Internships and summer jobs are great ways to try out fields of interest and develop skills that will help with your future job search or graduate school plans.
They can be anything career-related that is supervised by full-time professionals in that field, such as conducting research, working at a non-profit, managing office responsibilities, assisting with projects, and using technical skills to support an organization.
Depending on your career goals, your internship experiences can vary widely; there is no one “right” internship or number of internships.
1. Start looking early. In the fall you may want to start thinking about possible options for the summer and begin preparing your resume and thinking about your search. The heavy internship application months are January-February. Some competitive summer internships (primarily for juniors) have deadlines in the fall, such as those with the U.S. Department of State, CIA, Washington Post, and Time. Plan ahead with our internship planner full of ideas for what you can do month by month.
2. Sign up for CareerNews.
you will receive a weekly list of career-related events and a sampling of the internship opportunities posted with us the previous week.
3. Prepare your material.
Make sure you have an updated resume
and know how to write a good cover letter
. You can have a “master resume” that lists all the things you might want to include in a resume and then create a couple 1-page versions for each type of position you are applying for. For each position, write a cover letter that clearly states your objective, skills, and motivation for pursuing this particular position. You will also want to develop and practice interviewing skills
4. Search for posted internships.
Begin with the systems tailored to Princeton students: TigerTracks
is exclusive to Princeton and is also used for on-campus recruiting
, while UCAN
is an internship system housing postings from 20 selective colleges from coast-to-coast. Current students are automatically given TigerTracks accounts; for UCAN, please register for a new account. Refer to the Tip Sheet
to help you search these systems.
5. Talk directly with employers.
Employers come on campus several times during the year for Career Fairs
and individual information sessions listed on the TigerTracks
calendar to talk about jobs and internships. You can also research employers
and reach out directly to any organizations that are of interest. Use tools like CareerSearch
, which is a directory listing over 4 million employers in a variety of industries and geographic regions.
6. Talk to people you know.
Talk to others about your interests to see if they know anyone who can help, including extended family, parents of friends, friends of parents, past teachers, neighbors, coaches, professors, and alumni. Networking
is the #1 way to find opportunities. When you talk with others, mention 2 or 3 things that you might be interested in doing. This approach is better than saying you are looking for “anything.”
7. Connect with alumni.
Use the Alumni Careers Network (ACN)
to find alumni who have volunteered to talk with students about their careers and give advice on finding internships. They are eager to help! When you contact alumni, do not ask them to find you an internship and do not send a resume unless they ask for one. Instead, ask the alumni about their careers, their organization, important resources in their field, and who else you might be able to speak with.
8. Consider internship programs specifically for Princeton students.
Each Princeton-specific program
is managed separately, so be sure to check with each office regarding deadlines.
9. Follow up with employers.
If possible call or send an email about 10-14 days after you send in your material to ask about their interviewing timeline as well as to reiterate your interest in the position If possible. The goal is to be pleasant yet persistent. If they say “no phone calls”, don’t call. Once you have interviewed for a position, send a thank-you note
or email within 24-48 hours after the interview (for industries with a quick turnaround, you will want to send the email that same day).