Find an Internship with Purpose!

Shirley Wu, a former PICS intern at thePU Summer Journalism Program and New York Public Library , graduated from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 2015 and was a member of the PICS Student Advisory Council (SAC).

Shirley Wu, a former PICS intern at thePU Summer Journalism Program and New York Public Library , graduated from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 2015 and was a member of the PICS Student Advisory Council (SAC).

About PICS Internships 

PICS offers 8-10 week paid summer internships at nonprofit organizations across the United States and abroad. Paired with an alumni mentor, PICS students explore opportunities in research, energy policy, advocacy for marginalized communities, arts and cultural organizations, bridging educational achievement gap, service, environmental sustainability, and global health. Several PICS internships fulfill requirements of certificate programs. While PICS interns come from diverse backgrounds and a wide range of academic interests they are united in their desire to serve.

PICS internships promote a thoughtful civic service experience that allows students to also explore meaningful experiential learning opportunities. Many PICS interns have found their internships have influenced their career goals and learning paths. After graduating, former interns have worked for their nonprofits, started their own nonprofits, become alumni partners, and connected PICS with new internship opportunities.  

We are currently reviewing applications for 2021 PICS community partner organizations and will update this page on 10/31 when 2021 PICS applications open. For now, feel free to browse past PICS internship offerings to get a sense of what opportunities PICS has to offer you!

My PICS internships were one of the highlights of my time at Princeton. They allowed me to take the skills I had acquired through my studies and apply them in trying to help solve the problems that non-profits face. It was incredibly rewarding for me to see the real-world application and importance of the things I was studying and learning. 

—Shirley Wu, SPIA Class of 2015, Student Advisory Council member and two-time former PICS intern at Princeton Summer Journalism Program and the New York Public Library

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Critical Dates

Friday 10/30/20 Student application available online
Monday 12/14/20 Student application deadline at 5 PM EST
Monday - Saturday 1/11 - 1/16/21 Interview Week
Thursday 1/21/21 Final decisions from Community Partners due
Wednesday 1/27/21 Final decisions from students due
Wednesday 2/3 - 3/10/21 Second round of applications and decisions
Monday 4/26/21 Virtual Orientation available
Monday 5/10/21 Students who have finished exams may begin internships
Summer   Networking and professional development events
August   Summer projects and evaluations due
September   Fall Reception

 

Eligibility

PICS internships are open to first years, sophomores, and juniors who are enrolled in the Spring semester prior to the internship and the Fall semester following the internship. Students who are taking leave from the University the semester prior to or following an internship are not typically eligible for PICS internships. All students must be in good academic standing.

International students are eligible for most PICS internships; some federal agencies require U.S. citizenship, and this is noted on each relevant internship description. However, we strongly encourage you to apply for internships that do not require Optional Practical Training (OPT).  We encourage you to pursue internships that only require Curricular Practical Training (CPT), which are searchable here. Please note that CPT is only available to F-1 visa students when it is an integral part of an established curriculum and directly related to your field of study. Undergraduate students are only eligible for CPT if (1) you have declared your concentration and (2) your department offers the Internship Milestone Credit. We encourage you to consult with the Davis International Center with questions about the intersection between PICS and your student visa. 

Explore Internships

 View 2020 Internship Opportunities (2021 internship opportunities to be released on 10/30).

You may apply to up to 2 PICS internships. Detailed internship evaluations written by former interns are available at our office.  Make an appointment to view them with PICS Program Coordinator Rose Holton via WASE or email Rose at (rholton@princeton.edu).

Program Requirements

All accepted PICS interns are required to complete the following items. Failure to complete these requirements may result in termination of your internship.

PICS interns must:

  • Respond promptly to all correspondence from PICS and Community Partners.
  • Abide by the Center for Career Development Community Standards for your conduct throughout the internship application, interview, and offer process. Note in particular that reneging on an internship offer carries steep consequences.
  • Withdraw your application from all other summer opportunities both within and outside the University when accepting an internship. Your PICS internship must be your summer focus and must take precedence over all other summer activities.
  • Complete a Virtual Orientation. 
  • Complete a Summer Project, including:
    • An Internship Summary in the form of both 
      • A one-page document and 
      • A PowerPoint presentation or video 
    • 3 Photos of your summer, which will be entered into the PICS Photo Contest for a monetary prize
    • An Internship Evaluation
  • Attend the PICS Fall Reception.
  • Send thank you notes to your host organization, alumni mentors, and internship sponsors.

Internship Stipends and Payment

All PICS interns receive payment to help support their civic service internship. Each internship description specifies the payment amount for internships. The rate for most PICS internships is $450/week. To compensate for increased costs of living in expensive areas, internships in certain regions (including Boston, California, Chicago, Hawaii, New York City, and Washington D.C.) are paid $500 per week. In the event that internships take place virtually in 2021, all internships will be paid at $450/week. 

Stipends are meant to help support interns’ experiential learning opportunities and might not cover the full cost of living in a large urban city. Interns may not seek duplicate funding from other sources, but may seek funding to offset costs such as airfare through other University funding. All PICS awards are considered non-qualified student funding and may be taxable on your personal tax return. For more information, visit the Office of Finance and Treasury website

While stipend amounts are posted on each internship description, method of payment is not determined until March and will be provided to you after your internship offer. Please be aware of the different possibilities for payment methods (listed below) and note that not all stipends are paid in advance. If you will need to make a housing deposit or purchase a flight prior to receiving pay, short term loans may be available through the Office of Financial Aid

  1. Direct deposit from Princeton University:  Most PICS internships are paid this way. This is a lump sum payment in the total amount of your internship stipend prior to the start of your internship, and no taxes will be withheld.  

  2. University Time Collection:  Students who qualify for Federal Work-Study (FWS) will be paid through the University’s time collection on a bi-weekly basis.  Taxes are withheld. 

Payment from Internship Site: In a few cases, organizations may need to pay PICS interns through their own organizational payroll for liability reasons. These organizations pay their interns as employees, usually on a bi-weekly schedule, and withhold payroll taxes.   

Pre-Application Checklist

Before you apply to your PICS internship, make sure you have considered the following:

  • Housing and transportation logistics. If you were offered a PICS internship, where would you live over the summer, and how would you get to and from your internship site? Make sure you are choosing an internship that is not only the best fit for your interests, but where you can also find housing and transportation in your budget. The PICS stipend is designed to cover essential living expenses, but you will need to carefully think through housing and transportation logistics to ensure best fit for your needs.
  • Your top choice of internship for the summer. You can apply for up to 2 PICS internships, and may also be applying to other internship programs. Decisions about PICS internships will be available on 1/22, which may be before you are notified about other internship opportunities. You will only have 5 days to accept or decline your offer, so it’s helpful to be clear before you apply about which of your summer options is your preference.
  • Your cover letter.  Your cover letter should be unique to each internship; this takes more time than writing one generic cover letter, but showing an organization that you understand their mission and needs is more likely to result in an offer. Use the Center for Career Development Cover Letter Guide and resources if you need additional support. Make sure your cover letter answers the following questions:
    • Why do you want to spend the summer in a public service organization?
    • Why do you want to work in this particular area and with this organization? Explain your understanding of the issues that this organization addresses?
    • How have your academic studies, work, and personal experiences prepared you to intern for this organization?
  • Your understanding of the following PICS policies and information:
  • Specific information and requirements for your internship. Each internship may have specific pre-hiring requirements; make sure you’ve reviewed the internship descriptions thoroughly for these, and that you are aware of any additional application materials, trainings, or other preparation required.

Other things you want to do this summer. Do you want to spend time with your family? Attend a particular event? Do you have research requirements for your academic work? Keep in mind that PICS internship dates are a consecutive 8 or 10 weeks and at the organization’s discretion, and are often not negotiable. Consider everything you need and want to accomplish this summer carefully. Talk with family, friends, and academic advisors. Accepting a PICS internship may mean saying no to other opportunities.

Apply Now

PICS is offering nearly 200 internships for Summer 2021. At this time, all internships are scheduled to be on-site, however this plan is subject to change to a remote model should health concerns continue to pose any risk by next Spring.

Eligible students may apply to up to 2 PICS internships. Internship offers are made by the PICS staff on a rolling basis.  We encourage students to carefully consider their choices of internship placement as well as location, as students will have 3 days to respond to an offer. After selecting up to two internships of interest, proceed to the online application

PICS Program Coordinator, Rose Holton, is available to discuss these opportunities in advance of applying. Feel free to reach out for a time to chat via WASE or email Rose directly at rholton@princeton.edu

The application deadline for Summer 2021 is 5:00PM, Monday, December 7, 2020.

Application requirements:

  1. An online application
  2. A one-page resume that includes a clear outline of your education, work history, public service experience (on and off campus), and relevant skills. See the Center for Career Development Resume Guide for helpful hints.
  3. A cover letter for each internship, maximum of 500 words. See the Center for Career Development Cover Letter Guide for helpful hints. 
  4. Any supplemental materials listed in the job description for the internship to which you are applying

After you submit your application, please direct all questions to PICS staff. Do not follow up with the organization. PICS staff will be happy to confirm that your application was received and to keep you informed of your status.

After Your Application

Congratulations! You’ve submitted your application for a PICS internship. While you wait to hear about your status, here are some steps you can take to prepare for the next stages in the process.

Interviews and Offers

PICS organizes interviews virtually from Monday 1/11 - Saturday 1/16. Some organizations may choose to schedule an interview with you before or after this week. All organizations are responsible for providing PICS with a decision of their preferred candidates by Thursday 1/21. PICS will extend offers to all candidates by Friday 1/22, and students will have until Wednesday 1/27 to accept or decline offers. If you receive your internship offer before 1/22, or after 1/22 as a second choice candidate, you will have 5 days from the date of your offer to accept or decline. 

Please note that some internship organizations have specific pre-hire requirements listed in the internship description. If these requirements are not met, the internship offer may be rescinded by the internship organization.

Questions or concerns? Feel free to reach out to PICS Program Coordinator Rose Holton (rholton@princeton.edu) for support!

Housing

After applying, explore housing options for the city in which your internship is located. The PDF iconIntern Housing Guide, created by students, for students, contains helpful information for all interns, including:

  • Advice on how to best use the various methods and channels to locate and secure housing.
  • Helpful statistics from housing choices of previous PICS intern cohorts, like the percentage of interns who had roommates, who paid a security deposit, and what their most important factors for housing were, etc.
  • Tips on how to maximize your experience living in a new city.
  • City-specific insights and testimonials on transportation, neighborhood selection of where previous interns have lived, and their bucket lists (at this time, this tailored information is limited to the DC, Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Chicago, and LA metro areas. In future years, this living document will expand to include all PICS cities).

Before Your Internship Starts

In preparation for your PICS internship, read the PICS Handbook and PICS Case Studies to learn more about the culture of professional workplaces, as well as common internship mistakes and how to avoid them.

Engaging in Service After PICS

Many PICS interns find that their PICS internship is just the beginning of a journey in professional service experiences. Some options for continuing your service journey are below. 

Student Advisory Council (SAC)

One excellent opportunity to continue your service after your PICS internship ends is by joining the Student Advisory Council (SAC). SAC members support PICS’ growth and development, continuing to encourage generations of Princetonians to serve in communities across the country and worldwide.  PICS interns who serve on SAC are most qualified to make this happen, building on the legacy and ongoing work of the Princeton alumni who founded PICS.  

For more information about SAC roles, responsibilities, and benefits, read our SAC Guide. With questions or to become a SAC member, contact PICS Program Coordinator Rose Holton (rholton@princeton.edu). 

Joining the SAC is one of the most meaningful ways to give back to the PICS program and pay it forward. My internship experiences truly impacted the way I view service and impact. Continuing your involvement with PICS through the SAC helps ensure that future Princeton students benefit from the opportunities we were granted and provides a platform to grow the program's impact through various leadership and engagement opportunities.

—Carlos Sotelo '17

Pace Center Programs

The Pace Center offers a wide variety of service opportunities ranging from one-time service to sustained volunteering, and everything in between. 

Service Focus

Rising sophomores can apply to Service Focus, a transformative learning experience that connects academic study with real-world impact via mentorship, small group discussions, and engaged scholarship. PICS internships count toward the Service Focus internship requirement.

PrOCES Courses

Programs for Community-Engaged Scholarship (ProCES) offers courses that help you connect your service experience to your academic path. You can also create your own course.