College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences

Apply for the 2017-2018 Panetta Internship!

The Panetta Institute Congressional Internship in Washington, D.C., which hosts students from mid-August through mid-November, is an opportunity for students to see Congress in action and earn up to 20 university credits. Travel to and from Washington, D.C., along with housing expenses and a stipend, will also be covered by the program.

The program begins with an intensive two-week training session, which allows interns to attend lectures led by experts from diverse disciplines and to participate in a broad range of political discussions. Once training is complete, each student intern is assigned to work in the Capitol Hill office for a member of the California Congressional Delegation.

The Congressional Internship Program is a unique opportunity for 26 select students, from the twenty-three CSU campuses, along with the Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California and Santa Clara University, to experience the legislative process in Washington, D.C., while developing career-related skills and expanding their professional networks.

In 2013-2014, the Department of Political Science sent majors Bryce Brady and Kaitlin Ward to the Panetta Program. In 2015-2016, Nafisa Ahmed and Mary Ashley Cherney were selected as Panetta Interns. In 2016-2017, Joshua Ebiner and Naomi Alexander were selected as Panetta Interns: 

"My experience through the Panetta Internship was one of the most beneficial I have had in my life. The time I spent in Washington, D.C. has opened up so many different career paths that I would have never considered, but it has also allowed me to meet so many different people I never would have met otherwise. I interned in the office of Congressman Xavier Becerra, from the 34th district. I would like to believe that my experience differed somewhat from some of my fellow interns since my Congressman was also the Chairman of the Democratic Caucus. This meant that I was working closely with both offices and interacting with other democratic offices that communicated with the Democratic Caucus office. While in the office, I was actually given a lot more responsibility that most interns are given. These responsibilities were assigned not only because I was a hard worker, but because I took the time to get to know the staff I was working with a develop relationships with them. This internship not only gave me valuable work experience, but it changed me as a person. The training that I received from the Panetta Institute prior to going to Washington, D.C. gave me more knowledge about topics I never thought I needed to know about that I ever could have imagined; and there were more situations than I can count where I relied upon that knowledge when speaking to people on Capitol Hill. Working in that environment gave me more confidence in myself because I know that I deserved to be there. If I had not applied for and received this internship I am positive I would not be in the same point in my life that I am now. Everything I received from the experience is worth more than I could even imagine, not only because of the work experience but the non-work and social experiences as well. I absolutely encourage everyone to apply for the Panetta Internship!"- Naomi Alexander, Class of 2017

"My experience through the Panetta Congressional Internship Program has been by far the most challenging and rewarding experience in my undergraduate career. The sheer amount of information that I learned through the program’s lectures and seminars as well as working in a Congressional office surpasses much of what I would have learned through a college course or through following media reports. The Institute exposed students to various policy experts that shared their perspective on a range of contemporary issues and potential solutions. I interned for Congressman Jeff Denham (CA-10) who represents the Central Valley. Being a part of Rep. Denham’s office helped me understand the different challenges that residents in that area are experiencing and how their Representative works to address those challenges. Prior to this internship, I believed that Congress was an inherently partisan and dysfunctional institution; in many ways, it is. Because of this internship, however, I learned that the current situation in Congress is much more complicated than it is often portrayed. There is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on in formulating legislation, and with so many stakeholders involved, the process necessarily becomes slow and complex. I also learned that bipartisan cooperation is an essential component to making sure Congress can function in a way that meets the nation’s needs. In order to make reasonable progress, lawmakers must be willing to find compromise and balance competing interests. Each person in the program will walk away with a different perspective, molded by their own reflections on the information and experiences they are exposed to while in Washington, D.C. Keep an open mind and take advantage of all the opportunities that this program has to offer." -Joshua Ebiner, Class of 2017

"The internship dramatically altered the course of my life. I did not think someone from my background would stand a chance in Washington, D.C. My internship experience demonstrated otherwise. Before the internship, I almost did not apply because I was too terrified of the magnitude of possibilities Panetta had for me. What if I was not good enough? However,  I talked face-to-face with many important political officials such as Congressional Members, former cabinet members and vice presidents, and even the House Parliamentarian; Tom Wickham. Additionally, during an office transition, I stepped up and was able to be the interim scheduler for my Congressman. I worked for Congressman Raul Ruiz (CA-36). Through these experiences, I was able to make a strong network filled with individuals who will help me accomplish my dreams. Most importantly, I learned that I am more than capable to accomplish those dreams; I learned to believe in myself." -Mary Ashley Cherney, Class of 2016

"I interned for Congressman Mike Thompson of the 5th district. Working for the House of Representatives was the best experience I ever had. It was a surreal experience living and working in one of the most powerful cities in the world. Average Americans can only read about or watch the news, however Panetta Interns get to experience the news firsthand in front of their eyes. One of the experiences I will personally never forget is getting watch the election of the Speaker of the House who is third in line for the presidency and one of the most powerful people in the nation. This internship helped me and would help any future intern grow both professionally and personally. The months we spent in DC challenged every basic notion I had about how things worked. What most people take for granted is how much politics affect our daily lives, from the water you drink to the quality of education you receive, politics plays a large role in the definition of everything. The immense amount of detail that goes into the control of our everyday lives happens in DC, and it was a privilege to be a part of the experience. Students looking to apply for the internship should have an open mind about what they would expect to learn in D.C. Politics, America, and the world in ever changing, steadfast beliefs would only inhibit one from getting to make the most out of an experience." -Nafisa Ahmed, Class of 2016

The Panetta Intern Program

To apply for the Panetta Internship, the following is required:

  • Junior or Senior standing from any major
  • 3.0 GPA or higher in college course work
  • A Completed Application
  • A Letter explaining why you want to be part of the program.
  • A resumé.
  • A graded essay — at least 3 pages long, be single authored, has a letter grade and include instructor comments — that exemplifies your analytical skills and writing abilities.
  • The names of two faculty references who will endorse your application — we will contact the faculty members and ask for a letter or e-mailed reference.

Applications are due by: Friday, February 10, 2016 at 5pm.

Submit Completed Application Packages to the C.L.A.S.S. Dean's Office in Buillding 5, room 158.

For further information about the program, please contact Dr. Sara Garver at: .