The COVID-19 pandemic not only disrupted the spring semester, causing Princeton and most other universities to send students home and shift to remote teaching, but it also cost many students their summer internships. Work-at-home policies and widespread uncertainty forced the cancellation of internships that students had secured before the outbreak, leaving many of them scrambling for new opportunities for summer enrichment and experience.
Alumni have always played a critical role in assisting Princeton undergraduate and graduate students in their career exploration, and that relationship has taken on increased importance during the COVID-19 shutdown.
“You can’t have nothing to do over the summer. It’s just not the Princeton way,” said Shikha Uberoi Bajpai ’13, who made 30 summer positions available at her company after she received a wave of applicants for a single internship. “It’s going to hurt, and much more than not having something on your resume. Your mind goes numb and that’s a very painful experience for such intellectual students.”
Frank Sowinski ’78, who’s been running a career mentorship program for the Princeton men’s and women’s basketball teams since 2008, recently emailed 100 of the program’s volunteers to try and organize virtual internships or projects for current student-athletes. Sowinski is also arranging webcasts with alums dedicated to the various industries they work in, along with Zoom sessions or phone calls with current Tigers.
Alumni who are in a position to mentor or provide an internship opportunity are encouraged to get involved, and the University has many resources available that can help them connect with interested students.
The Center for Career Development
The Center for Career Development is refocusing its efforts to help students pursue ways they can make the most of their summer in light of the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Alumni volunteers are essential, and there are a variety of ways they can provide students with opportunities to learn and grow professionally, even during this complicated period. Some of those ways include:
- Creating or sharing virtual summer internship/job opportunities at your organization
- Developing a remote project that students could complete for your organization over the summer
- Connecting with students virtually for one-on-one or small group conversations on topics ranging from informational interviews, industry chats, mock interviews, networking and job search discussions and more
To offer assistance in one of these ways, or to suggest other career exploration ideas, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Service Focus and Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS)
The Service Focus program at the Pace Center for Civic Engagement is supporting rising sophomores without full-time internships with funding and guidance for summer service projects that address current societal needs. This is an opportunity for students to learn more about an area they are passionate about while making a meaningful contribution.
Some students may initiate their own projects, but Service Focus is encouraging students to match with existing opportunities, as this provides important mentorship and can help to ensure alignment with community needs. If you have, or know of, an opportunity for an unpaid part-time internship or project that might be suitable, please fill out this form.
If there are Tigers who would like to connect via mentorship or coffee chats with students, Princeton Internships in Civic Service would love to facilitate these connections. Anyone who is interested in these mentorship opportunities is welcome to fill out this form to tell us more about their interests and availability. Contact Caroline Savage (email@example.com), PICS Program Director, with questions.
Graduate alumni can assist current graduate students by joining GradFUTURES, a campus-wide professional development initiative to empower students with professional competencies and connections. Alumni are encouraged to serve as role models, connectors, mentors and advocates in a variety of ways:
- Join the GradFUTURES LinkedIn group to connect with over 200 graduate alumni and current graduate students.
- Serve as a virtual panelist or facilitator at one of our professional development programs
- Volunteer to be interviewed for an alumni career video series
- Virtually host graduate students at your organization for an Industry Exploration Day or shadowing
- Arrange an immersive experience at your organization such as a short-term project, fellowship or summer internship for current students
- Volunteer to mentor graduate students
- Join a “Research on the Road” virtual event to learn more about a graduate student’s research project
- Connect graduate students with others in your professional network
Princeton Entrepreneurship Council (PEC)
OfficeHours is PEC’s advisory platform, connecting alumni mentors with students and early career alumni who seek guidance on specific challenges they are facing in their entrepreneurial pursuits. The program arranges for students to schedule 1:1 time with alumni who are matched based on skillset and/or industry experience. Alumni who are interested in becoming a mentor can sign up here.
The PEC also offers a listing of free resources for entrepreneurs in this trying economic climate for startups.
The student-run Entrepreneurship Club has put together a resume book and is actively looking to connect open internships and full-time positions with students who have lost their positions due to COVID-19.