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.

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

Sonoma State’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

  • Wednesday, March 3, 2021 - Application packets are due to the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs (Send to: affairss@sonoma.edu)
  • March 8 - 11, 2021 - Tentative preliminary interviews*
  • March 22 - 25, 2021 - Tentative dates for finalist interviews with President Sakaki*

*Tentative dates 

Application Details

Application packets must be emailed to affairss@sonoma.edu no later than 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 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  [Link to Form]
  • Two-page personal statement of interest
    • May be single or double spaced
    • No margin restrictions
  • Current resume
  • 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 Academic Requirement Report (ARR) is acceptable

Questions may be directed to Sue Hardisty, hardists@sonoma.edu or 707-664-2838.


Interested students should review the links below: