The U.S.-Panama Innovation, Competitiveness and Leadership Program

The U.S.-Panama Innovation, Competitiveness and Leadership Program

Empowering the next generation of Panamanian leaders to transform the country into a sustainable economic powerhouse. 

As a Panamanian university student, you have a stake and a say in the future viability of your country. Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. But with growth comes the need for innovation, education and the skills to fill an increasing number of jobs.

The Washington Center has developed this immersive professional development program in Washington, D.C. If you are interested in a career in education, urban planning, renewable energy, biodiversity, climate change, agro-industry or food safety, this is your chance to write the next chapter of Panama's future.


This is a highly selective program. To be eligible to participate, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a Panamanian citizen with a valid passport.
  • Have completed at least two years of undergraduate studies OR be currently enrolled in a masters or post-graduate program at an accredited Panamanian university.
  • Have a grade point average of at least 80/100.
  • Be proficient in the English language, both written and spoken (having a TOEFL iBT score of 80 or higher)

Program Components

During this 15-week program you'll intern full-time Monday through Thursday, gaining professional experience and building your professional network. On Fridays you'll participate in professional development programming.

Once a week, you'll take an academic course where you'll learn about things like economic development or policy-making related to science, technology and innovation through panel discussions, site visits and briefings. Small group discussions, speaker series and civic engagement activities will further develop your professional skills and equip you to make a positive difference in your community. Throughout the term, you will also compile a portfolio to showcase what you've learned.

Program Cost

Sponsorship covers the program and housing fees, as well as your J-1 Visa SEVIS fee, health insurance, airfare (up to $700) and a stipend for living expenses.

Housing and Living

The community you become a part of is one the best things about The Washington Center. You never know what will spark a conversation that turns a roommate from halfway around the globe to a lifelong friend. You might come for an internship, but you’ll be amazed by what you can learn from a late night burger run.

We don't like to brag, but our neighborhood, NoMa, is one of the coolest and 'most connected' neighborhoods in D.C. You'll be in the middle of it all with easy access wherever you need to go.

Want to learn all about TWC housing, the community and the neighborhood? Check out our Housing page below.

TWC Housing


Most student interns share a 2-bedroom/2-bath apartment with three other students in our modern academic and residential building. We'll provide everything you need, most of what you'll want, and even some perks you might not have expected (like tips on where to find that burger at 2am).

Each apartment is fully furnished and includes:

  • a full dining set (pots, pans, dishes, silverware, coffee maker and toaster)
  • refrigerator
  • microwave 
  • dishwasher
  • iron and ironing board
  • vacuum cleaner
  • mop and broom
  • washer and dryer
  • wi-fi

What to Pack

Please be prepared to pack the following:

  • linens including twin-sized sheets, towels, a blanket/comforter and pillows
  • personal toiletries
  • government-issued ID card
  • at least three business professional outfits
  • notebook and pens
  • clothes hangers

Once you’ve arrived we recommend you purchase these additional items: 

  • cleaning supplies
  • dishwasher and laundry detergent
  • toilet paper and paper towels
  • groceries

Due to limited storage we cannot accept packages in advance of your check-in date.

Student Services

We give you your space, but we don't leave you totally on your own. Our student services team and alumni mentors make sure you have the support you need, any time day or night. And our disability services staff ensures that every student has the tools they need to live comfortably, complete assignments and succeed in their work.

Academic Credit

You may be eligible to receive academic credit for your participation in this program. However, credits are determined and awarded by each university. TWC does not grant credit. You are responsible for arranging any academic credit through your college or university. You should discuss arrangements with you institution, prior to starting the program.

Non-US Citizens

The Washington Center is a designated J-1 Visa sponsor by the U.S. State Department and sponsors a J-1 Visa for international students attending or recently graduated from a university in a foreign country. Once you’re accepted into The Washington Center’s program, you’ll be given details for how to secure your J-1 Visa. Special provisions may be available for Canadian citizens.

International students enrolled in U.S. universities with a valid F-1 visa can participate in TWC’s programs with their current visa as long as they remain enrolled in the university and their visa is valid until the last day of The Washington Center’s program or beyond. Please contact the home institution for further information

J-1 Visa Requirements

In order to obtain a J-1 Visa, you must be accepted into one of our programs and:

  • Be enrolled in a foreign degree- or certificate-granting university outside the United States OR have graduated from such an institution no more than 12 months prior to the program start date. Alternatively, you may have a degree or professional certificate from a foreign university and at least one year of work experience in your field.
  • Know English well enough to perform successfully in the program.
  • Plan to leave the United States within 30 days after completion of the program.

Once you have been accepted into our program and placed at an internship site, The Washington Center will send you the DS-2019 and DS-7002 forms along with other important materials.

Health Insurance

All J-1 Visa participants must certify that they have a valid health insurance policy for the entire duration of the program to comply with State Department requirements. You will need to bring proof of insurance with you when you come to the United States to provide to The Washington Center.

Your policy must include:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation to your home country in the amount of $50,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

An insurance policy secured to meet the benefits requirements must be underwritten by an insurance corporation with an A.M. Best rating of "A-" or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of "A-I" or above, a Standard and Poor's Claims Paying Ability rating of "A-" or above, or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above. Alternatively, the policy may be backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor's home country.

Dates and Deadlines

  Check-In Internship Begins Internship Ends Check-Out
Fall 2021 August 25 August 30 December 2 December 4

How to Apply

Start and complete the pre-qualification form by clicking the button below. Throughout the process, you can save your form and return to it at a later time. 

Pre-Qualification Form

Finalists will be contacted for an interview. Following the interview process, selected finalists will be invited to complete the final TWC application online.

Application Documents

You need to submit the following documents along with your application:

  • Issues Essay (500 words): discuss, explore and critically analyze an issue that relates to a specific field of interest
  • Statement of Professional Interest (100 words): describe your professional goals and internship interests, as well as the skills you wish to build
  • One-page Resumé: outline your education, academic honors or awards, professional experience, leadership experience and skills
  • Transcripts: should show course enrollment and grades for all academic semesters completed thus far
  • Copy of Passport: your valid passport ID page


You can view TWC's Internship Policies here, which includes information on student conduct, billing, grades, and much more. All students will be expected to follow these policies so we encourage you to review them.