The Jesse Marvin Unruh Fellowship Program, founded in 1957 by the legendary former Speaker Jesse Unruh and renamed in his honor in 1987, is the oldest of the four programs and one of the most prestigious legislative fellowship programs in the nation.
Each year, 18 college graduates are selected for the program from an international applicant pool. Assembly Fellows spend 11 months gaining firsthand knowledge of the California Legislature by working in Sacramento as staff to a legislative committee or an Assemblymember. Their duties are similar to those of legislative assistants and consultants, including, among other things, developing and researching legislative proposals, responding to constituent requests, analyzing bills, and writing speeches and press releases.
Qualifications and Application Requirements
- Applications must be submitted by February 10, 2014.
- Applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree by the end of the summer of the fellowship year (which begins in October).
- There are no preferred majors. Recent fellows have had backgrounds in such diverse fields as child development, religious studies, law, and biochemistry.
- Applicants must submit academic, employment and activities data, unofficial transcripts from colleges attended, a personal statement, a policy statement on a specific topic contained in the application and three references.
- Applicants must be 20 years of age by September 1, 2014 and individuals with advanced degrees or those in mid-career are also encouraged to apply.
There are two stages to the selection process. During the first stage, completed applications are screened by the fellowship selection committee. Among the things the committee looks for in future fellows are scholastic achievement, oral and written communication skills, analytic skills, campus and community service involvement, political awareness and leadership potential.
In April, approximately 70 applicants are notified in writing of their selection for a personal interview. Interviews take place in early May in Sacramento or in Los Angeles. Fellows and alternates are selected from those candidates who are interviewed by the selection committee, and written notifications are mailed in May. The deliberations of the selection committee are confidential and final. All applications become the property of the program, and if an applicant is selected, his or her application may be distributed to offices requesting a fellow.
Fellows are selected in the spring and start their programs in fall with an intensive orientation conducted by the program, after which they interview with various offices before being placed. They attend weekly graduate seminars conducted by their program's academic advisors. Non-U.S. citizens must provide proof of appropriate immigration status. The Capitol Fellows Programs do not meet the requirements for F-1 or J-1 visas.