2021 Intern Handbook
Table of Contents
- PICS Staff & Contacts
- Tips for a Successful Internship
- Making the Most of Your Summer with SMART Goals
- Professional Communications & Interaction Tips
- Alumni Mentorships
- Dress Code Guidelines
- Harassment in the Workplace
- Wrapping Up Your Internship
- Case Studies
- Optional Guides and Resources
- Tax Information
PICS staff are happy to serve as a resource for you and ready to help with any guidance you may need at any point during your PICS experience. Feel free to reach out to us at any time!
Letter of Welcome from Chuck Freyer '69, PICS Board Chairman
Congratulations on being selected as a PICS intern for 2021!
We hope you have an amazing experience, as so many other PICS interns in the past have had. Maybe some of you will find a new career direction for yourselves, but I am sure that each of you will take away from this summer some memories that will stay with you for years.
One thing I would like to impress on you is the value of getting to know your PICS Alumni Partner. For some of you, this will be your first experience with the vast Princeton alumni network, which can have a very dramatic impact on your future career opportunities, no matter what discipline you pursue or where you live. Reach out to your PICS Alumni Partner, get to know him or her, and seek their advice on how best to achieve your career goals and objectives.
Best of luck, and have a fantastic summer!
- Ask Questions. Ask for help, clarification and advice. This is a learning experience as well as an opportunity to make a contribution.
- Be Communication Savvy. Turn your phone to vibrate and do not text during meetings. Do not use your work email or work-provided computer for social networking or personal email. Remember that all electronic communication creates a permanent record.
- Be a Problem Solver. Offer observations and solutions to issues you encounter. Discuss problems with your supervisor; if you don’t tell them, they won’t know something is wrong. Be respectful and avoid blaming others. You can always contact a PICS staff member if you cannot resolve your issues.
- Be a Team Player. Be prepared to do some grunt work. As you earn more trust, you earn the right to work on more exciting projects. Be friendly to everyone, even when you disagree. Take initiative and be enthusiastic. Have a positive impact on your workplace.
- Clarify Expectations. Learn office email etiquette, break and lunch schedules, proper attire, and other internal protocols.
- Develop a Good Relationship with Your Supervisor. Clarify your own goals and expectations. Discuss ways you can contribute. Track your projects and accomplishments. Be open to feedback.
- Know Your Place. You were offered this opportunity because you are knowledgeable and skilled, but remember that, regardless of your job title, your actual role is to make life easier for your organization. The sooner you realize it’s about them, and not you, the smoother things will be.
- Learn to Be Detail Oriented. Workplaces are all about trust. Checking everything twice is the quickest way to build trust with people you don’t know very well.
- Learn Your Organization’s Policies. Try to attune yourself to unspoken policies and expectations as well. Be aware of privacy requirements.
- Observe the Workplace Culture. If you enjoy the work, but not the workplace, you won’t feel satisfied long-term. Notice which aspects of the workplace culture you’d like to avoid in future roles.
- Represent PICS and the University. You are paving the way for future Princeton students to have a PICS internship experience, so please take your role seriously. You are required to abide by all University Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities this summer.
- Utilize Your Alumni Partner. See the practical tips below in the “Alumni Partnerships” section.
Adapted from Center for Career Development
Without a doubt, your PICS internship this summer will allow you to serve your community, develop professionally, and learn about yourself along the way. To make the most of your summer, we encourage you to take some time before you start to set goals for what you want to accomplish and learn so you can track your progress and document what you’ve learned (useful for future job interviews!)
Set SMART Goals
Included in your pre-internship training is a Work & Learning Plan. Use your Plan to develop and record your goals. What are you hoping to gain from your internship? Goals should be SMART:
Specific + Measurable + Action-oriented + Realistic + Time-bound
As an example, a general goal might be: “I want to learn more about the backgrounds of my new colleagues”. Not bad, but how will you know when you’ve achieved it? A SMART version of the same goal might be:
Questions to consider when creating goals:
- What are you most looking forward to with this internship?
- Why did you decide to pursue this internship?
- What do you hope to learn and achieve?
- What are your expectations for the experience? How does this fit into your long-term plans?
Questions for your supervisor:
- With your goals in mind, what are some questions you could ask that would help you achieve your internship goals?
Adapted from John S. Weeren, Program Director, Princeton Writes
- State your purpose at the outset rather than building up to it.
- Treat all communication as relational rather than transactional, building goodwill and, potentially long-term partnerships.
- Practice the “Three Cs”: Clarity, concision, and courtesy. For emails, aim to convey your point in 6 sentences or fewer.
- Err on the side of formality until others’ expectations are clear.
- Take advantage of opportunities to share your knowledge and skills, while exercising discretion and deference.
- Adopt a positive tone, even in the face of rejection or criticism.
- Re-read everything you write. If necessary, sleep on it before sending.
- Be sensitive to the differences between workplace and classroom environments. Often in the nonprofit sector, the good of others – not personal development – is of primary importance.
- Embrace a team-based culture, avoiding an insular mindset.
- Adapt to constantly changing conditions, however frustrating, and take the absence of explanation – and even criticism for doing what you were told to do – in stride.
- Be prepared to surrender formal ownership of your work product.
- Respect the boundary between professional and personal life, but take an empathetic interest in your colleagues when an opening presents itself.
- Volunteer to do more than the work assigned to you when time allows; such help is frequently repaid when needed most.
- Make every effort to understand and fulfill your supervisor’s expectations, while also “managing up” through respectful suggestions. Developing a cordial relationship grounded in mutual esteem will contribute significantly to your success.
Since the inception of PICS in 1996, alumni have played an integral role in the success of the program. PICS was created by the Princeton University Class of 1969 Community Service Fund. PICS has become a multi-class alumni organization that funds internships, conducts hundreds of interviews annually, and provides alumni mentors in the summer during the duration of the internship. Our alumni mentors are seasoned and well-connected professionals who care deeply about making the world a better place. They know that mentoring you this summer is a great way to achieve this goal. As PICS interns, we strongly encourage you to make the most of these mentorships.
PICS requires that you reach out to your alumni mentor and attempt to connect virtually at least 3 times over the course of the summer. We’re also organizing several optional opportunities for you to connect with other Princeton alumni who share your interests; participation in these opportunities is encouraged, but not required.
- As soon as possible after receiving your alumni mentor's contact information, call or email your mentor and set up a time to have virtual coffee. Provide dates and times you are available.
- As a younger person seeking advice and support, it’s polite for you to initiate contact rather than wait to be contacted.
- Find your mentor on TigerNet by visiting alumni.princeton.edu and/or via their LinkedIn profile. Become familiar with their interests and work.
- Ask your mentor about their career path.
- Email your mentor once a week to check in and let them know how your summer is going.
- Be immediately responsive when your mentor contacts you, and make yourself available when your mentor invites you to something.
- Listen carefully to the stories your mentor tells. Ask questions. Make an effort to get past the surface and build a real connection.
- Tell your mentor your career goals and ask for them to connect you to people they know in the field.
- Take initiative, be proactive, and ask for what you need and want.
- Remember that whether or not your mentor shares your career interests is not important for networking. The important thing is that you both share the Princeton experience as a common background. The Princeton network is vast, and the chances are strong that your alumni mentor's connections could provide access that might not be otherwise available.
One of the most asked questions after an intern is accepted is “What is the Dress Code for work?” In general, business clothing should be appropriate for an office environment; it allows the intern to feel comfortable at work, yet always looks neat, clean, and professional. You should not need to break the bank to dress for work.
Even for virtual internships, adhering to a professional dress code is important. Businesses, governments, and nonprofits need to present a professional image to the public. At the start of a new position, it is better to err on the side of being too formal, rather than too informal. Based on the type of work you will be doing, your internship may require a specific uniform and/or other dress guidelines because of sanitation/health reasons, or to serve as appropriate identification for clients/patients, other staff, and the public.
Managers and supervisors are responsible for interpreting and enforcing the dress and grooming code, so it is reasonable to ask your supervisor for specific guidelines in advance. Reasonable accommodations will often be made for employees’ religious beliefs as related to attire whenever possible. If this is an issue, please discuss your needs with your supervisor in advance of your start date.
Examples of appropriate/inappropriate work attire:
- Dockers-type khaki pants
- Skirts that are knee-length or longer
- Cloth shirts
- Polo shirts or other collared shirts
- Boating/deck shoes/loafers
- Dresses that are knee-length or longer
- Halter/tank/tube tops/revealing midriffs
- Sloppy tee shirts
- Oversized sweaters, sweatshirts
- Sweatpants/jogging suits/warm-ups
- Leggings or jeans of any color
- Sandals, thongs, flip-flops or tennis shoes
- Hats (except for religious reasons)
- Excessive jewelry
The above list is not meant to be all-inclusive. Pay attention to what others in your workplace are wearing; act accordingly and use good judgment to dress neatly, professionally, and appropriately.
The most productive and satisfying work environment is one in which work is accomplished in a spirit of mutual trust and respect. We've carefully vetted the organizations that host PICS interns and have every reason to believe that you will have a safe and respectful summer, perhaps even learning many best practices about how to behave with professionalism and kindness. However, we want to make sure you are prepared in the event you experience harassment or discrimination.
Harassment is a form of discrimination that is offensive, impairs morale, undermines the integrity of employment relationships and causes serious harm to the productivity, efficiency and stability in the workplace. All employees, including interns, have a right to work in an environment free from discrimination and harassing conduct. In general, harassment means persistent and unwelcome conduct or actions toward another person. Sexual harassment is one type of harassment and includes unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature or unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
As a PICS intern, you are both expected to adhere to and are covered by the harassment and misconduct policies in place at your assigned PICS organization. You are also required to abide by all University Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities in your workplace this summer. For specific information regarding University standards for harassment, please consult the Princeton University: Rights, Rules, Responsibilities handbook section 1.2, especially sections 1.2.2 and 1.2.3.
If you are not presented with your organization’s policy on harassment in the first few days of employment, you should ask to review it. If you are told that you cannot view the policy, please notify a member of the PICS staff immediately.
If you believe you are being harassed in your workplace, you should follow the guidelines for reporting harassment according to your organization’s harassment policies. Please also notify a member of the PICS staff so that we are aware of your situation. We are here to support you!
There are many new scenarios you will likely encounter during your internship, whether this is your first professional work experience or just a different experience. Below are several common experiences, compiled by real examples from PICS students, and some suggestions for handling them.
Some of the scenarios provided below represent specific examples you may not encounter over the course of a remote internship (e.g., Example H: Expectations about Work Attire), but we’ve included them here both to help engage your critical thinking skills about the general steps you should take when expectations are unclear, as well as to help you prepare for more traditional work environments in your future career.
We encourage you to discuss any challenges or questions you encounter about these scenarios or any others that come up with your alumni partner, the PICS office, or the Center for Career Development. We’re all here to help!
Example A: Asking for More Work
Example B: Participating in Meetings
Example C: Email Etiquette
Example D: Asking for Help
Example E: Workplace Culture
Example F: Working with Different Departments
Example G: Conflicts between Departments
Example H: Expectations about Work Attire
II. Navigating Your Alumni Partner Relationship
Example A: Introduction to Your Alumni Partner
Example B: Alumni Partners as Resources for Problem-Solving
Example C: When Your Interests Don’t Match Your Alunni Partner’s
You have finished all of your assigned work. Although you have already asked your supervisor for more work, you realize that they are too busy to assign you a new task. You want to keep contributing to the organization, but you don’t have specific guidelines to direct you. How do you use your time wisely?
How to approach this:
First, consult the plan you made with your supervisor at the beginning of the summer. Are there tasks from that list you can begin? If so, congratulations on planning ahead!
If none of those tasks are viable, you have an opportunity to take initiative. Present your supervisor with some options for their approval. Some ideas include:
Suggest to your supervisor that you would appreciate getting more experience in other departments, and ask if you can help with projects in those areas (as much as possible, suggest specific examples).
Is there a project that would normally be too big or difficult for an intern, but that you’d be excited about tackling? If so, make a “sales pitch” to your supervisor for why you’re up to the task and what you could contribute.
Make sure to seek approval before taking on work that was not assigned to you. Your intention may be to help, but sometimes forging ahead without approval can create more work for your supervisor.
If you have exhausted these options and lack of work is becoming a regular issue, you should contact the PICS Program Director who will intervene to make sure your experience is appropriate and matches the information provided by the organization.
Your organization holds a weekly staff meeting in which each department updates the others about its recent work. During your first meeting, you notice that everyone arrives with a paper and pen, and that many stay engaged by asking questions and expressing their opinions about topics that are proposed. You’re not sure how much to speak up or how to show you’re prepared for the meeting.
How to approach this:
Meetings are often important indicators of office culture; how you present yourself can be much more important than what you say. Ask your manager ahead of time what the meeting is about and read over any materials you have that might pertain to the meeting. Always be prepared to give updates on what you are currently working on. Even if the meeting is not related to your work, other people in the office may ask you how you are doing.
- Take notes
- Look engaged and use positive body language (sitting up straight, unfurrowed brows).
- Always have a question ready. This question could be about the meeting topics, or how a project is going in another department, just something to show that you are engaged and interested. Gather your thoughts and ask when there is time for discussion, rather than firing questions off immediately as they come.
- As appropriate, contribute your observations to the discussion to show that you’re invested in the organization’s goals.
- At the same time, as an intern, remember that meetings are a good time to learn from the staff. Balance offering your feedback with observing and listening to the discussion, and don’t take it personally if your ideas aren’t a fit for the organization’s needs.
You plan on contacting your supervisor/organization/alumni partner for the first time, but you are unsure of how formal you should be in your email.
How to handle this:
Always err on the side of formality and politeness, especially during your initial interactions. As you develop a relationship with this contact, you can get a sense of their expectations based on their own emails and style of communication. You are not only a representative of PICS but also of the University, so be aware of the appearance you present with your communication etiquette. If you are unsure of how to address your contact, make an effort to learn the proper way to address your recipient (Mr., Ms., Dr., Professor, etc.). If this information isn’t clear, a non-specific “Hello,” will do. Starting your email with an introductory line is polite and helpful. Remind them of who you are and your role this summer before getting to the main point of your message.
Your supervisor asks you to put together a report about a new initiative your organization is embarking on. You have many questions about the project, such as who the report is for, what the preferred formatting is, and what type of information to include. Your supervisor seems very busy and you don’t want to appear as though you expect her to hold your hand throughout the entire project.
How to handle this:
Ask your supervisor if there is a sample from a similar project you could review and use as a model If there is no similar past project, create an outline and ask your supervisor to review it so you know you’re on the right track. Ask your supervisor specific, thoughtful questions about the goal of and deadlines for the report so you can ensure you give your supervisor what they want.
Another option is to reach out to other coworkers or previous interns, as they might have done similar work before and can give you advice. This will also give you an opportunity to foster a relationship with someone new.
You are figuring out how to spend your lunchtime at your workplace. You notice that most people in the office eat at their desks. Your supervisor says that you are free to take an hour-long lunch. You notice that some of your fellow interns sit together to eat, sometimes watching Netflix in a conference room or going out to eat outside the office for the full hour.
How to handle this:
There isn’t one right approach to how you should spend your lunch time. You can use this time to bond with your fellow interns. If you are in a new city, you may spend the full hour exploring the neighborhood. You can ask some employees if they are not too busy to schedule a lunch with you. Keep in mind that employee expectations and intern expectations will not be the same, so they may not be able to accept your offer. If it’s a busy week, you may find yourself partaking in a “working lunch” yourself. You shouldn’t take a working lunch every day or just to impress your supervisor. Be aware of your own mental and physical health needs as you plan working lunches.
Your internship may allow you to collaborate with multiple departments over the course of the summer. This helps you understand the organization’s structure, but also means that you report to different people with some frequency. Your supervisor may change from week to week, and it may be difficult to know to whom you are accountable.
How to handle this:
Refer to the plan you made at the beginning of the summer. Are supervision expectations clear, or do you need to clarify now that you have had more experience? Ask your initial supervisor if you have questions. Many PICS internships involve an overarching project that you work on over the course of the summer, so the supervisor for that project will be a good person to keep in touch with as you move around.
You may sometimes be exposed to conflicts that departments or people within different departments have with each other. For example, perhaps the education department is unhappy with the funding allocation from the finance department. Maybe the development office is unhappy with new regulations set by human resources, or the heads of guest services and event planning are at odds with one another over a particular event or service. In your role, you might be required to interact with multiple departments with competing priorities.
How to handle this:
Departments in organizations often have simple disagreements or differences in their visions. It can be a good learning opportunity to try to understand each position and gain a better understanding of the issues and concerns that professionals face in their jobs. If you are uncomfortable, talk to your supervisor. You might also try to reach out to someone who is separate from the conflict and get their advice. Do not insert yourself into the disagreement; avoid taking sides and engaging in gossip. You will likely be in an environment in which your opinion is valued, and you may take that opportunity to try to redirect discussions in a positive way.
In your internship you may be moving around from department to department, doing a variety of work, from office work to working with kids to gardening. Maybe you are helping to run a summer camp in the afternoon but going to a formal organization function in the evening. How do you decide what attire is appropriate?
How to handle this: In preparation for your internship, you should touch base with your direct supervisor about appropriate dress before you start, and follow the guidelines in the PICS Handbook. If you are confused about appropriate attire after you start, the best thing to do in this situation is simply ask. If you are in a situation in which what counts as appropriate attire changes from day to day or week to week, keep in touch with your supervisors and always feel free to ask. If you have multiple commitments in one day with different dress codes, plan to bring a change of clothes.
You received an email from PICS connecting you to your alumni partner, however they haven’t contacted you since the initial email or you never received any contact from the partner at all. Your internship is approaching, and you are wondering how to reach out.
How to handle it:
When being introduced to someone who is offering to help you professionally, it’s polite to promptly take initiative to start the conversation. Within 2 business days of your email introduction, reach out to your alumni partner to introduce yourself, sharing:
- Your class year and major
- The dates of your internship and a sentence or two about why you’re excited for this opportunity
- How excited you are to connect with them and suggesting a few dates for a virtual meeting
Keep your alumni partner updated throughout the summer; perhaps sending them an update after your first week of your internship, and at least once a month over the summer.
If they do not respond to your outreach, email them again after the first week of your internship, giving them updates on how your first week went and mentioning that whenever they are free, you would love to meet with them. Should you continue to receive no response, don’t assume they are uninterested! Perhaps the email address was incorrect. Contact the PICS staff so that they can help facilitate the introduction. A lot of time is spent finding the alumni interested in volunteering for this position and it is often a small communication problem that can easily be fixed. Don’t miss this great opportunity!
You’ve encountered an issue in your workplace, such as not having enough work, a conflict in the workplace or adjusting to the office culture. You want the advice of a professional in the workforce, but you do not want to approach anyone at your organization.
How to handle this:
Your alumni partner has experience in the workforce and has probably experienced a similar situation. They may also know the type of office culture you are experiencing and can offer great advice. This is one of the reasons we connect you with an alumni partner and we encourage you to take advantage of this Princeton support relationship.
Your alumni partner is a nice person, but maybe you’re a music major and your alumni partner’s expertise is in business. You don’t want to seem rude to your partner, but you feel that your time would be better spent with someone who shares your career passion.
Alumni are paired with students based on the idea of building a Princeton connection, not necessarily based upon career interests. Often, your partner will have a deep connection to the organization supporting your internship, but may not work in that field. It’s ok if your partner has different interests and experience; sometimes, this is much better than learning from someone who is like-minded!
First, make sure you are taking the time to get to know your partner. Their perspectives on your interests may be more valuable than you realize; in the above example, your partner from the business world may have unique insights about how to market yourself as a musician. After you’ve spent some time with your partner, use LinkedIn and TigerNet to see if there is someone in your partner’s network or class to whom they would be willing to introduce you. Be careful to frame this request as building your network and not as though your alumni partner has failed to provide you the guidance you want.
The Princeton alumni network is one of the most powerful and supportive in the world. Even if you don’t feel that your assigned alumni partner is a perfect match for you, look at the relationship as a gateway into a larger community that can support you over the course of your career.
- Making the Most of Your Virtual Internship, a resource provided by the Center for Career Development
- The Pace Center’s Field Guide to Service, an excellent resource as you prepare, serve, and reflect on your summer experiences
- Partnership Principles, a Pace Center resource to help you enter your internship with a mindset of how to do service well
- The Pace Center's Service Leadership Course (if you're crunched for time, start with the Professional Development section).
US Citizens or Resident Individuals
You have received a payment that is taxable as a non-qualified scholarship/fellowship and should be reported as income on your personal tax return, to the extent the payment was not used to pay tuition at a qualified educational institution or for books, fees, or equipment required for a class at a qualified educational institution. It is the responsibility of the student to maintain documents supporting such use of the funds.
You will not receive any further statement from the University or PICS regarding the taxation of your stipend. Please note that any unused returned portion of the payment is not taxable.
According to IRS Publication 970 (available at Publication 970 (2020), Tax Benefits for Education | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov)) non-qualified scholarships and fellowships should be included on Line 1 of Form 1040. Please refer to the Publication or your tax adviser for additional information.
You have received a payment that may be taxable as a non-qualified scholarship. A non-qualified scholarship is a payment used to further a student’s education and studies, which is not required for tuition, books, supplies or equipment necessary for the course of instruction at an eligible educational institution.
U.S. tax law requires the University to withhold income tax on payments received in the United States. All Non-Resident individuals at Princeton University are required to enter their visa information in the Glacier system within 10 days of arriving on campus. The signed Glacier forms must be provided to Global Financial Services (GFS) electronically, at least one month prior to the date of payment so that the correct tax withholding can be applied; failure to do so may result in the maximum rate of tax withholding. Typically, the tax rate for non-qualified scholarship is 14%.
Glacier will determine your tax status. Please ensure that your Glacier account is up to date and submit the necessary forms (if applicable) generated by Glacier and send to the Global Financial Services Team (GFS) electronically.
Any payments and tax withholdings you receive in the current calendar year are reportable on Form 1042-S, which you will receive by March 15th in the next calendar year remove. You will use the tax form received to complete your Non-Resident tax return, Form 1040NR, which is available through GLACIER Tax Prep or on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website (About Form 1040-NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov)
For questions related to your tax forms, tax treaties and Glacier account, please contact Global Financial Services at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that Princeton University and PICS does not advise individuals on how to file their return. For tax advice and assistance with preparation of your tax return, please contact a tax advisor. A list of tax advisors can be found on our website. Taxes for Foreign Students, Faculty, Staff, and Guests | Finance and Treasury (princeton.edu)
For additional resources, please refer to:
IRS Publication 901 : About Publication 901, U.S. Tax Treaties | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov)