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. 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-, third-year or fourth-year students graduating in December 2020 are eligible to apply. 
  • 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 Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service internships. The ten internships being offered for the Summer of 2020 will be announced in the spring semester and will be listed below. 

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

  • 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)
  • Cover letter (maximum 1 page)
  • Resume (maximum 2 pages)
  • Unofficial SIS Transcript

Applications deadline will be announced in the spring semester.   

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.” Applicants will be notified of the selection committee’s decision by the end of March. The selection committee will choose 2-3 finalists for each internship. The finalists will then be contacted to set-up interviews with placement sites. The placement sites may require additional application materials to be completed. Placement sites will then select one finalist and an official offer will be extended by Wednesday, April 17. 

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

Important Information and Dates from 2019 (New dates will be announced in the spring semester.)

Interns will be required to complete written evaluation(s) throughout the internship highlighting accomplishments, personal growth, and impact of the internship on future career considerations. Frequency of these evaluations will be shared in the Virtual Orientation on April 30. They will also be required to attend monthly meetings (at least 3) with a University of Virginia alumni mentor outside of the internship office. With the help of the Career Center, students will identify a mentor as a part of the on-boarding process.  

  • April 24: Reception for Fellows at the Miller Center of Public Affairs | Time TBA
  • April 30: Schaeffer Fellows Virtual Orientation | Time TBA
  • Late May: Internships Commence | Varies by site
  • June 20-23: Schaeffer Fellows Summit in Washington D.C. with national cohort | Fellows not interning in the Washington D.C. area will have airfare/train costs reimbursed and hotel accommodations paid for up to $700
  • Late July/Early August: Internships End | Varies by site


More to Explore

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