Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service Program

The Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows Program provides talented undergraduates with a unique government service experience through 10-week, full-time, high-level summer internships with elected officials and agencies at the federal, state and local levels. The Program’s mission is to expose students to government work and its impact. 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 elite universities – the University of Virginia, Harvard, Princeton, UC Berkeley, and the University of Southern California – and represent a diversity of backgrounds, political perspectives, and academic disciplines. Common among them is their interest in learning more about public service and the role of government.

This partnership is made possible through the collaborative work of the University of Virginia's Career Center and Miller CenterThe Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia that specializes in presidential scholarship, public policy, and political history and strives to apply the lessons of history and civil discourse to the nation's most pressing contemporary governance challenges. 

Each year, ten UVA students will be selected as Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows for Summer 2020. In addition to their internships, Schaeffer Fellows receive a generous stipend, participate in a one-day Schaeffer Fellows Summit, and are paired with a UVA alumnus/na mentor in a related field. 

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 inter-agency 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.


  • Current UVA second-year, third-year or fourth-year students graduating in December 2020 are eligible to apply. Students who are fourth-years and are returning for a 5th year master's program are not eligible.
  • All academic fields of study (declared or undeclared) are encouraged to apply.  
  • Demonstrated interest in government and careers in public service and/or coursework that provides preparation for government internship. 
  • Ability to work 40 hours/week for 10 weeks during the summer.  
  • Enrollment in at least one semester after the end of the internship.  


Schaeffer Fellows receive a stipend of $5,000. Fellows have discretion over use of the stipend but funds are intended to support 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.

Application Materials & How to Apply 

Students submit applications through the Handshake postings listed below. Students can apply to up to three of the 10 Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service internships. We are pleased to offer 6 site placements and funding for up to 4 students who have obtained their own internship.

1.     Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight | Payment Policy and Financial Management Intern 

2.     City of Richmond, Virginia Government | Mayor’s Office Intern 

3.     City of Norfolk, Virginia Government | City Planning Department Intern

4.     Virginia State Police | Homeland Security & Criminal Justice Intern *Special Deadline February 25*

5.     Smithsonian Institution | National Museum of Natural History Intern, Office of Education and Outreach

6.     Arlington County, Virginia Government | Continuum of Care (CoC) Services Intern with Special Project on Racial Disparities

7.     Self-Obtained Unpaid Internship in Government | This year we are pleased to offer funding for up to four students who have secured their own unpaid internships in government (local, state, federal or congressional internships excluding political campaigns) in one of the following areas below:

  • Congressional Internship with a Republican Congress Member (1)
  • Congressional Internship with a Democratic Congress Member (1)
  • Any Internship with a local, state or federal agency (Up to 2)


You can apply for up to THREE internships. The following application materials are required for each application and are uploaded through Handshake: 

  1. Application Form (the same form can be used if applying to 2 or 3 internships) 

    • Short answer essay (maximum of 500 words; see prompt in form)  

    • Contact Information for two references (one academic and one professional who can serve as references to be called upon if needed regarding your application; recommendation letters are NOT needed)
    • Optional budget proposal to request additional funding
  2. Resume (maximum 2 pages)
  3. Unofficial SIS Transcript
  4. For internships secured by the Career Center: Cover letter (maximum 1 page)
  5. For applicants applying to the Self-Obtained Funding: Official Offer Letter from Internship Site (this should include the job description, the internship supervisor’s name and title and if the organization first requires you receive a security clearance in order to complete the internship)

Virginia State Police Due February 25, 2020 at 11:59pm EST.

All Other Applications are due by Sunday, March 15, 2020 at 11:59pm EST.   


The Award Process 

The application for the Leonard Schaeffer Fellowship program is now open and the deadline to apply will be announced in the spring semester. To apply, refer to the section above or search postings within the Jobs section of Handshake using the keywords “Leonard Schaeffer.” Application materials will be forwarded to the corresponding agency/employer. The placement sites may require additional application materials to be completed. Applicants selected for an interview with an internship site will be notified starting March 16-March 26. After interviews have been completed, placement sites will then select one finalist and an official offer will be extended by Friday, March 27, 2020. 

If applying for self-obtained internship funding, a committee of faculty and staff will review applications. An interview is not required and those awarded will be notified by Friday, March 27, 2020.

For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact Dreama Johnson at dreama@virginia.edu.

Important Information and Dates for 2020

Interns will be required to complete written evaluations throughout the internship highlighting accomplishments, personal growth, and impact of the internship on future career considerations. Interns will also complete a review process with their supervisor and will be required to attend monthly meetings (at least 3 in total) with a University of Virginia alumni mentor outside of their internship office. With the help of the Career Center, students will identify a mentor as a part of the on-boarding process. Interns must be available to attend the following:

  • Late April: Reception for Fellows at the Miller Center of Public Affairs | Time TBA
  • Late April: Schaeffer Fellows Virtual Orientation | Time TBA
  • Late May: Internships Commence | Varies by site
  • June 25-28: Schaeffer Fellows Summit in Washington D.C. with national cohort | Fellows not interning in the Washington D.C. area will have all travel and hotel accommodations arranged and paid for by the Foundation
  • Late July/Early August: Internships End | Varies by site


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