Alumni Mentors are one of the most important aspects of the Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS) program. Chosen from Princeton alumni and alumni spouses, a mentor acts as a friendly contact point and source of information for the Princeton student intern, and as liaison, if needed, to the sponsor organization. The mentor’s presence and availability enhance the summer’s experience for the intern.
Why be a PICS Alumni Mentor?
- Provide insight to a young Tiger entering the professional world.
- Help shape the next generation of leaders and thinkers.
- Become familiar with PICS and our wonderful community partner organizations.
Alumni Mentor Responsibilities:
- Initiate contact with the intern; a minimum of 3 check-ins throughout the summer is expected.
- Be friendly and available over the summer.
- Act as liaison, if necessary, to the sponsor organization of the internship.
- Assist the administrators of the PICS program during the internship.
- Listen empathetically.
- Bring a positive attitude to interactions.
- Express interest in students’ aspirations and concerns.
- Reliably serve as a partner in learning.
Mentors Do Not:
- Need to be an expert in the field of the internship.
- Become involved in the intern’s job.
- Act as a parent or supervisor.
- Press the intern for more contact than is comfortable for the intern.
Guide to Your Summer Mentorship Experience
Reach out as soon as possible after you receive notification of your intern.
- Send an introductory email and offer to meet however you and the intern are most comfortable. Include your name, Princeton affiliation, preferred contact information, and times you are available to meet.
- Find out when your student will start their internship.
- Let your intern know if there are any dates you plan to be unavailable (e.g., a vacation).
At your first meeting
- Ask your intern about their goals for the summer. Each intern should have completed a learning plan and we encourage you to reference that. Share any goals you have for the relationship as well.
- Ask if your intern has any specific questions for you as you begin to get to know each other.
- If there is an active Princeton Club in your area, let your intern know how to access its summer programs.
Optionally, and with the intern’s permission, we encourage you to contact the intern’s supervisor at the sponsor organization
- Introduce yourself to the intern’s supervisor as the PICS Alumni Mentor.
- Explain your role as a friendly presence for the intern during the summer.
- Learn more about the organization and the coming internship.
During the internship
- Maintain contact with your intern
- Reach out occasionally to ask how the summer is going and offer to meet virtually or in person.
- Remember that some interns are happily independent. Others appreciate more frequent contact.
- Help your intern feel comfortable discussing their work environment experiences.
At the end of the internship
Make closing contact with your intern
- Offer to connect with them to reflect on their summer experience and next steps. Be aware that your intern may be very busy closing out their internship at this time.
- Complete a confidential feedback form PICS will provide to help us maintain the quality of the PICS program.
How can you help if your intern is encountering challenges?
Serving as an Alumni Mentor is a rewarding experience because you have the opportunity to work with a Princeton student preparing to enter the workforce. Because students are still developing their professional skills, sometimes they need help navigating common workplace issues, and Alumni Mentors can help when they're going through this. The best things you can do to support an intern encountering challenges are:
- Be sure your intern knows that you are available and ready to assist them.
- Support the intern’s own efforts to solve the problem.
- Serve as a sounding board as they think through possible solutions.
- Share your experience with similar challenges in the past.
Keep the PICS staff informed of any serious problems. Specifically, contact us if any of the following situations arise:
- Non-payment of stipends
- Dangerous or discriminatory working conditions
- Any criminal situation
- Serious personal issues (e.g., loss of housing or serious illness)
- Any other situation that may impact a student’s health and safety
- Any other situation that may impact the relationship between PICS and the host organization
PICS staff are so thrilled that you are willing to volunteer your time and expertise to support PICS students, especially during a time when many students need guidance more than ever. Please stay in touch to let us know how we can support you to have an excellent experience with PICS.
Mentor sign-ups for 2023 are now closed; we look forward to sharing a sign-up link for 2024.