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Panetta Congressional Internship


Each year, the Panetta Institute for Public Policy (LINK OPENS IN FIREFOX BROWSER ONLY) invites CSU presidents to nominate an outstanding undergraduate (junior or senior) student leader from each campus to participate in the fall semester Congressional Internship in Washington D.C. The fall semester program runs from August through November. The program is fully funded to allow participation by any qualified student. Students majoring in any subject are eligible to apply.

The Career Center is the CSUSM campus lead for the Panetta Congressional Internship program. If you have questions, please contact the Career Center. Please do not contact the Panetta Institute for Public Policy directly.

Program Overview

  • Summary

    The Panetta Institute for Public Policy begins its annual Congressional Internship Program between Aug. and December, with students nominated by presidents of the twenty-three campuses of California State University along with three private universities. 

    This semester-long program begins with a rigorous two-week academic orientation at the Panetta Institute in August. The focus of the training and orientation is to prepare students for their internship work in Washington, D.C. by giving them an in-depth background to understand the most important policy challenges facing our nation. The Panetta Institute invites experts at the top levels within their fields to expand students' understanding of politics and policy.

    Following the orientation, in late August, students will travel to Washington, D.C. for their eleven-week internships with the members of the U.S. House of Representatives, both Republican and Democrat, from the California delegation where they will serve through early November. While in Washington, D.C. students are mentored and closely supervised by Panetta Institute faculty in California as well as Panetta Institute staff in Washington, D.C. Another unique feature of the Congressional Internship Program includes weekly seminars on policy issues that the interns attend while working on Capitol Hill with nationally renowned leaders who currently practice in their specialized field. Interns will also be required to submit weekly reports summarizing their internship work as well as summaries of the lessons presented through the speaker seminars.

    Upon return to California in early November, interns begin to work on the academic requirements of the program; a twenty-page policy paper with evidence of research and analysis and a twenty-page reflective journal, a polished compendium of the student's intern experience. The academic program ends in early December, with the submission of both assignments directly to the Panetta Institute for grading by the Institute's professors. The internship ends in mid-December, with the submission of final grades.

    Upon completion of all requirements for this course, interns will earn a letter grade commensurate with their performance for twenty (20) full-time academic units that will be posted to their university transcripts. All program costs are covered, including housing, ground transportation, travel to and from Washington, D.C., and some reimbursement for living expenses.

    Course Components

    • Participate in a two-week training session at the Panetta Institute, located at the CSU Monterey Bay Campus on the Monterey Peninsula;
    • Work full-time for eleven weeks in the assigned Washington, D.C. congressional office for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the California delegation;
    • Attend special seminars held exclusively for Panetta Institute interns while in Washington, D.C., and submit reports on all classes and seminars;
    • Timely submit weekly reports and other assignments
    • Attend weekly meetings with Panetta Institute staff while in Washington, D.C.
    • Submit an experiential twenty-page journal and twenty-page research paper consistent with the syllabus provided by the Institute; and
    • Earn letter grades commensurate with their performance for twenty (20) full-time academic credits upon successful completion of the internship
  • Benefits
    • Two-week training course at the Panetta Institute in Monterey prior to departing to Washington, D.C.
    • All program costs are covered, including housing, ground transportation, travel to and from Washington, D.C., and some reimbursement for living expenses.
    • Hands-on 11-week internship with a Congressional office in Washington D.C.
    • Interns may earn up to 20-semester credits through CSU Monterey Bay for a semester
    • Attendance during special seminars with government leaders, journalists, and policy experts
    • Professional development and expand networking opportunities
    • Professional experience for graduate school and/or future career
  • Minimum Requirements & Eligibility
    • Any academic major may apply; the program is open to qualified students regardless of income
    • U.S. citizen and State of California resident
    • Matriculated students in upper-division undergraduate status (juniors or seniors during the time of the internship). Note: students who have accumulated more than 120 semester units before the Fall 2024 term, the start of the Panetta program, are ineligible.
    • Superior academic achievement (overall 3.3+ GPA)
    • High academic standing at all colleges/universities attended (includes lower division)
    • Demonstrated commitment to community and public service and leadership
    • Excellent English oral and written skills to interact with constituents appropriately
    • Willing to live in assigned group housing during the entire 11-week program
    • Never been disciplined under the CA Code of Regulations, Title 5, Article 2, Sec. 41301
    • Must have proof of health insurance that is compliant with the Affordable Care Act and that covers students while residing and working in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and Northern California
    • Must provide copies of the full vaccination (including booster vaccines) for COVID-19
    • Must provide a copy of a government-issued photo identification card
    • Willing to undergo a background check and successfully pass to meet Panetta Institute's eligibility requirements
    • Refer to "Position Qualifications" for more information and expectations
  • Position Qualifications


    • Outstanding student leader who is not a former Panetta Institute Congressional Internship Program participant
    • Demonstrated commitment to community and public service


    • Advanced written and verbal communication skills (especially clear speech)
    • General computer proficiency, word processing, and spreadsheet knowledge
    • Ability to follow instructions carefully
    • Flexibility to adjust with poise to changing deadlines and priorities
    • Ability to provide information to the public and others as directed by supervisors
    • Strong organizational skills
    • Ability to multi-task and prioritize assignments
    • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
    • Ability to be a good team member with an attitude of doing what it takes to get the job done and doing so with a pleasant, cooperative, and professional demeanor

    Other qualities

    • Exemplary conduct at the home campus university and in the community;
    • Positive attitude with a willingness to work (hard) on any project assigned by the congressional office
    • Willingness to accept work involving the practical application of what is learned in the classroom
    • Exercises maturity and sound judgment;
    • Willing to abide by the Panetta Institute's Code of Conduct and Confidentiality Agreement
    • A full-time commitment to the Panetta Institute's Congressional Internship Program; no extra-curricular or outside courses allowed including, but not limited to, scheduling of LSAT, GRE, MCAT, GMAT, etc.
    • Willingness to accept roommate assignments and share living quarters with other students while residing at CSU Monterey Bay and in Washington, D.C.
    • U.S. citizen and State of California resident
    • Must have proof of health insurance that is compliant with the Affordable Care Act and covers students while residing and working in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and while in Northern California
    • Must have proof of the requisite COVID-19 vaccinations. 
  • Positions Function & Tasks

    Provide support to the congressional office staff that includes, but is not limited to:

    • Answer phones: take messages; transfer calls; conference calls
    • Enter data
    • Draft correspondence or other materials
    • Meet and greet constituents
    • Provide tours of Capitol Building
    • Compile newspaper clippings
    • Attend hearings and briefings, take notes and provide summaries/reports
    • Conduct issue/legislative research
    • Perform other work that involves the practical application of what is learned in the classroom
  • Expectations if Selected

    Panetta Institute

    • Refer to the above: Program Summary & Position Function and Tasks

    CSUSM Career Center

    • In collaboration with CSUSM Career Center staff conduct several info. sessions for recruitment and information dissemination for the next Panetta intern
    • Participate in the Panetta selection committee to select the next Panetta intern
    • Provide CSUSM Career Center with a  copy of the submitted Panetta policy paper
    • Continued communication with CSUSM Career Center staff while in DC to ensure lines of support
    • Provide highlights, experiences to be able to highlight in annual impact report and social media platforms 

Application Information

  • Important Dates

    Below is the anticipated timeline for the Fall 2024 application round. Please note that the following dates may be subject to change:

    • Application deadline: March 23rd, 2024, by 11:59 pm PST
    • Invitation - First round candidate interviews with CSUSM Selection Committee: Wed., March 27th, 2024
    • Invitation - Final candidates interview with President Neufeldt: Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024 or Thursday April 4th 2024
    • CSUSM announces Panetta nomination: April 2024
    • Panetta Institute begins interviews with campus intern nominees: May 2024
    • Panetta Institute announces intern appointments: June 2024
    • Fall 2024 Panetta Interns arrive at Panetta Institute:  mid-August 2024
    • Classes begin at Panetta Institute:  mid-August 2024
    • Interns depart for Washington, D.C.:  late August 2024
    • Intern's first day of internship in assigned Congressional offices: late August 2024
    • Intern's last day of internship in assigned Congressional offices: early November 2024
    • Interns return to California: early November 2024
    • Interns begin work on the policy paper and reflective journal assignments: early November 2024
    • The policy paper and reflective journal assignments are due to Panetta Institute: early December 2024
    • Grades for twenty internship units submitted to CSUMB: late December 2024
  • Application Process

    Qualified applicants will be selected based on their application materials and the program requirements. Selected applicants will be contacted for a preliminary interview with the campus selection committee. During the interview, the committee will assess the applicant’s clarity of speech, overall demeanor and character, leadership potential or experience, and interest in or commitment to community and public service, among other items. Selected finalists will advance to an interview with President Neufeldt, who will determine the campus nominee. All applicants will be notified of selection or non-selection.

    CSUSM’s nominee will interview with the Panetta Institute interview team, which includes a representative from the CSU Chancellor’s Office.* Before this visit, the campus nominee will begin the process for a background investigation. The Panetta Institute interview team reserves the right to reject the nominee if the student fails to meet the Panetta Institute’s standards set for participation. Students may also be rejected due to the findings of the required background investigation. The Panetta Institutes makes the final determination for all program participants.

  • How to Apply

    To apply, students must submit a packet with the following application materials via our online application:

    1. A written two-page, typewritten essay. Your statement should include a) why you are interested in the Panetta Institute's Congressional Internship Program; b) academic background and preparation (include what activities have you been involved in on campus and in the community since the beginning of your college career (e.g. service-learning, previous internship experiences, relevant coursework);  and c) what do you hope to gain from the experience.
    2. A current resume
    3. Transcripts (unofficial transcripts are acceptable). Include all prior community/junior college and/or another college/university work (in the order they happened).
    4. A copy of a recently graded paper (at least three pages long) with the professor's comments and grade accompanying or written on the paper. 

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