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 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, some internships may require Optional Practical Training (OPT).  We encourage you to pursue internships that only require Curricular Practical Training (CPT). 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 strongly encourage all international students interested in PICS to consult with the Davis International Center with questions about the intersection between PICS and your student visa. 

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.
  • Attend the PICS Spring Orientation. 
  • Complete a Summer Project, including:
    • An Internship Summary in the form of a PowerPoint presentation or video 
    • Three photos of your summer, to be entered into the PICS photo contest for a prize
    • An Internship Evaluation
  • Attend the PICS Fall Reception.
  • Send thank you notes to your host organization, alumni mentors, and internship sponsors.

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 two PICS internships, and may also be applying to other internship programs. Decisions about first choice candidates for PICS internships will be available in mid February (second choice candidates may be notified later), which may be before you are notified about other internship opportunities. You will only have three business 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 resume. 
    • Your resume can be reused for multiple internships, but should be up to date and reflect the qualifications listed in the internship job description. Use the Career Center Resume Guide and resources if you need additional support.
  • Your professional references. 
    • The PICS application asks for two professional references. Common references include professors, lecturers, on-campus employers, coaches, former employers, or high school teachers/advisors. Ideally, at least one reference can be a Princeton University faculty or staff member, including preceptors and coaches. First year students, however, may not have yet developed a relationship with their professors. It is perfectly fine, therefore, to submit references from those who know you well (teacher/advisor/employer, etc.) from high school. Your references cannot be peers or family members. It's a good idea to reach out to your two references well in advance of applying to your internship, letting them know you'd like them to serve as a reference and asking their permission to use their contact information. References are not required to write a letter for you. Their information is passed on to the PICS organization along with your other application materials. The PICS organization then decides whether or not they'd like to reach out to your reference. 
  • Your understanding of the following PICS policies and information:
    • Critical Dates
    • Eligibility
    • PICS Program Requirements
    • Payment 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 to 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.

Internship Stipends and Payment

All PICS interns receive a stipend award to help support their civic service internship. For Summer 2023, the stipend rate will be $600/week. 

Students who receive a Princeton-sponsored internship for their summer should understand that these awards or grants are meant to support an intern’s experiential learning. These awards are intended to defray the cost of living for the duration of the internship, which may include cost of accommodations, meals, transportation to and from your internship. Additionally, awards are considered non-qualified scholarships OR student funding and may be taxable on your personal tax return. 

If you have questions about applicable expenses or your eligibility to apply for additional funding, please contact Emily Sharples or Rose Holton; you may also visit the Office of Finance and Treasury website to learn more about taxable awards.

Exact method of payment is not determined until March and will be provided to you after your internship offer. Please be aware of the two 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

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.

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.