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Office of the Provost

Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore

Panetta Congressional Internship Program

About the Panetta Congressional Institute Program

In August 2021, the Panetta Institute will begin the 23rd annual Congressional Internship Program for students selected from the twenty-three campuses of the California State University along with three private universities. The program runs thirteen weeks, beginning with a two-week training session at the Panetta Institute, followed by eleven weeks in Washington, ending in November. Campuses are invited to choose an outstanding undergraduate (junior or senior) student leader to participate in an extraordinary learning experience held at the Institute and in the nation’s capital.


This program is open to students in any academic major recognized by the university, subject to the criteria stipulated below and any other criteria set forth by the president’s office. It provides an opportunity for students to enhance their educational experience by providing real-world engagement in the exploration of Congress, civil leadership, and community and public service. The cost of the program is fully funded in order to allow participation by any qualified student, independent of family income. Student benefits include academic fees and tuition, food and housing, a living stipend, a text-binder and other academic materials, along with air and ground transportation.

Information Session

Two of Cal Poly's former Panetta Interns, Christine Lam and Imahn Daeenabi, will talk about their experiences in the program during a virtual information session on Friday, January 22. View the session.

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

Cal Poly’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. During that visit, the campus nominee will also meet with the CSU Monterey Bay campus police department to 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.

2021 Call for Applications

Application Timeline

February 3, 2021 - Application packets are due to the Office of the Provost

February 15-19, 2021 - Tentative preliminary interviews*

February 22-26, 2021 - Tentative dates for finalist interviews with President Armstrong*

*Tentative dates will be finalized in mid-January

Application Details

Application packets must be emailed to no later than 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, February 3, 2021.

Do Not include cover sheet, table of contents, recommendations or any other information.

Application Packets must include the following information:

  • Panetta Institute Congressional Internship Application Information form
  • Two-page personal statement of interest
    • May be single or double spaced
    • No margin restrictions
    • Single-sided only
  • Current resume
    • Single-sided only
  • Recently graded paper
    • Minimum three pages in length
    • Must include professor’s comments and grade accompanying or written on the paper
    • May be on any subject
  • Complete higher education transcripts
    • Transcripts from other higher education institutions must be included
    • Unofficial transcripts are acceptable
    • Copy of Cal Poly Planner is acceptable

Questions may be directed to Kymberly Fazzio, or 805-756-2186.

Interested students should review the links below:

Imahn Daeenabi

Imahn Daeenabi - 2020 Panetta Intern

Imahn Daeenabi, a third-year political science major from Menlo Park, California, will serve as Cal Poly’s 2020 representative to the Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program.

After a two-week training period at the Panetta Institute at CSU Monterey Bay, he will work in the capitol office of a California congressional representative in Washington, D.C., for 11 weeks in the fall.

“At a time when there are so many crucial issues that require a public policy solution, I believe this will be a great opportunity to learn from the experienced leaders working in Congress,” Daeenabi said. “I’m thrilled and grateful for this hands-on experience that will equip me with the skills and knowledge needed to become a public servant.”

Daeenabi’s previous experience includes internships with California State Senator Jerry Hill, San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum, and the SLO Legal Assistance Foundation. In addition to his work experience, Daeenabi anticipates that his Cal Poly coursework, including classes on the U.S. Congress and on American politics, will be a major benefit when working at the Capitol.

“My experience working at the county and state level in district offices was incredibly beneficial,” he said. “Working at the federal level will be a new challenge and hopefully provide a holistic view of how all of our levels of government operate.”

Daeenabi plans to graduate from Cal Poly in June 2021 and attend law school. He is the 20th student from Cal Poly to participate in the Panetta Institute program since 2001.

Daeenabi will join 25 other students, all nominated by the presidents of each CSU campus, as well as Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California and Santa Clara University. The program is open to all academic majors and is recognized as one of the leading internship courses in the nation because of the rigorous training it provides.

The Panetta Institute covers program costs, including course registration fees, campus services during orientation, air travel and housing in Washington, D.C. By covering these expenses, the institute can make the program available to interns from all socioeconomic levels. Cal Poly awardees are supported in part through the Ed and Jan Slevin Congressional Internship Endowment.

The Cal Poly Panetta Congressional Intern is supported in part through
the Ed and Jan Slevin Congressional Internship Endowment.

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