Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS) is a program that connects students with summer internship opportunities at nonprofit and government organizations in a wide variety of fields, ranging anywhere from healthcare to education. PICS is a funded opportunity, with students receiving a lump-sum stipend before the start of the summer. This stipend can be used towards any costs associated with your internship, including housing, food, and transportation. In addition to funding, PICS provides students with a network of resources and alumni to better support them during their internships and beyond. Through PICS, I spent this summer working as a Communications and Development intern at the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF) in Trenton, New Jersey.
The way that PICS works is relatively straightforward. At the end of the fall semester, a list of PICS community partners is released. This means you have about a month to choose up to two organizations to apply to, as well as prepare your application materials, all before the January deadline to submit your application. Interviews are usually held throughout the month of January, and by early to mid-February, you are notified about whether you have been selected for an internship.
When I was first looking into PICS, LALDEF stood out to me as it aligned with my own interests and personal values. LALDEF works to empower immigrants living in Mercer County, helping them navigate the systems and resources necessary for their own self-sufficiency in the United States. This includes access to legal services, citizenship test preparation, ESL classes, and youth mentoring programs. I am very interested in immigration work, and am considering the possibility of at some point working in the nonprofit sphere, so LALDEF made complete sense for me. Additionally, I loved that it was located near campus, as integrating myself more into the community surrounding campus is something I value greatly.
During my nine-week internship, I stayed on campus and took the train every day to Trenton. I worked Monday through Friday, eight hours a day, which meant that every morning, I made the trek from the train station to the office and up the stairs to the third floor, where our office space was located.
Most days after work, I would spend my time staying active, putting together puzzles, reading, and unwinding from the day. The weekends were a great opportunity for me to get off campus, even going into NYC twice over the summer.
The internship itself entailed a wide range of tasks and projects. As an intern working in the Communications and Development department, I was able to interact with the whole LALDEF team. Some of my major projects were designing the 2023 Impact Report and putting together the Fall 2023 Newsletter. The creation of the newsletter involved designing the layout itself, as well as contacting the different program heads to fill the newsletter with content and updates from each program. I was also involved in a variety of different supporting tasks within my department, but within other departments as well. I learned the importance and process of grant-writing, and conducted interviews with past and present clients to assemble testimonials for promotional purposes. One of the most impactful moments of the summer was sitting in on a legal intake interview, where I helped translate a client’s migration story.
All in all, I feel that I gained valuable insight into nonprofit work thanks to my PICS internship. I also learned what I like about different work experiences and environments, and what I would like to do differently in a future internship or job. Princeton-funded opportunities for internships (and research, if that’s more your thing) feel limitless at times. There is truly something for everyone, and the process will feel so much less overwhelming when it's upon you.