determined in partnership with the intern and is expected to be on or around June 5th, 2023. The intern will be paid a semi-monthly stipend throughout their tenure in the program at the hourly rate of $22 for a total stipend not to exceed $8,800 for the summer 2023 full-time term. All interns are expected to be insured by their school’s or personal health and/or liability insurance, as this internship program does not provide health or liability insurance coverage for interns.

SGA is based in Washington, D.C., and is operating on a hybrid work schedule. Staff currently work in the office three days a week (Tuesday-Thursday), while generally working remotely the rest of the week. We expect that work will remain hybrid for the long term. Full-time interns will ideally work in accordance with the hybrid work schedule if they are based in the Washington, D.C. area. If an intern works in the office, they will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and a booster.

How to Apply

Please send a resume and cover letter where you specifically address the below three questions to [email protected] with “LUD Climate Intern” in the subject line. Applications will be accepted immediately on a rolling basis until the position is filled. No phone calls, please.

  • What interests you about working on climate and land use issues at Smart Growth America?

  • What key issue(s) in land use and development will have the biggest impact on Americans, particularly low-income Americans and people of color, and why?

  • How did you hear of this internship opportunity?

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Smart Growth America is proud to be an equal-opportunity employer. SGA and the Land Use and Development team are committed to building a diverse staff and strongly encourage applications from candidates of color. Employment and promotional opportunities are based on individual capabilities and qualifications without regard to race, color, religion, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation/preference, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status, or any other protected characteristic as established under law.