Summer Internships

Applications for intern positions (for summer 2022/23) are now closed.

We will not have a hiring round for interns (for summer 2023/24) in February 2023, as previously advised. Please check the Motu Research website later in the year for job openings.

Early each year, Motu seeks applications for several interns to work within one or more of our major research programmes, which include population and labour economics, urban and regional economics, wellbeing, productivity and innovation, and environment and agriculture.

What we offer

A summer internship at Motu will give you valuable hands-on experience in policy-relevant economic research, guided by internationally recognised senior economists from the top ranked economics organisation in NZ.


Motu’s summer internship programme is designed to apply and extend students’ skills and assist with their development as researchers. The underlying aim of our intern programme is to build research capability, improving the skills of young researchers and the quality of New Zealand research. Motu interns work on research projects led by one of the Senior Fellows and are encouraged to think critically about the public policy and research issues involved.


Internships build students’ skills, as well as providing our researchers with useful research assistance. Ultimately we hope our interns will be better equipped to consider a career in research or public policy analysis.


We offer a relaxed yet stimulating work environment where you will be challenged and your skills as a researcher extended.

Summer internships are paid full-time positions that usually run for 8-12 weeks between November and February. Interns work a paid 40 hour week at our Wellington office.

Who we are looking for 

We are looking for smart students who are interested in research and intend to pursue postgraduate study. The key characteristics we seek are:

  • intelligence,
  • motivation, and
  • interest in the issues we study.

While we mostly do economic research, we are not only seeking economics students. Students should have a strong background in economics, mathematics, statistics, geography or a similar field. Please note internships are not suitable for candidates who have completed a PhD in economics. 

Human Rights Measurement Initiative internship

In summer 2022/23, the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) is also offering a HRMI internship. This internship has a separate application process. For more on the HRMI summer internship, please contact us. The Human Rights Measurement Initiative also annually employ remote HRMI interns

International applicants 

We welcome applications from individuals who have completed some or all of their tertiary study outside New Zealand. However, if this is you please don’t assume we’ve heard of your university or understand how the grading system in your country works. The more relevant information you can provide us with, the better we’ll be able to assess your application. 

Some examples of relevant information. 

  • The economics department at [your university] is ranked second in [country] by [source, with link].
  • My GPA of 5.5 on a 6-point scale puts me on the 95th percentile of economics graduates at [university]. [link that verifies information]
  • HD is the highest grade awarded in undergraduate courses at [your university]. This grade is awarded to approximately the top 5% of students in each course. [link that verifies information].
  • My GPA of [GPA] on an [x-point] scale is equivalent to a New Zealand GPA of 8.5. [link to online GPA converter].

Frequently asked questions

Here are the answers to some questions you might have about applying for an internship or research analyst (RA) position at Motu. Isabelle Sin has also prepared a document giving some tips for your application.


Should I apply for an RA position or an internship? 

RA positions are permanent full-time positions for graduates who will have at least an honours degree when they begin work. Internships are for students who have completed undergraduate studies (or are close to it), and plan to return to study at the end of summer for further study at the honours level or higher. If you’re not returning to postgraduate study then you are not eligible for an internship, and should apply for an RA position. If you already have an Honours or Master’s degree and are returning to study at a higher level next year then apply for an internship.


I’m in my second year of undergrad at university. Can I apply for an internship? 

Yes, but you’re unlikely to be seriously considered unless you will have completed 300 level microeconomics and econometrics by the time of the internship. If you are aiming specifically for a human rights internship, this may not be an issue as long as you have considerable other relevant experience.


I will have a PhD by the end of the year. Am I eligible to apply for an RA position? 

RA positions are suited to early career economists who are not yet ready to conduct independent research. If you have a PhD, please apply for a Fellow/Senior Fellow position instead.


Can I work as an RA at Motu while I do my PhD? 

No. RAs assist Senior Fellows on specific projects for which the Senior Fellows have obtained funding and do not perform independent research.


What are the options for career progression from an RA position? 

We hope RAs will stay with Motu for two to four years, during which time they will learn a lot about how to conduct economic and policy research. By the end of four years, RAs tend to have reached the limits of the position and we encourage them to move on to either PhDs or more senior positions at other organisations. Experience at Motu is excellent preparation for further study or many government positions. There are no direct career progression options within Motu--Fellows and Senior Fellows are required to hold PhDs.


I’m a foreign student and I don’t currently have permission to work in New Zealand. Do I need to secure a work visa before I apply? 

No. If we decide to make you an offer we will help you to secure a visa. However, recent border closures due to Covid-19 have limited our ability to consider candidates located overseas. Please check whether you will be able to enter New Zealand before applying.


Do I need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 for an internship or RA position?

Interns and RAs are required to work onsite at Motu’s Wellington office because this arrangement maximises the intern/RA’s learning experience. To protect our staff and visitors, Motu premises are accessible only to those with valid vaccine passes. We therefore require interns and RAs to hold vaccine passes.


How many applications do you get for these positions each year? 

We usually have more applicants we would love to hire than we do vacancies, so if we don’t make you an offer it doesn’t mean your application wasn’t good.