The Capital Fellows Programs are public policy fellowships in California state government, administered by the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento.
Created in 1957, the Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellowship Program is one of the oldest and most prestigious fellowship programs in the nation. The program provides aspiring public servants of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to directly participate in the legislative process as full-time professional staff in the Assembly. Fellows gain valuable insight into California politics and public policy while working closely with policymakers and elected officials.
The 11-month fellowship provides an introduction to public policy formation and adoption through full-time work as professional staff in the Assembly. Fellows also participate in a graduate seminar conducted by California State University, Sacramento to further their understanding of state governance. Fellowship alumni have gone on to hold positions of leadership in both the public and private sectors. Distinguished alumni include elected state and federal officials, California Supreme Court Justices, legislative staff, community advocates, chief executive officers, university professors and administrators.
Every year, 18 highly motivated individuals are invited to become Assembly Fellows. The Assembly Fellowship Program looks for people who are passionate about the state of California and interested in legislative work.
The Nature of Fellowship Work
Assembly Fellows are placed in an Assembly Member’s Capitol office, where they work as full-time professional staff. Each Fellow is paired with a senior-level staff person who mentors him/her throughout the year. During their orientation and placement in a legislative office, Assembly Fellows learn about a wide range of issues from key decision makers and are provided the opportunity to influence public policy.
Fellows work in a capacity similar to the Assembly’s legislative staff. A Fellow’s responsibilities may include: facilitating bills through the legislative process, researching and analyzing policy issues, writing speeches, speaking to groups, and working with constituents, lobbyists and other groups. Fellows placed with an Assembly Member who is also chair of a committee may have the opportunity to work with committee staff members. Committee assignments can include analyzing bills before they are heard in committee and assisting in the planning of informational hearings.
The fellowships begin in October with an orientation that provides a working knowledge of state government structure and the legislative process, with key people including legislative members, senior staff, journalists, lobbyists and state government officials. Assembly Fellows receive graduate units from the Political Science Department at Sacramento State. The graduate seminars are a required component of the fellowship program. The seminars are designed to introduce incoming Fellows to legislative and budget processes, as well as current policy issues. The seminars also provide time for Fellows to discuss what they are learning on the job and the opportunity to hear from legislators and senior policy staff. Upon successful completion of the fellowship, Assembly Fellows earn 6 graduate units and receive a Graduate Certificate in Applied Policy and Government.
Fellows receive a monthly stipend of $2698/month; medical, dental and vision benefits; and student loan deferments.
The only prerequisite for the programs is a bachelor’s degree in any major and a demonstrated interest in state government and public service. Applicants must be at least 20 years of age or older by September 1 of the fellowship year and all qualified applicants are welcome to apply. Fellows come from all economic, cultural, career and educational backgrounds, and no previous legislative or political experience is required. Applicants from outside of California are welcome to apply. Fellows are not required to be U.S. citizens, but they must provide proof of appropriate immigration status. The Capital Fellows Programs do not meet the requirements for F-1 or J-1 visas.
Members of the selection committee look for demonstrated academic and professional achievement, community involvement, real world experience, political awareness and leadership potential.
Pam Chueh, Director
Center for California Studies, Sacramento State
6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819-6081
Phone 2: 916-278-7541
Number of Interns: 10 to 20
Compensation/Benefits: Academic Credit, Stipend
Duration: 6 to 12 months
Academic Level: Recent College Graduates, Graduate Students, Business School Students, Law School Students