Panetta Congressional Internship

Each year, the Panetta Institute for Public Policy 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.

ICCE is the SF State campus lead for the Panetta Congressional Internship program. If you have questions, please contact ICCE. Please do not contact the Panetta Institute for Public Policy directly.


AY 2024 Panetta Congressional Internship Applications

Applications for Fall 2024 are now closed. 

Please see the Program Overview section below for more information about Panetta's summary, benefits, and eligibility requirements before applying. 

For any questions regarding upcoming lectures or events, please contact the Panetta Institute directly, or visit their website at:

Panetta Info Session Image

Info Session with former Panetta Interns

Join us for informational sessions with past SF State's Panetta Congressional Interns  - to learn about their experience and advice for future nominees!

Please view our main information sessions page for the schedule and information for future information sessions for Fall 2025 opportunity.

Program Overview

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 Insitute; and

  • Earn letter grades commensurate with their performance for twenty (20) full-time academic credits upon successful completion of the internship

  • 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 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

  • 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


  • Outstanding student leader 

  • 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. 

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

Panetta Institute

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


  • In collaboration with ICCE staff conduct three 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 ICCE with a  copy of the submitted Panetta policy paper 

  • Continued communication with ICCE 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

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

  • Online Application opens: December 4th, 2023 by 8:00 am PST

  • Application deadline: March 4th, 2024, by 11:59 pm PST

  • SF State Zoom Info. Sessions: Mid- Feb. 2024 -  info. session schedule

  • Invitation - First round candidate interviews with SF State Selection Committee: Wed., March 13, 2024

  • Invitation - Final candidates interview with President Mahoney: Friday, March 15, 2024

  • SF State 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: in mid-August 2024

  • Interns depart for Washington, D.C.: in 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: in mid-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

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 Mahoney, who will determine the campus nominee. All applicants will be notified of selection or non-selection.

SF States’s nominee will travel to the Panetta Institute in Monterey for an 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.

*At this time, Panetta Institute interviews will be conducted remotely. 


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. 

Student Spotlights

Ximena Nieves-capitol hill-version 2

What inspired you to apply for the Panetta Internship?

Since I was eleven years old, I have been passionate about social justice and the issues plaguing our communities. When I received and email about an informational meeting for the Panetta Institute Congressional Internship, I thought it would be a longshot, regardless, I applied. After doing some research on the Panetta Institute, I became really excited about the program and the opportunity to not only learn from Leon E. Panetta, but to learn through first-hand experience in a congressional office about the way Congress works.

What are your main responsibilities as an intern?

My daily responsibilities working as an intern for the office of Mike Thompson (CA-4) include answering constituent phone calls, batching emails, transferring and logging phone calls, giving constituents Capitol tours and making the daily press clips.

What has been your favorite activity you’ve done so far?

In session days have been my favorite so far. In one day, I was able to attend a briefing sponsored by Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, man the front desk while the staffers in my office met with Representative Mike Thompson and attend a press conference about gun violence prevention. Because of my experience working in the Office of Emergency Services on campus, I have also had the chance to do some communications work, which has included writing Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts.

What are you looking forward to experiencing & learning during your time in Washington D.C.?

I am looking forward to getting to do some more communications work, learning more about the democratic process and get to see the voting process on the floor in person. I am also looking forward to attending more events off the hill to meet other congressional interns and fellows and have the opportunity to network with them.

2021 Panetta Intern sitting

"My name is Nicole Figueroa, and I am representing SFState in this year's Panetta Congressional Internship Program. I am currently a senior with a double major in Sociology and Women and Gender Studies. I applied for this internship because I am especially interested in public policy and how it can be used to create a more equitable society, particularly aiding marginalized groups. I do want to attend law school after I finish my undergrad degree, and this internship has given me the tools I need to be successful. 

In Washington D.C., I have been assigned to Congressman Correa's office. He serves as the representative for California's 46th district. My everyday duties as an intern involve answering constituent phone calls and logging them, attending briefings (both virtual and in-person), writing memos and notes on briefings, running errands around Capitol Hill, and assisting the office staff with any tasks they might need. 

I'd like to thank San Francisco State's ICCE office and their immense help in assisting me in this program. I am honored to be here and to be representing our amazing school. Go Gators!"

2023: Ximena Nieves | Major: Sociology | Assigned office: Rep. Mike Thompson (D)

2022: Hector Soto│Major: Sociology and minor in Race and Resistance Studies

2021: Nicole Figueroa │Double Major: Sociology and Women and Gender Studies │Assigned office: Rep. Lou Correa (D)

2020: Shira Basa│Major: Philosophy│Due to COVID-19 the Washington, D.C. internship was canceled

2019: Samantha Logan│Major: Political Science & Government│Assigned office: Rep. Adam Schiff (D)

2018: Daniel Richardson│Major: Economics & Business│Assigned office: Rep. Doris Matsui (D)

2017: Tigran Agdaian│Major: Environmental Studies│Assigned office: Rep. John Garamendi (D)

2016: Gabriel Escobedo│Major: Political Science│Assigned office: Rep. Tony Cardenas (D)

2015: Kayla Tolentino│Major: Health Education│Assigned office: Rep. Tony Cardenas (D)

2014: Caoimhe McOsker│Major: Social Work│Assigned office: Rep. Juan Vargas (D)

2013: Margaux Curcuru│Major: Philosophy & Law│Assigned office: Rep. Judy Chu (D)

2012: Aerris Hoskins│Major: Political Science│Assigned office: Rep. Pete Stark (D)

2011: Ashley McDougald│Major: Political Science│Assigned office: Rep. Barbara Lee (D)

2010: Erica Maybaum│Major: Master of Social Work│Assigned office: Rep. Jackie Speier (D)

2009: Marc Joseph Wirtz│Major: Business│Assigned office: Rep. Dan Lungren (R)

2008: Jennifer McCrea-Steele│Major: Communication Studies│Assigned office: Rep. Jackie Speier (D)

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