Princeton University Summer Journalism Program


PICS Organization Name
Princeton University Summer Journalism Program

Princeton, New Jersey 

Organization Description

The Princeton Summer Journalism Program (PSJP) was started in 2002 by four Princeton alumni to bridge pathways for students from impoverished backgrounds into elite, intellectual professions—including journalism and closely related fields. Every August, PSJP welcomes 35-40 rising high school seniors from low-income backgrounds to Princeton’s campus for an all-expenses-paid, 10-day institute on journalism and college admissions. The program culminates in the publication of the student newspaper. In 2020, our program ran entirely online over seven weeks. Our goal is to further equip the students for admission to and success at elite colleges—and to encourage them to subsequently pursue careers in journalism or other intellectual fields, thereby diversifying the professions that shape American democracy. Many SJP alumni and participants describe participating in the program as a life-changing experience.

PSJP is a unique partnership between Princeton University and an outside group of volunteers, professional journalists who are passionately committed to the cause of diversifying journalism as well as the worlds of politics, policy, arts, and literature. On campus, PICS interns play a central role in setting up the program in June and July, and then helping to lead it during the 10 days in August. During the virtual program, interns are even more crucial to coordinating and managing the various logistical components of the virtual experience.

Internship Description

We hire two students as program coordinators. The main component of this internship consists of coordinating and running logistics for the program. For the on-campus program, interns spend the first seven weeks working with the Program Associate to:

  • Arrange students’ flights and ground transportation
  • Devise, schedule, and respond to weekly reading assignments for the participating high school students
  • Coordinate all transportation, technology, equipment, and software needs for the program
  • Work with the directors and program associate to build the program’s schedule -- including inviting guest speakers, tracking outreach and communication, and fielding questions
  • Build and maintain relationships with vendors and community partners who lend their time and equipment for students' use
  • Arrange field trips (including visits to The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Bloomberg, or other news outlets as well as, arranging for the students to cover a preseason sports game from the press box of a sports stadium)
  • Devise and arrange feature and news writing assignments that students can report in the Princeton area (for instance, a press conference with a congressional candidate);
  • Track the submission of all pre-program documents from students (including waivers, releases, health forms and information, precollege documents, etc) and counselors
  • Make preliminary edits of students' college essays
  • Other duties as assigned.

During the 10-day program itself, having coordinated and planned most of the events, the interns serve as "schedule masters." They manage the program’s schedule and logistics, greet, introduce, and set-up guests, and get to witness the fruits of their labor in action! They also work with students on their reporting assignments, help to coordinate publication of the program’s newspaper, and generally serve as mentors for the students.

During the virtual program, we spread the activities over a few days each week from June-early August. Last year's schedule is on our website. Interns play a vital role in helping to modify the format and content to fit the Zoom environment and, importantly, in communicating the schedule and logistics to counselors, students, and guest speakers. They work with the Program Associate to lay the infrastructure that supports the program and work with counselors and staff to coordinate the editing process.

For interns, this internship is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of incredibly smart high school students. It is also a chance to participate in running and helping to build a small organization within Princeton University. Former interns have told us for years that the PSJP internship is an incredibly rewarding experience — and they continue to stay involved for years after their internships, as program directors and counselors.

Weekly Stipend # of Weeks Required Dates Start Time End Time Housing Provided? Public Transportation? Certificate Requirement? Can be Remote?
$450 10 6/7/21 - 8/13/21 9:00 am 4:30 pm Yes No No Yes

Internship Qualifications

All prospective interns must first and foremost possess a genuine passion for working with historically underrepresented students. Our students embody a multitude of intersectional, often marginalized identities. Interns should support our mission of access and approach their work and engaging with students with a positive, inclusive attitude and a genuine desire to work with and get to know them.

Equally important is that prospective interns be exceptionally organized. The internship positions involve an enormous logistical undertaking. As a result, our interns need to be excellent task masters who are also mindful of their limitations and can rely on each other to spread the workload.

They should:

  • Be incredibly detail-oriented and responsible
  • Be able to keep track of multiple people, processes, and documents in a way that allows them to easily recall the information, track updates, and report any changes
  • Take organized notes on needs, changes, and required tasks
  • Adapt to a rapidly changing environment
  • Work independently
  • Be self-reliant, adept problem-solvers
  • Take initiative
  • Be self-aware and able to check-in about their own personal needs and self-care
  • Ask for help
  • Be team-oriented and able to work well with others

It certainly helps if prospective interns have an appreciation for the value of teaching journalism to high school students, but the vast majority of our interns over the years have not themselves had a background in journalism. The bigger concern is the interns have a genuine interest in the mission of the work and a commitment to putting in the work to fulfill it.

Additional Info
For the first seven weeks of the internship, the interns work a consistent 35-hour-per-week schedule. Interns are not expected to work outside of those times, but may with prior approval for specific reasons. During the program (tentatively July 31-Aug 10), the interns will work much longer days with the rest of the staff.

Interns are required to be background checked and to complete a University-mandated training on working with minors prior to the start of the internship.

Former Interns
Ngan Chiem '23, Evelyn Doskoch '23, Lydia Choi '21, Sam Aftel '20, Talitha Wisner '20, Vayne Ong '20,  Kat Powell '20 

Evaluation Excerpt

My work environment was largely self-directed but supportive. I felt very involved in the professional and social life of the organization, in that I was generally responsible for upholding that element of the program. -- Evelyn Doskoch '23

My work environment was very genuinely supportive and warm. I became an integral member of the program in addition to running it. -- Ngan Chiem '23

Getting to meet and work with all 37 of the SJP students, who came from all over the country, was a very rewarding experience.
—Mim Ra  Aslaoui '18

SJP is a phenomenal program, and I can honestly say that working with this group of people was life-changing. It is a special kind of person that volunteers weeks of their time each year to help a group of extremely bright but low-income, first-generation students, and I was surrounded by these amazing people during the program.
—Caroline Limpan '19

My best work experience this summer was undoubtedly the ten days when we actually got to meet and get to know our students. They were truly what kept my co-coordinator Kat and I going; we had such an incredible, magical time as SJP students that we wanted to recreate the experience for this year's cohort. They are an inspirational, resilient, impossibly intelligent group of people from diverse backgrounds. My favorite question to ask people when I first meet them is, "Where are you from?" -- whatever this question means for the interviewee -- and I indeed received 39 fascinating answers.
—Vayne Ong '20

I think it empowers underserved groups to see the change that can happen in their communities and begin to facilitate that change. That's where I think SJP has the most impact--it takes low-income and first-gen students like myself and teaches us that our voices have an impact, and that they have a place in newsrooms and on elite college campuses.
—Kat Powell '20

I thoroughly connected with the service mission of the organization, that is, to expand college access to under-resourced communities. Likewise, the program has motivated me to perhaps pursue a career that makes a difference in the lives of young people educationally and otherwise. —Sam Aftel '20