Internships and Career Development

Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics

The Unruh Institute of Politics is known for providing USC students with real-world experience in politics, policy making, nonprofits, and all things related to public service. Students receive course credit for their internship experience, and scholarships are available to USC students interning in the summer.

Traditional Internships: For the traditional internship program, students enroll in POSC 395 or IR 391 and intern in a government agency, elected official’s office, nonprofit organization, election campaign, political consulting firm, communications company, and more. Students meet with staff at the Unruh Institute to match their specific qualifications and interests with available internship opportunities. Students are also given career guidance through mock interviews, professional development workshops, and expert panels throughout the program. Our robust internship program includes hundreds of opportunities in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Washington, DC, New York City, and throughout the United States. Prior internship providers have included: Lucas Public Affairs, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy, the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and numerous California Assembly and Senate offices.


Research Internships: Alternatively, students can enroll in POSC 395 and opt instead to join a 5-6 person student team and conduct 100 hours of research with a prominent partner on policy issues facing local, state, and federal government. Students develop solutions to real-world challenges, such as mass transportation, climate change, homelessness, broadband access, educational disparities, and wildfires. The research team is supported by the Unruh Institute through biweekly meetings and review of research proposals. At the conclusion of the semester, each team presents their final recommendations to the partnering organization and provides them with detailed research and policy suggestions. Prior research partners have included: California Strategies, California State Senator Ben Allen’s Office, Civic Health Project, Los Angeles Downtown Women’s Center, LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell’s Office, and Nature Conservancy.


High School Summer Internship Program: The USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future offers select high school students a prestigious summer internship program. This competitive program gives students the opportunity to have a collegiate internship experience while still in high school. To participate in this internship experience students will summarize and analyze one of our annual signature events, the “Climate Forward Conference”. After watching videos of the conference, students will work on their assignments throughout the summer. More detailed information about the internship can be found on the program syllabus.

Eligibility Requirements: 1) Must be a High School student—Graduating seniors do no qualify, 2) Minimum GPA 3.0, and 3) Must be available June 1-August 1.

The 2022 High School Summer Internship Program application is now closed. Please check back next summer.


Internship placements for the Fall 2022 semester are now closed. The Spring 2023 Student Interest Form will be opened during December 2022. After it's opened, students will have the opportunity to fill out the form to gain more information on the Spring 2023 internship process.

After submitting the form, we will then reach out to schedule a preliminary interview. In preparation for the interview, students should have an updated copy of their resume and have a general idea of the area of politics that they are interested in (i.e. political consulting, political campaigns, public office, etc.). Please reach out to the Unruh Institute of Politics at if you have any questions.


If you are interested in participating as an internship provider during the Fall 2022 semester, fill out our Employer Interest Form. Please reach out to the Unruh Institute of Politics at if you have any questions.

While students gain practical experience and build relationships in the world of politics, employers reap benefits such as the influx of new ideas, the opportunity to attract potential employees, and the contributions of motivated students whose class grade depends in part on their employers’ satisfaction with their work.

Learn more about CPF's Internship Programs and Scholarships from this video highlight.