Guide to Vetting Your Internship

SSII Fund: Guide to vetting your internship

SSII 2023

This guide will help you discern whether an organization that interests you is likely to qualify for the SSII Fund.

Is this a social impact or service internship?

Follow the steps below to determine if an internship is eligible to apply for SSII funding. 

Step 1: Is this organization registered as a 501(c)(3) organization (you can use the IRS search to find the status)?

  • If yes: Internships from this organization are likely to qualify. 
  • If no: Continue to step 2. 

Step 2: Is the organization currently applying for 501(c)(3) status? 

  • If yes: You will need a letter from the organization clarifying their status. 
  • If no: Continue to step 3. 

Step 3: Are they a government agency?

  • If yes: Internships from this organization are likely to qualify. 
  • If no: Internships from this organization are unlikely to qualify. 

Is this internship a good fit for me?

These guiding questions will help you evaluate the internship and whether it is a good fit for your current goals and values. We encourage you to make an appointment with a career adviser to discuss any questions or concerns you have. 

Understanding the organization and opportunity

  • Does this organization have a website? Does it include the mission and work of the organization?
  • Is this organization charging you fees to participate or learn? 
  • What are their health and safety protocols (especially related to COVID)?
  • Is this organization working to address needs specific to the community they serve?
  • Will the projects you work on impact and connect to communities in sustainable ways (i.e., can continue well after you leave)?

Finding strong supervision & mentorship

  • Does your supervisor work directly for the organization?
  • Who will be your mentor? 
  • How often will you meet with your mentor? How can you pursue feedback?
  • How will your progress be tracked? 
  • What are the set goals of your internship? 

Considering logistics and location

  • Will you feel safe living in this area?
  • What kind of transportation will you need to navigate the area? 
  • Would a SSII Fund award be enough to cover the cost of living for this internship site/location?

Assessing your fit & learning goals

  • What skills or knowledge do you need to succeed in this role? Is it realistic that you could do this role? 
  • What resources are available to you as you work on your projects?
  • What risks do you anticipate come with being associated with this role or project? What resources do you need access to in order to minimize risks?

Readying yourself for growth 

  • Do you have any questions you hope to answer by completing this internship?  
  • What specific skills or knowledge do you hope to learn? 
  • What specific skills or knowledge do they hope to teach you? 
  • If you are returning to a workplace or community: How might that community perceive you differently now that you are a college student (especially one who attends Princeton)? How might that community have changed during your recent absence? 
  • If you are entering a new community or workplace: What do you bring to this community? What aspects of your identity may be a barrier to building trust and relationships? What can you learn from this community? 

What to look out for

Green flags

  • Lists mission on website
  • Plans to mentor an intern
  • Assigned mentor for internship
  • Outlines clear goals for internship
  • Plans brief intern orientation
  • Lists learning objectives in the internship description
  • Collects applications through professional website or email address
  • Focuses on the needs of the specific community they serve

Red flags

  • Does not post a mission or projects on website
  • Charges you fees to serve or learn
  • Provides supervision by committee (many) 
  • Offers no set goals for internship
  • Plans to onboard without orientation 
  • Focuses only on responsibilities in the internship description
  • Collects applications through a personal email address (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc.)
  • Pursues projects without connecting them to the particular needs or desires of the community they serve