PGPF Fiscal Internship Program in Washington, DC

About The Program


JUNE 7 – AUGUST 13, 2021

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s Fiscal Internship program engages students with fiscal policy by providing them with first-hand research experience at public policy institutions in Washington DC. Over the summer, PGPF Fiscal Interns will have the opportunity to:

  • Gain substantive policy research experience at a leading organization
  • Work under the direct supervision of a respected scholar
  • Join a diverse community of experts and students interested in budgetary and economic issues

While fiscal interns typically live and work in Washington DC, please note that the 2021 fiscal internship program may be held remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate any updates to the selected interns.

Program Description

The PGPF Fiscal Internship program offers full-time paid internships at leading policy organizations to a select group of college and graduate students interested in fiscal policy. Interns live and work in Washington DC for ten weeks during the summer while gaining professional experience, skills, and contacts that will serve them throughout their careers.

2021 PGPF Fiscal Interns will:

  • Work as a research intern for ten weeks at a leading policy organization
  • Receive a $6,000 stipend for the duration of the summer
  • Attend seminars on fiscal issues featuring leading scholars from participating organizations
  • Participate in other social, educational, and career-oriented events

2021 Interns

Congratulations to the 2021 fiscal intern cohort. Over the summer, these individuals will work at leading think tanks in Washington, DC, to conduct research and analysis on some of the nation’s most pressing fiscal and economic issues.

Audrey Xu
Rutgers University
Will intern at Niskanen Center

Denae Clowers
Yale University
Will intern at Economic Policy Institute

Gabriela Lopez Gutierrez
University of Richmond
Will intern at Center for American Progress

Jake Fisher
Columbia University
Will intern at Urban Institute

JoElla Kleinhesselink
University of South Dakota
Will intern at Mercatus Center

Maria Gieg
Duke University
Will intern at Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Matthew McGough
John Hopkins University
Will intern at Kaiser Family Foundation

Nidhi Nair
University of Connecticut
Will intern at Cato Institute

Sam Thorpe
Williams College
Will intern at Brookings Institution

Sam Winickoff
Swarthmore College
Will intern at Progressive Policy Institute

Fiscal interns were also placed at the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.


The Peter G. Peterson Foundation partners with think tanks in Washington DC to provide interns with real world experience working on national fiscal issues. The institutions’ work spans a variety of issues including healthcare, Social Security, economic policy, and tax policy.

The following is the current list of participating organizations in the PGPF Fiscal Internship Program in Washington, DC:

The American Action Forum is a forward-looking policy institute dedicated to keeping America strong, free and prosperous. It seeks to promote common-sense, innovative, and solutions-based policies that will reform government, challenge outdated assumptions, and create a smaller, smarter government that will serve its citizens better.

American Compass' research, commentary, and events foster debate about the future of American conservatism and development of a policy agenda that applies conservative principles to modern challenges. Our mission is to restore an economic consensus that emphasizes the importance of family, community, and industry to the nation's liberty and prosperity.

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is a non-profit organization that combines the best ideas from both parties to promote health, security, and opportunity for all Americans. Founded in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchel, BPC drives principled and politically viable policy solutions through the power of rigorous analysis, painstaking negotiation, and aggressive advocacy. As the only Washington, DC-based think tank that actively promotes bipartisanship, BPC works to address the key challenges facing the nation.

The Brookings Institution is a private nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions. For 100 years, Brookings has analyzed current and emerging issues and produced new ideas that matter for the nation and the world.

The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues.

The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan policy institute that is dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and concerted action. Our aim is not just to change the conversation, but to change the country.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization committed to educating the public about issues that have significant fiscal policy impact. The Committee is made up of some of the nation's leading budget experts, including many of the past Chairmen and Directors of the Congressional Budget Committees, the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Federal Reserve Board.

The Economic Policy Institute's mission is to achieve shared prosperity by raising the economic status of low- and middle-income Americans. To this end, EPI works to reshape the way policymakers think about the economy to persuade them to adopt policies that are good for working Americans.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that engages in research and dissemination to shape public policy and improve the lives and opportunities of women from diverse backgrounds. Our mission is to win economic equity for all women and eliminate barriers to their full participation in society. As a leading national think tank, we build evidence to shape policies that grow women’s power and influence, close inequality gaps, and improve the economic well-being of families.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) is a leader in health policy analysis, health journalism and communication, and is dedicated to filling the need for trusted, independent information on the major health issues facing our nation and its people.

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas — bridging the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems. A university-based research center, Mercatus advances knowledge about how markets work to improve people’s lives by training graduate students, conducting research, and applying economics to offer solutions to society’s most pressing problems. Our mission is to generate knowledge and understanding of the institutions that affect the freedom to prosper and to find sustainable solutions that overcome the barriers preventing individuals from living free, prosperous, and peaceful lives. Founded in 1980, the Mercatus Center is located on George Mason University’s Arlington campus.

The Niskanen Center works to change public policy through direct engagement with the policymaking process; looks to develop and promote pragmatic proposals for policymakers, build coalitions to facilitate action, and marshal the most convincing arguments in support of our agenda

The Progressive Policy Institute is a catalyst for policy innovation and political reform based in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to create radically pragmatic ideas for moving America beyond ideological and partisan deadlock.

The Tax Policy Center (TPC) is a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, both nonpartisan research organizations in Washington, D.C. (This listing relates to the Urban Institute.) The Center is made up of nationally recognized experts in tax, budget, and social policy who have served at the highest levels of government. TPC provides timely, accessible analysis and facts about tax policy to policymakers, journalists, citizens, and researchers.


The PGPF Fiscal Internship Program has closed and is no longer accepting applications. Please check back in December 2021 for information on next year’s program.

If you have questions about the status of your application, please contact us at

Rising juniors, rising seniors, and current graduate students are eligible to apply. Students must have taken at least two courses in economics, math, statistics or political science, and have a working fluency with numbers. Experience with Microsoft Excel is highly recommended.

  • Résumé
  • Personal Statement
  • Statement of Policy Interest
  • Unofficial copy of school transcript
  • Contact information for two academic or professional references

December 15, 2020: Applications Open
January 31, 2021: Application Deadline
April 2021: Interns Notified of Selection
June 7 – August 13, 2021: Fiscal Internship in Session

This internship is ideal for upper-level college and graduate students with:

  • An academic background in economics, political science, public policy, public administration, or a related field
  • A demonstrated interest in fiscal and economic policy
  • An open mind and willingness to engage with those who share different opinions and beliefs
  • A natural curiosity for learning new things
  • A desire to live and work independently in Washington D.C.

After your application is submitted, the Peterson Foundation staff and participating host scholars will review your materials. Applicants may indicate a preference for placement at one or more organizations. Each host scholar will select applicants for interviews and will ultimately select their intern. Candidates may be contacted directly by one or more of the host scholars for an interview. Interviews typically take place in March. If offered an internship by a host scholar, applicants will have 5 days to decide to accept or reject the offer.


While we believe participating in the internship program in Washington DC is a valuable experience, our first priority is the health and safety of the fiscal interns and our partner organizations. As such, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fiscal internship program may be held remotely this year. We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate any updates in regards to the program being held virtually or in-person with the selected interns and our partner organizations. If you have any questions, please email our team at

The application website will go live on December 16, 2020. Once it does, you can create an application profile and follow directions on how to submit your application. In the meantime, take a look at the required application materials listed in the "Applying" section.

Yes. In the application process, you can signal interest in all organizations for whose internships you would like to be considered. The host organizations vary considerably in their missions, focus areas, and political ideologies. Students are encouraged to research the participating organizations before applying.

Please keep in mind that your application materials will be read directly by the host organizations for which you have applied, so your application should be tailored appropriately to highlight your skills and areas of policy interest.

Interested applicants should submit all required application materials no later than 11:59 PM EST on Sunday, January 31, 2021.

Your application will be checked for completeness by PGPF staff. Then, within a couple weeks, all completed applications will be made available to the host organizations. Host organizations will be responsible for assessing, interviewing, and hiring candidates from that point on.

We aim to provide hiring decisions by early April, but due to the logistical challenges of coordinating with so many organizations, this is not a firm date.

Yes, international students are encouraged to apply. Once offered an internship, international interns will work directly with their host organization to resolve any related visa concerns. While not every participating organization will be able to accommodate international students, a number of the host organizations have indicated that they would be able to accept students in the US on a visa, and we have had many international students successfully participate in the program in the past.

No. However, if you are selected to participate in the PGPF Fiscal Internship Program, the program coordinators can help you find resources to secure housing for the summer.

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation Fiscal Internship program is looking for a diverse group of talented students who are passionate about policy and good with numbers. The most successful candidates are ambitious, actively involved on campus or in their communities, and have demonstrated superior academic performance.

There is no "typical" fiscal intern — participants come from schools across the country, and vary widely in their political beliefs, backgrounds, and extracurricular involvement. Most participants are early on in their career, majoring in economics or public policy. Interns tend to have working knowledge of fiscal issues prior to the summer, but are not expected to be an expert by any means.

The PGPF Fiscal Internship program provides students with a strong introduction to U.S. fiscal policy by exposing interns to a wide range of fiscal issues, challenges, and potential policy solutions throughout the summer. Interns work closely with a scholar at their host organization on major policy research and are paid directly by the institution for which they work.

The program is best suited for those who feel comfortable navigating a major city on their own. Interns live and work independently in Washington DC and come together about once a week to attend seminars led by each of the participating host organizations. Additional educational and social activities are planned throughout the summer.

If you are interested in talking to a past intern about his/her experience, please contact

The 2021 program will run from June 7, 2021 – August 13, 2021. Internship positions are full-time and interns are expected to participate fully throughout the program’s duration.

If you have additional questions, please send an email to the PGPF Fiscal Internship Program Director


"The program really gave me a better sense of how top-notch think tanks function. Scholars rely on people like interns to do much of the background work for any project, and this work ends up influencing the final project, so even lower level people have great power to shape policy in DC!"

–Fiscal Intern, Brookings Institution

"The Fiscal Internship Program was an invaluable opportunity to learn about fiscal policy and engage in a meaningful way with other students with similar interest and experts in the field"

–Fiscal Intern, Brookings Institution

"Great exposure to ideas and people"

–Fiscal Intern, Economic Policy Institute

"I was really glad to have the opportunity to work at an organization whose work I’ve been following. My team here was great and they were really committed to giving me substantive work to do."

–Fiscal Intern, Kaiser Family Foundation

"My favorite thing about the internship was the opportunity to hear from speakers at various different think tanks. The range of opinions and perspectives was enlightening."

–Fiscal Intern, American Action Forum

"I really enjoyed the opportunity to hear from a wide variety of other top policy organizations in DC and learn about their research. It gave me a better picture of both the policy issues and career opportunities in various policy fields."

–Fiscal Intern, National Governors Association 

"The PGPF program was a phenomenal internship experience overall. I am ending the internship knowing a significant amount more on budget issues than I did on my first day of interning. I would absolutely recommend this program to my classmates and peers."

–Fiscal Intern, Economic Policy Institute

"I would absolutely recommend this program, the internship was fantastic, as were the seminars. I learned so much."

–Fiscal Intern, Bipartisan Policy Center

"The PGPF Fiscal Internship Program solidified my passion for economics and public policy. I definitely see myself pursuing this field in the future."

–Fiscal Intern, American Action Forum

"This summer, I did not feel like an intern, I am part of the team with the same respect and responsibilities as a full team member. My supervisors’ knowledge in the field is invaluable and they are always willing to pass that knowledge on to others."

–Fiscal Intern, Kaiser Family Foundation

"My host scholar was approachable, trusted me with significant responsibility, and encouraged my independent research exploration on the topics I was interested in. He was a great mentor throughout the summer."

–Fiscal Intern, Center for American Progress


Summer 2018 PGPF Fiscal Interns on their trip to New York

Summer 2017 PGPF Fiscal Interns with Michael Peterson

Summer 2016 PGPF Fiscal Interns touring Washington, D.C.

Summer 2016 PGPF Fiscal Interns playing The Fiscal Ship together.

Summer 2016 PGPF Fiscal Interns meeting staff at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation in New York.

Summer 2016 PGPF Fiscal Interns with Peter G. Peterson.

Summer 2015 PGPF Fiscal Interns at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

Summer 2015 PGPF Fiscal Interns

Summer 2015 PGPF Fiscal Interns

Summer 2015 PGPF Fiscal Interns

Summer 2015 PGPF Fiscal Interns

Summer 2015 PGPF Fiscal Interns

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