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The Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service program exposes talented undergraduates 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 students to become engaged citizens and develop an informed view of government service and operations. Schaeffer Fellows are selected nationally from five universities – Harvard, Princeton, U.C. Berkeley, USC, and UVA.
Eligibility & Selection Criteria
Competitive candidates will have:
- a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA
- current sophomore or junior standing. Seniors are eligible to apply only if enrolling in 12+ units of undergraduate degree required courses in fall 2021. Preference will be given to candidates with at least one full academic year of undergraduate study remaining after fellowship. (Progressive Degree students must not begin master’s-only degree requirements in the fall).
- relevant experience and/or coursework demonstrating 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.
A Spring 2021 Leave of Absence does not make a student ineligible for the program, however, preference will be given to candidates who are enrolled full-time at USC in the spring.
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.
How to Apply
Up to 10 Schaeffer Fellows are selected from USC each year to work full-time (35-40 hours per week) for at least 10 weeks (typically mid-May through the first week of August).
All interested applicants should submit a complete online application for consideration for Program-Secured and/or Self-Secured internships. More information on how internship matching works during the selection process can be found in the “Internships” section below.
Summer 2021 Application Opens: December 2, 2020
Campus Deadline: January 24, 2021 by 11:59pm PST
Campus Interviews: Early- to mid- February
February – March: Semi-finalists apply directly to internships and/or monitor progress of Self-Secured hiring process. Academic Honors & Fellowships will communicate final hiring decisions from Program-Secured internships and make final selections for fellowships.
Early April: 2021 USC Schaeffer Fellows confirmed
Late May: National summer program commences
Please prepare to submit the following by the January deadline:
- Online Application Form
- Basic information & explanation of interest in the Schaeffer Fellows program
- Select specific policy areas of interest and explain
- Information on Self-Secured internship(s) (if applicable)
- Identify home district elected officials of interest
- Resume (2 pages max.) including education, work history, public service experience, and/or other relevant skills
- Two recommendations (at least one from a USC faculty member) – applicants will invite two referees to complete a recommendation form through the application portal (preview recommendation form here) by the final deadline
USC Schaeffer Fellows are selected by the University to join a national fellowship cohort of 50 Schaeffer Fellows. The cohort participates in a robust summer program alongside their internships focused on understanding public service, networking, and preparation for a professional career in any field.
Living Stipends & Accessories
Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows receive a living stipend of $5,000 disbursed 3-4 times during the summer to afford summer living expenses. Federal interns (located in D.C.) receive an additional $1,000 in funding. 2021 stipend amounts subject to adjustment based on virtual format.
Fellows have discretion over use of funds but the stipend is intended to support relocation costs, housing, and/or some discretionary expenses. Fellows should anticipate some out of pocket expenses. Students with demonstrated financial need may be able to request additional funding by contacting Academic Honors and Fellowships at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schaeffer Fellows also receive a variety of program SWAG.
Each Schaeffer Fellow is paired with an alumnus of USC and, when possible, of the Schaeffer Fellows program. Mentors meet with the Fellow one-on-one 3-4 times during the summer to reflect on the internship experience and discuss future career goals.
Schaeffer Fellows Summit
The national cohort attends an annual Summit typically in late June in Washington, D.C. to engage in public service leadership lessons and expand on professional development. The 2021 Summit is likely to be hosted virtually.
Membership in National Community
All Schaeffer Fellows gain access to a private virtual program hub to network, find event information, and access digital resources. The portal is open to Schaeffer Fellow alumni, partner university staff, and other professional partners. The national program also provides a Resource Guide with tools to prepare for and reflect on the internship experience.
National Program Dates
- Late April or mid-May: Schaeffer Fellows National Virtual Orientation
- Late May: Internships Commence
- Late June: Schaeffer Fellows Summit in Washington, D.C. with national cohort *2021 Summit anticipated to be hosted as virtual series*
- Early Fall semester: Schaeffer Fellows Recognition event at USC
Fellows are required to meet all program expectations and attend all events specified by USC and the national Schaeffer Fellows program.
In the online application, candidates will be asked to clarify their internship interests. This information will assist the interview committee in determining appropriate next steps for competitive candidates in the selection process.
Program-Secured Internships Identified by USC
Program-Secured internships are specific jobs identified by Academic Honors & Fellowships through partnerships with a select number of host offices interested in hiring a Schaeffer Fellow. These positions are typically with California elected officials in Los Angeles, Sacramento, or Washington, D.C. and are confirmed on a rolling basis through the spring due to varying hiring timelines.
Internships at the federal agency level or with representatives in other states most often require applying independently (see below).
General Selection Process for Program-Secured Positions
- Applicants who have not yet been hired for Self-Secured internship may be considered for Program-Secured jobs. Competitive applicants will be invited to interview with USC faculty and staff to identify best fit.
- After the interview, selected semi-finalists will receive individual instructions to:
- submit additional materials to be considered for one or more USC Program-Secured internships AND/OR
- will be instructed to submit an application directly to an internship program with their local, state, or federal representative(s)
- Partner offices may opt to conduct a second interview with semi-finalist candidates directly and will make final hiring decisions. Ultimately, semi-finalists are expected to accept the first internship offer received.
- Semi-finalists will be notified of final selection decisions for the Schaeffer Fellows program by AHF on a rolling basis until April.
PLEASE NOTE: Schaeffer Fellowships are limited to 10 per year. Students selected for a Schaeffer Fellowship will be notified by Academic Honors and Fellowships. Receiving a recommendation to apply for an internship and/or an internship offer does not guarantee a Schaeffer Fellowship but it is necessary in order to be considered for the program.
Self-Secured Internships Identified by Applicant
Self-Secured internships are internships identified by a candidate for which they have submitted an application or have already been hired on their own (defined by a minimum of “Conditional Offer of Employment”). Candidates pursuing Self-Secured internships are encouraged apply to be a Schaeffer Fellow and use the space in the application to detail their hiring status.
If invited to interview and recommended by the committee, semi-finalists with a pending or confirmed Self-Secured internship will receive additional instructions for next steps.
Resources for Self-Secured Federal Positions
If interested in internships with federal agencies, committees, and specific representatives, candidates should plan to apply directly based on the office’s hiring timeline as these positions will typically not be available as a Program-Secured opportunity. These internship programs often have earlier deadlines. Use the resources below for more information:
- U.S. State Department Student Internship Program
- U.S. House of Representatives College Internships – Members & Committees
- U.S. Senate Internship Opportunities Bulletin
Security Clearance Process
If a security clearance is required to confirm hiring, the internship start date must fall on or before June 1st to allow for completion of 10 weeks before the start of the fall term. Please note: the U.S. State Department clearance process may take as long as 150 days or more (~4-5 months). A pending security clearance does not disqualify a candidate from the Schaeffer Fellows program, however to be selected for the program candidates must have an active security clearance (if required for the job) and a confirmed internship offer.
Examples of Previous Internships
2019 & 2020 Program-Secured Internships
- California Department of Transportation
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- California Attorney General Communications Team
- U.S. Senator Kamala Harris – District Office
- Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer & Assemblymember Kamlager-Dove
2020 Self-Secured Internships 2020
- Contra Costa Public Defender’s Office
- Los Angeles District Attorney – Sex Crimes Unit
- San Francisco Public Defender’s Office
- U.S. Agency for Global Media
- U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
- U.S. Department of Commerce
- U.S. Senator Holly Mitchell
Before starting an application, please thoroughly review all of the above information. Contact us with any additional questions.
AHF General Advising Period: November – January
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