Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service

About  |  Eligibility  |  Funding  |  Internships  |  Application

Summer Internships in Government for Undergraduates

The Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service program provides a unique experience to talented undergraduates by exposing students to government work and its impact through 10-week, full-time, high level internships at the local, state, and federal level. While not all Fellows will pursue a career in government, the program creates the opportunity for participants to become engaged citizens and develop an informed view of government service and operations. Schaeffer Fellows are selected from five universities – Harvard, Princeton, U.C. Berkeley, USC, and UVA.

In addition to full-time internships, Fellows participate in a series of site visits, professional development, and gatherings with Fellows from other universities. Additionally, Schaeffer Fellows are paired with a USC alumnus in a related field who serves as a mentor during their experience.

National Program Dates

  • Late April: Schaeffer Fellows Virtual Orientation
  • Late May: Internships Commence
  • June 26-28, 2020: Schaeffer Fellows Summit in Washington, D.C. with national cohort
  • Fall semester: Schaeffer Fellows Recognition Luncheon at USC

Fellows are required to meet all program expectations and attend all events specified by USC and the national Schaeffer Fellows program.

Visit National Website   |   2019 USC Schaeffer Fellows

Eligibility & Selection Criteria

Competitive candidates must:

  • be a current USC sophomore or junior. Seniors may apply only if enrolling in at least 12 units of undergraduate degree required courses in the fall. Preference will be given to candidates with at least one full academic year of undergraduate coursework remaining after fellowship. (Progressive Degree students must not begin master’s-only degree requirements in the fall).
  • have a minimum 3.5 cumulative USC GPA
  • demonstrate relevant experience and/or coursework that provides preparation for a demanding government internship. While no prior public service record is required, competitive candidates will be able to demonstrate transferable skills and an interest in public service.

Ideal candidates are mature, detail-oriented, and motivated. Competitive applicants will possess excellent verbal and written communication skills, an ability to prioritize multiple tasks under tight deadlines, and work well with others.


Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows receive a living stipend based on internship location. Fellows have discretion over use of their stipend but funds are intended to support relocation costs, housing, and/or some discretionary expenses. Fellows should anticipate some out of pocket expenses.

  • Federal (Washington D.C.) – $6,000
  • State & Local (Los Angeles and Sacramento) – $5,000

Stipends are intended to make high-level public service internships accessible to qualified applicants. Students with demonstrated financial need may be able to request additional funding. Contact Academic Honors and Fellowships at to discuss supplemental financial assistance.

Stipends are disbursed to Fellows 3-4 times during the summer depending on Provost Payroll schedule.


Up to 10 undergraduate students will be selected as Schaeffer Fellows from USC for summer 2020 to work full-time (35-40 hours per week) for at least ten weeks (typically mid-May through the first week of August). View all previous Schaeffer Fellow internships here.

Internships Identified by Academic Honors & Fellowships

Our office identifies several internships with partner offices, which are typically with California elected officials located in Los Angeles, Sacramento, or Washington, D.C.

Competitive applicants will be invited to interview. Following the interview, recommended candidates will be asked to submit a cover letter for one or more program secured internships based on best fit OR submit an application directly to an internship program with their local, state, or federal representatives. Ultimately, the candidate is expected to accept the first internship offer received.

2020 Internships Available through Partner Offices
In Progress (subject to change)

  • Office of Assemblymember Ed Chau (Sacramento)
  • Office of Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer (Sacramento)
  • Office of Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove (Sacramento)

2019 Program Secured Internships

  • Office of California Attorney General, Press Room (Sacramento)
  • Office of Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer (Sacramento)
  • Office of Assemblymember Kamlager-Dove (Sacramento)
  • Office of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (Los Angeles)

Self-Secured Internships Identified by Applicant

Candidates who have already applied for or secured an internship (defined a minimum of Conditional Offer of Employment) will be asked to provide information on their hiring status. Self-secured internships at the federal level may have earlier application deadlines. Use the resources below for more information on applications for agencies, committees, and representatives at the federal level.

Security Clearances: if security clearance is required, the internship start date must fall on or before June 8th to allow for completion of 10 weeks. Please note: the U.S. State Department clearance process may take as long as 150 days or more (~4-5 months). Pending security clearance does not automatically disqualify a candidate from final selection but all fellowships are contingent on confirmed hire.

2019 Self-Secured Internships

  • Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (Los Angeles)
  • Office of Los Angeles County District Attorney (Los Angeles)
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee (Washington, DC)
  • Office of Congressmember Jimmy Panetta (Washington, DC)
  • U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence & Research (Washington, DC)
  • Office of U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (Washington, DC)


Application Timeline

Summer 2020 Application Opens: November 5, 2019

Summer 2020 Deadline: Sunday, January 12, 2020 by 11:59pm

Interviews: Early February (Skype accommodation available)

  • Faculty will recommend candidates to invite to apply directly to at least one program secured internship OR an internship with a home district representative (i.e. city mayor, state senator, etc.). Second-round interviews will be conducted at the discretion of the hiring offices.
  • SELF-SECURE ONLY: if recommended by the interview committee, self-secure applicants will receive instructions for next steps in the process on an individual basis.

February – March: Recommended candidates apply directly to internship sites and/or monitor progress of self-secured position hiring process. AHF will communicate final hiring decisions and make final determination for granting fellowships.

Early April: 2020 USC Schaeffer Fellows confirmed

Application Requirements

Please prepare to submit the following by the January deadline:

  1. Online Application Form (preview application here)
  2. Resume (2 pages max.) including education, work history, public service experience, and/or other relevant skills.
  3. Two recommendation forms (at least one from a USC faculty member) – applicants will invite recommenders to complete the form through the application portal (preview recommendation form here).

Apply Here

AHF General Advising Period: November – Early January
Request an Appointment

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