Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service

About  |  Eligibility  |  Benefits  |  Internships  |  Application Requirements

Summer Internships 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 Schaeffer 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 University, Princeton University, U.C. Berkeley, USC, and University of Virginia.

Schaeffer Fellows are exposed to government experiences which include but are not limited to:

  • interacting with government officials and constituents
  • tracking legislation
  • conducting research
  • drafting policy memos
  • talking points or constituent letters
  • attending interagency council meetings, working groups, community events or congressional hearings
  • supporting program development and implementation
  • assisting with social media
  • contributing to daily office operations
  • developing lasting professional networks with government employees and other interns

In addition to full-time internships, Fellows participate in a series of educational site visits, professional development events, 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.

Visit the Schaeffer Fellows National Website

2019 USC Schaeffer Fellows


Competitive candidates will have:

  • current USC sophomores, juniors, OR seniors graduating December 2019 or later (bachelor’s degree must not post prior to December 2019 for Progressive Degree students)
  • minimum 3.5 cumulative USC GPA
  • demonstrated experience in public service and/or coursework that provides preparation for a demanding government internship

No prior public service record required; however, competitive candidates will be able to demonstrate transferable skills from other experiences.

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, work well with others, and have a good sense of humor. Graphic design skills are a plus.

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Schaeffer Fellows receive a stipend based on placement location and cost of living – $6,000 for Washington D.C. & $5,000 for Sacramento and Los Angeles. Fellows have discretion over use of stipend but funds are intended to support air travel, housing, and some discretionary expenses.

Fellows should expect to have some out of pocket expenses. Stipends are intended to make a high-level public service internship accessible to qualified applicants. Students with demonstrated need may be eligible for additional funding and are encouraged to contact USC Academic Honors and Fellowships at to discuss supplemental financial assistance.

Please note, housing is not prearranged; however, interns placed in D.C. and Sacramento will be offered assistance to secure housing when requested.


  • April 30:  Schaeffer Fellows Virtual Orientation
  • Late May:  Internships Commence
  • June 20-23:  Schaeffer Fellows Summit in Washington D.C. with national cohort
  • Early Fall:  Schaeffer Fellows Recognition Luncheon at USC

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Internship Placements

Up to ten Schaeffer Fellowships will be offered for Summer 2019 in Washington D.C., Sacramento, and Los Angeles. Schaeffer Fellows are offered placements in an internship to work full-time for at least ten weeks (typically mid-May through the first week of August).

View Previous Internships Here

Washington D.C. (Federal)

Fellows are supported with a $6,000 stipend.

Washington D.C. Fellows are typically placed in a congressional office internship. Applications should address general interest in placement – see instructions below. Specific placements will not be listed prior to the priority deadline. Follow instructions to apply below. 

Interested applicants who have secured or are in the process of securing their own internship in a congressional office or federal agency not available through our program may submit a cover letter that includes the federal-level office to which they have applied, their interests and qualifications, and the expected hiring timeline.

Sacramento, CA (State)

Fellows are supported with a $5,000 stipend.

2019 Schaeffer Fellow Internship Placements:

  • Assemblymember Ed Chau  (49th District)
  • Assemblymember Phillip Chen (55th District)
  • Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (59th District)
  • Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove (54th District)
  • Assemblymember Tom Lackey (36th District)
  • Senator Robert Hertzberg

Los Angeles, CA (Local)

Fellows are supported with a $5,000 stipend.

L.A. Fellows are typically placed across several of the Mayor’s Offices and related projects. 2019 placements will not be listed prior to the priority deadline. Follow instructions to apply below. Check back for updates early spring.

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Application Requirements

  1. Online Schaeffer Fellows Application
  2. 500-word cover letter(s) for 1-3 internships of interest (site specific for local/state; general for federal) – see Internships above for more information about internships offered.
    • Cover Letters should be tailored to specific internship placements listed under each location above when possible. If placement information is not yet available, utilize general responsibilities and candidate profiles for the level of government to craft letter.
    • All letters should address: applicant’s background; interest in learning about public service and reasons for selecting level of government; demonstrated understanding of pressing social issues; explanation of preparedness through relevant academic, professional or personal experience.
    • Letters for Washington D.C. (Federal level) should speak generally about qualifications and interest in working in a Congressional office. Should address “Chief of Staff”.
      1. Ideal candidates are interested in learning about legislative process at the federal level and curious about careers in public service.
      2. Responsibilities may include: drafting constituent letters, tracking bills, conducting legislative research, drafting statements for Congressional record, assisting with social media, sorting mail, answering incoming calls, and contributing to daily office operations.
    • Letters for sites listed in Sacramento (State level) should address the specific office(s) listed above.
      1. Ideal candidates are bright, self-starting, energetic student leaders interested in learning the dynamics of state government.
      2. Responsibilities may include: research, planning, and logistics for events and project; providing accurate information in response to constituent inquiries and community issues; assisting community-based organizations on various administrative tasks, casework, legislative research efforts, and event organizing.
    • Letters for sites listed in Los Angeles (Local level) should speak generally about qualifications and interest in working for a local government office.  Should address “Chief of Staff”.
      1. Ideal candidates are innovative and entrepreneurial in their role and have a demonstrated interest in, or prior experience with, public engagement, economic development, international affairs, small business and entrepreneurship.
      2. Responsibilities may include: planning meetings, assisting with gathering important stakeholders, and partnering with lead staff members in event planning.
  3. Resume (2 page max.) including education, work history, public service experience, and other related skills.
  4. Two letters of recommendation (signed PDF on letterhead) – at least one letter should come from a faculty member. All recommenders should send letters directly to

PLEASE NOTE: Applicants nominated by USC will have the opportunity to update application materials prior to being forwarded to external internship sites.

Dates & Deadlines

Summer 2019 Application Opens:  First Week of December

Summer 2019 Priority Deadline:  Sunday, January 13, 2019 by 11:59pm
Priority deadline applicants will be given preference in the process but are not guaranteed an internship. Schaeffer Fellowships will be awarded to those applicants best fitting the needs of the office.

Due to a high volume of applications, we will not be reopening the application for rolling submissions Summer 2019.

Interviews:  Early February
Competitive applicants that submit by the priority deadline will be invited to interview with a USC faculty panel early February. Finalists will be recommended to internships with our partners for a second round interview. Final internship placement will be determined by the government office mid-spring.

Self-secure internships will be considered for an interview following the first round of program-secured interviews.

Faculty will nominate a select group of applicants to forward to internship sites for consideration. Those applicants will be given the opportunity to update cover letters prior to external review.


AHF Open Advising Period: November – Mid-January
Request an Appointment

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