Students intern in D.C.

The internship program that allows CSU students from every major to gain an education while working with government officials in Washington, D.C. just reached its 10-year anniversary. The Cal State in D.C. program started at CSU Fullerton but has since branched to other CSU campuses including Sonoma State University. 

Although originally established as a summer program only, the internship opportunity is now available for students to take in the spring. This spring’s enrollment reached a record high of 46 students and that number is estimated to double in the summer. This number still wont exceed the capacity of students that can be admitted which reaches 330 a year (both spring and summer terms). As a result of this large capacity, the program is not as competitive as some expect.

While enrolled, students are able to take a full-time academic workload while working along side CSU alumni mentors, government officials and numerous other business administrators. 

No matter what a student’s major is they will be able to find classes in the program that interest them and that cater to their career path. For example, ENSP students could work with members of the Environmental Protection Agency while business students could work with the Chamber of Commerce. Even wine business majors have the opportunity to learn about the government-regulated wine industry.

Sonoma State University Professor and Northern CSU campus representative for Cal State in D.C. David McCuan says the internship program is looking for applications from more than just POLS majors.

“Science, engineering and business majors are all under-represented right now and these government agencies are interested in their skill sets,” said McCuan. 

McCuan also mentioned that a select few organizations and agencies ask specifically for Sonoma State students when looking to the program for employment prospects. Whitney Diver, a Sonoma State alum, was the first non-FSU student to attend the program and still works with Cal State in D.C. today.

Students work in their intern positions four days a week for a total of 30-40 hours. McCuan said the program’s faculty typically arranges the internships for the students because of their large list of government connections, but some do find organizations on their own. 

Professors involved in the program teach classes pertaining to their field of expertise but develop an angle to demonstrate the government’s involvement in that field. 

Class subjects range from sustainability and globalization to lobbying policy development. Members of CSU alumni that are currently working in D.C. also work as mentors to the students during the program. There are more than 35,000 CSU alumni currently working in or around Washington D.C.

“Students enrolled in this spring’s program will spend a lot of time working with lobbyists and fundraising firms because of the upcoming elections,” said McCuan. “A select few will be working with a committee raising money for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

The Cal State in D.C. program is said to be the most affordable way to study in D.C. The fees are lower than competing programs, and because of the recently signed long-term housing contracts, housing fees are also lower. Tuition and fees can be covered by FAFSA and other financial aid.

In celebration of the program’s 10-year anniversary, there will be an invite-only reception in the Capitol Hill visitor’s center on Feb. 26. Included on the list of attendees is Sonoma State President Ruben Armiñana and Whitney Diver. 

Any student interested in joining the Cal State in D.C. internship program should first contact McCuan by email or visit him during his office hours to find out how the program can benefit them personally. For more general information about the program visit