Cal Poly Global Site Tag

Google Tag Manager

Panetta Congressional Internship Program

In August 2020, the Panetta Institute will begin the 22nd 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.

Cal Poly's 2019 Panetta Intern, Christine Lam, will talk about her experience at the institute and working in a congressional office in Washington D.C. during an informational session on Thursday, January 16, from 11:10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Building 52, Room E28.

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.

2020 Call for Applications

Application Timeline

January 29, 2020 - Application packets are due to the Office of the Provost 

February 5-14, 2020 - Tentative preliminary interviews*

February 17 and 21 - Tentative dates for finalist interviews with President Armstrong*

*Tentative dates will be finalized in mid-January

Application Details

Application packets must be hand delivered to the Office of the Provost (Building 01, Room 305) no later than 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 29, 2020.

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

Packets are to be paper clipped together together, please no report covers or staples.

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
  • Incomplete or electronic applications will not be considered.

Questions may be directed to Jeanne Scott, or 805-756-2186.

Interested students should review the links below:

Christine Lam

Christine Lam - 2019 Panetta Intern

Christine Lam, a political science major seeking a career in public service, will serve as Cal Poly’s 2019 representative to the Panetta Institute for Public Policy’s Congressional Internship Program. Lam was nominated by Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong to join other students from California universities in Washington D.C., where they will work full-time in the office of a congressional representative.

“The Panetta Internship is Learn by Doing in its purest form,” said Lam. “Not only will I have the ability to see the political process at its core, but I will also be able to learn from many well-qualified and experienced individuals during the training process.”

“In terms of my career, I do think this would be very important since I am getting experience at the national level. I will have a better understanding of its inner workings and processes.”

Lam is a first-generation college student. She plans to graduate in two years and earn a master’s degree in public policy by 2022. The 19-year-old junior from San Francisco is concentrating in American politics and minoring in ethics, public policy, science, and technology. Lam previously interned for San Francisco District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, during which she worked with constituents on community issues including public transportation, neighborhood safety, and affordable housing in the city’s Richmond District.

“My goal is to become a legislative aide or policy analyst where I can create policies that help underrepresented groups,” she said. “I hope to create policies that increase equity and access to resources.”

Lam is the 19th Cal Poly student to participate in the Panetta Institute program, which is in its 21st year and is recognized as one of the leading internship courses in the nation because of the rigorous training it provides.

The Panetta Institute awards scholarships to students from each of the 23 California State University campuses along with one each from Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California, and Santa Clara University. The program is open to all academic majors. Secretary Leon E. Panetta, the nine-term Central Coast congressman who later served as director of the CIA and secretary of defense for former President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, said the internship offers a unique opportunity for students.

“There’s just no substitute for this firsthand experience to promote public service,” he said. “We’ve had tremendous cooperation from our members of Congress — both Republicans and Democrats — in working with our students.”

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.


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

Related Content