2023 High School Summer Internship Program Cohort Group Photo
2023 High School Summer Internship Program Cohort Group Photo

The USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future (CPF), in partnership with the USC Wrigley Institute for Environment and Sustainability, offers select high school students a prestigious summer internship program that is held entirely online. This competitive program gives high school students (no graduating seniors; sorry), who have a minimum 3.5 GPA, the opportunity to have a collegiate internship experience by:

  • Closely watching one of our annual signature events, the “Climate Forward Conference,”
  • Writing a 5-10 page collegiate-level summary of the main points of the conference panel,
  • Writing a 5-10 page essay with personal perspectives on the pros and cons of the conference panelist viewpoints (at least 10 properly cited outside sources needed), and
  • Attending the online introduction with CPF staff, the mid-internship check in with CPF staff, and the final wrap up with CPF and Wrigley staff, and finally,
  • Submitting a photo, testimonial about the experience, and parental approval to have both published on the CPF website (if under 18)

Only when all these elements are successfully completed, will the student be granted the title of “Summer Research Intern for the USC Center for the Political Future and the USC Wrigley Institute for Environment and Sustainability” and recognized as such on the CPF website.

The application portal is NOW OPEN. We normally have far more applicants than spots available.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be a high school student. Graduating seniors do not qualify.
  • Minimum GPA 3.5
  • Must be available June 1-August 1


The application deadline is Friday, May 24 at 11:59PM PT.

More detailed information about the internship can be found on the 2024 High School Intern Program Syllabus.

If you have any questions, please email unruhins@usc.edu.


2023 High School Summer Internship Program Cohort

2023 High School Summer Internship Program Cohort: Anya Chauhan, Madison Ems, Aurora Hao, Daneya Hussien, Valerie Li, Gaurav Mellacheruvu, Dilan Mummert, Vianny Nunez, Suzuko Ohshima, Jiya Patel, Christina Perez, Brendan Poon, Xavier Ramirez, Arjun Tewari, Aditi Vikram, Camille Whetsel, and Jerry Yang (top-left to bottom-right)
2023 High School Summer Internship Program Cohort: Anya Chauhan, Madison Ems, Aurora Hao, Daneya Hussien, Valerie Li, Gaurav Mellacheruvu, Dilan Mummert, Vianny Nunez, Suzuko Ohshima, Jiya Patel, Christina Perez, Brendan Poon, Xavier Ramirez, Arjun Tewari, Aditi Vikram, Camille Whetsel, and Jerry Yang (top-left to bottom-right)

The 2023 High School Summer Internship Program cohort shared their experiences below. Read each student’s summary paper on CPF’s annual “Climate Forward Conference” by clicking on the student’s name.

  • Anya Chauhan (Junior, Bonita High School): “The CPF internship deepen my knowledge on climate change and the complex issues surrounding it. I gained valuable insights from experts and community leaders as they gave their perspectives on topics such as climate science communication, bipartisan collaboration, and effective policy mechanisms. I’m grateful for this opportunity, as it has equipped me to be a stronger advocate for climate awareness, ready to engage in meaningful discussions and contribute to positive change.”


  • Madison Ems (Senior, Yorba Linda High School): “I had the incredible opportunity of analyzing two panels from the 2023 Climate Forward Conference, where esteemed panelists engaged in thought-provoking discussions about sustainable government action to combat climate change. This experience deepened my understanding of the complexities of passing climate legislation and the importance of collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors in addressing this global issue. Working alongside fellow students and supervisors at CPF exposed me to a rich network of ideas and leaders who are dedicated to shaping a better future for our planet. This internship was truly transformative, and I hope to carry my new knowledge of research, leadership, and advocacy forward.”


  • Aurora Hao (Junior, Concord Academy): “My CPF internship introduced me to framing and reconstructing dialogues on climate change through analytical writing. Learning about sustainability across the political spectrum and understanding the importance of effective communications showed the importance of diverse perspectives and the voice of our generation. Centered on finding common ground, this internship provided the opportunity to take an interdisciplinary approach to addressing environmental challenges.”


  • Daneya Hussien (Junior, Richardson High School): “I learned invaluable lessons about the importance of staying educated, working with others, discussion, and taking proactive measures in addressing global challenges. This internship had a positive impact on my intellectual and personal growth. I’ve grown as a writer, thinker, student, and hopefully, future politician. I’m thankful this experience allowed me to witness how institutions like USC actively work everyday towards progress, which is inspiring. Interning with CPF played a significant role in making me more committed to making a positive impact on the world and fueling my passion to make a difference.”


  • Valerie Li (Junior, The Harker School): “My CPF internship experience was extremely insightful and rewarding. The opportunity to listen to panel discussions by a diverse group of experts genuinely transformed my view of the climate crisis, as I realized that climate change is a multifaceted issue, not just an environmental problem. The in-depth research enabled me to expand my topic knowledge, and the essays gave me the opportunity to explore my passion for climate activism and to discuss my personal opinions on the best approaches to this issue. This internship undoubtedly broadened my knowledge of the climate crisis through its detailed research and climate discussions, and it challenged me to think about how pervasive the climate crisis is.”


  • Gaurav Mellacheruvu (Senior, Westlake High School): “This enriching experience granted me valuable insights into the complexities of climate change and the pressing need for collaborative efforts to address them. Engaging with diverse perspectives from the panelists reinforced my belief in the significance of finding common ground and embracing bipartisanship. The internship undoubtedly augmented my understanding of environmental policy and sharpened my skills in critical analysis. I’m immensely grateful to be able to participate in this unique internship and I’ve learned plenty that will help me further progress my political future.”


  • Dilan Mummert (Senior, Tesoro High School): “The CPF internship allowed me to work alongside experts in the field, collaborate on various projects, and develop a deeper understanding of political dynamics. Through analyzing the Climate Forward Conference, I gained the ability to process media information and create an informative and analytical essay. CPF’s emphasis on seeking common ground and finding solutions to complex issues allowed me to view the topics through a bipartisan lens. This internship taught me valuable skills to help me be a better writer, political advocate, and researcher.”


  • Vianny Nunez (Junior, Alliance Collins Family College Ready High School): “I will never find another internship quite like this one. For a virtual internship, I’ve never been so immersed in today’s politics. I learned how to formally write, edit, and organize an essay several pages long. This program gave me a clear view of my past note-taking habits that helped me grow as a future college student. The tight-knit sense of community that CPF brings ensured that ALL students are on the correct path and should be unafraid to ask for help. CPF communication is like no other; I’ve never come into contact with more trustworthy, kind, and caring people within a business setting. CPF will be something I hold extremely close to my heart as it helped me grow into a better, smarter, and more informed person.”


  • Suzuko Ohshima (Sophomore, North Hollywood High School): “I’ve always valued writing essays as a method of articulating an argument. This internship allowed me to work on that skill while communicating about the climate crisis, an issue I care deeply about. I expanded on my ability to work with outside sources, while being mindful of conciseness and clarity. The thing I enjoyed most about this internship was the freedom I had to organize my thoughts the way that I wanted to.”


  • Jiya Patel (Senior, Canyon High School): “This internship informed me about the politics of climate change and taught me how to write a college-level research paper. I found the Climate Forward Conference very insightful, and I was interested to see politicians’ perspectives on this pressing issue. The CPF staff was helpful all summer, and I’m grateful to them for providing this opportunity to high school students!”


  • Christina Perez (Senior, La Serna High School): “I experienced a flexible, engaging opportunity to communicate my thoughts in a self expressive way and learned about the status of climate change near me. As a teenager, it can often feel as though we are shut out from the real issues of the world. Fortunately, inspiring leaders like those at the conference, worked hard to get the community to hear them. I was able to understand the severity of division by the government to urgently create support. I enjoyed being able to hear the truth in full effect and not watered down because of my age.”


  • Brendan Poon (Senior, Polytechnic High School): “I started my CPF internship with a relatively simplistic understanding of the issues around climate change but a desire to better understand them. Over the last two months, I conducted interdisciplinary research and encountered diverse perspectives that challenged and refined my assumptions and opinions about solutions to global warming, particularly regarding the role of the private sector. I enjoyed seeing Gina McCarthy and Bret Stephens trade barbs, but ultimately reach unexpected points of consensus. Thanks very much to Steph Domond, Kamy Akhavan, and the entire CPF team for making this experience possible.”


  • Xavier Ramirez (Junior, Abraham Lincoln Senior High School): “CPF provided the best staff and mentors to work with over the course of writing my paper. My research was done with full freedom, which gave me the opportunity to express myself academically. I enjoyed refining my writing and research skills while learning about the politics of climate change. It was helpful that the internship was held virtually because it gave me flexibility with my summer schedule. CPF created a welcoming space for young learners to thrive in and I cannot be more thankful. This internship was a great start for my future in policy research.”


  • Arjun Tewari (Senior, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South): “The CPF internship taught me about the intersection between climate and policy. I was able to fuse my passion for international relations with sustainability, as well as learn about the global impacts of climate change. I learned about current climate policy and explored possible new solutions. I also learned about how USC is combating climate change on campus, across the nation, and world. The CPF internship allowed me to explore my passions for policy and the climate.”


  • Aditi Vikram (Junior, Greenhill High School): “I gained valuable experience and knowledge from the program directors that I believe will help me succeed in the future. Summarizing the panels taught me the importance of good word economy, and the essay allowed me to express my own opinions in relation to the panelists. The feedback I received on my summary was incredibly helpful and I’ll be applying it to my future writing. I’m grateful for the advice I received on succeeding in the political science field.”


  • Camille Whetsel (Senior, South Pasadena High School): “The conference videos were interesting and showed a range of opinions. I learned to evaluate the different perspectives and identify common themes to ensure that politicians can support and advance climate change opportunities. I appreciated the assistance I received in reviewing the information and presenting clear arguments to evaluate and support options. I enjoyed the flexibility of the program and found the program managers very committed and helpful. I found the internship to be an interesting, fulfilling use of time where I was able to explore issues that interested me and present my opinions.”


  • Jerry Yang (Sophomore, North Hollywood High School): “The internship experience helped me gain insight into the workings of a college, think deeper about many of the issues addressed at the conference, and developed my writing skills. I enjoyed how responsive the staff was, reliably replying to emails and addressing any concerns, which I found extremely helpful since this was my first ever internship. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and it was insightful for me, as I want to pursue environmental law and policy.”