Propose your own community-engaged research internship

ProCES offers enrolled students the opportunity to propose your own summer internship with a non-profit organization, community group, or government agency.  Internships supported by ProCES allow you to apply your academic skills to the information needs of a host organization and to understand the crucial role of knowledge and research in creating social change.  Your internship work should be of an academic nature and provide a direct benefit to your host organization.  You will also be able to learn from the expertise of community leaders and represent Princeton University in the broader community.  During your internship you may have the opportunity to refine a research question for an organization, conduct a literature review on a question of interest to your organization, collect or analyze new data, and/or practice research strategies relevant to your junior paper or senior thesis. Potential projects could also include some of the following activities: engaging in archival research, creating best practices reviews, designing assessments, developing curricula, generating research-based text and content for websites or grants, and interviewing or surveying clients.  For more examples, see the profiles of several of ProCES’s 2020 Derian summer research interns in this Princeton news story.

The Derian Student Internship fund is named in honor of Patricia "Patt" Derian, a human rights activist and a U.S. State Department official in President Carter's administration.

Requirements for summer 2021 internship proposals

If your internship proposal is accepted, you will receive a stipend of $4500, in addition to other resources, for your fully remote or occasional on-site summer research internship(Additional support for materials, travel, food, or lodging will not be provided.)  You should not submit a proposal for a ProCES-Derian research internship if you have another paid full-time commitment during the program in June and July 2021. Your internship is expected to be a full-time position and you will spend a total of 40 hours per week doing research work for your host organization, observing meetings, attending events relevant to your project(s), and participating in ProCES's programming. Every week, you will be able to benefit from training, support, and professional development activities that are organized by ProCES. You will also have opportunities to connect with your peer ProCES-Derian interns.  

The research must be done in collaboration with a hosting nonprofit organization or governmental agency.  Proposals with an emphasis on laboratory research, direct service, event planning, and marketing are unlikely to be funded. Preference will be given to proposals involving existing ProCES community partner organizations and Service Focus alumni or potential participants.  ProCES staff are regularly available until February 12, 2021 to help develop your ideas and partnerships; schedule an appointment on WASE.

You will have to adhere to all Princeton University travel guidelines.  Summer 2021 policies will be announced at some point early next year.  In the meantime, your proposal must include 1) a single project or set of small projects that can be done either remotely or in-person, or 2) two projects (or sets of smaller projects), one of which is suited for remote work with the other being feasible if on-site activities are permitted.

Eligibility, key dates, and proposal components

All enrolled first-year, sophomore, and junior Princeton students are eligible to submit a proposal between December 16, 2020 - February 22, 2021 in Handshake.  ProCES cannot support summer internships for graduating seniors. ProCES's Derian internships are eligible for Service Focus for first-year students.  International students are welcome to apply.

The preferred 8-week timeframe for internships is June 7 through July 30, 2021.  ProCES staff can work with you and a potential host organization staff to develop projects and ideas between now and February 12, 2021.  Proposals are due on Monday, February 22, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EST and on Friday, March 12, 2021, ProCES will inform you whether or not your proposal has been approved.

You should upload the documents listed below into Handshake. 

  • Resume 
  • Transcript from Oracle including fall 2020 grades (unofficial is fine)
  • A document containing contact information for a reference — name and contact information for a recent employer or someone at Princeton who can speak to your academic work
  • Internship description. Be sure to include the:
    • partner organization’s name, website, and a brief description of their work;
    • contact information for your potential supervisor;
    • why you want to work with this particular partner organization and how your academic interests, work, and personal experiences have prepared you for this project;
    • the focus of your research;
    • the expected impact of your work on the partner organization; and
    • what you hope to learn from this internship experience.

What is offered to and expected of you

This internship will allow you to use and develop your academic skills and experience to investigate a question and meet an information need identified by a hosting agency or nonprofit organization.  You are expected to make full use of the research resources available through Princeton University while independently investigating the questions or topics that are of most interest to your host organization.  ProCES will virtually connect you and your peer Derian interns to various centers and units on campus that support undergraduate research.  

From December 2020 – February 2021, you will:

  • communicate with a host organization you know to gauge interest in hosting a research intern (ProCES can provide you with a document to share), or
  • book a time to talk to ProCES if you’re looking for a host organization that matches your intellectual and professional  interests (last appointments will be offered on Friday, February 12, 2021);
  • work with ProCES and the partner organization to identify specific topics or questions for an 8-week research project;
  • request that a former supervisor or someone at Princeton who can speak to your academic work be willing to serve as a reference for you; and
  • submit your proposal by no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, February 22, 2021.

Shortly after March 12, 2021, you will:

  • sign and return your commitment letter to ProCES to accept the internship funding, if offered;
  • inform your host organization about the outcome of your proposal and whether or not you are committing to interning over the summer; 
  • withdraw your applications from any other program to which you have applied; and
  • expect ProCES to provide any University updates or next steps to your host organization. 

In April and May 2021, you will:

  • attend a Zoom meeting ProCES will arrange with the host organization to go over the finer details of the internship, project(s), and expected deliverables; 
  • explore the internship resources available through the University’s Center for Career Development and Career Compass to prepare for your upcoming experience.

In June and July 2021, you will:

  • regularly correspond with your host organization to describe progress and ask questions (ideally by sending a weekly e-mail with a brief description of research tasks started or completed and a short list of questions, then speak with host organization supervisor for 30 minutes on the phone or online to discuss questions); 
  • occasionally attend (online or in-person) meetings of the organization relevant to the research project; 
  • participate in weekly ProCES programming; and
  • produce and submit agreed upon final materials.
More about ProCES and its Derian summer research internships

The Program for Community-Engaged Scholarship (ProCES) at Princeton University is an academic program that connects the curriculum with Princeton's signature commitment to service. It fosters collaborative, change-oriented projects of an intellectual nature that benefit students, faculty members, and community partners.  ProCES facilitates community-engaged and service-oriented academic work by supporting courses, independent work, and internships. 

ProCES has worked successfully with students and nonprofit organizations on summer research internships in the Princeton/Trenton area for over 20 years.  In that time, ProCES has also provided funding and advising for student-proposed domestic and international research internships.  The projects ProCES supports are designed to enhance the capacity of the organization and the research skills of the students.  Last year, ProCES supported fully remote internships where students worked with organizations all over the United States and one in Mexico. 

My internship...helped me prepare for my thesis [and] it also taught me the lasting impact research can have on communities…I realized community-based research was a great way to step out of the classroom and make creative solutions for real-life issues. With the mentors and resources of [ProCES] as well as the welcoming atmosphere of my internship site, I gained a variety of skills that proved useful to my college studies and beyond. ~Amani Rush, class of 2016