Resources & Guides
Employers often spend only 15-30 seconds scanning a resume, so it must work hard to quickly communicate your skills and value. Think of it as a marketing tool that shows that your product (you) meets the needs of your potential customer (the employer).
A resume is a succinct outline of your education, experience, activities, accomplishments and skills as they pertain to your career goals. Effective resumes get noticed because they:
- Emphasize relevant accomplishments and potential contributions
- Focus on the skills and requirements of a specific field or position
- Are concise, well-organized and easy to read
Need help getting starting? Check out our resume guide which includes great advice, worksheets and samples to help you get started or update your existing documents.
- Cover Letters
Most job or internship applications require a cover letter as well as a resume. A well-written cover letter introduces your resume and directs your reader’s attention to specific areas of your background.
It’s important to personalize your cover letters, and there is more to it than mentioning the organization’s name a few times or quoting the job description. Doing this well means thinking about your target audience and demonstrating the value you can add to your future employer.
Need help getting starting? Check out our cover letter guide for advice, worksheets and samples to help you get started or update your existing documents.
- Connecting with Alumni
Whether you are making decisions about your major, post-undergraduate education or career, alumni are often eager to offer advice and referrals.
There will be plenty of opportunities to meet alumni during your time at Princeton, and you can use TigerNet and LinkedIn to find others online.
TigerNet: Princeton's official online community, TigerNet is a searchable directory featuring alumni contact information. Paired with the LinkedIn alumni search tool, it's an effective way to find contact information for alumni and contact them for advice and to learn about their career paths.
LinkedIn alumni search tool: Available for anyone with a LinkedIn account, this tool helps you discover where alumni work and their paths after Princeton.
Start with a email. Since most professionals are quite busy, email is often the preferred mode for initial contact.
Always indicate how you obtained the individual’s information. Mention your interest in learning about their experience, profession or organization. In your subject, include how you were referred. In the body, ask if they have time to speak to you by email, phone or in person if that is an option.
Provide a brief overview of your background so that a new contact can best tailor their advice. Do not attach your resume unless you are asked for it.
Preparing for the conversation
Do not ask for a job or internship. While connections may lead to job and internship opportunities, your primary goal should be to gather information and obtain advice, while making a positive impression.
Review our information interview section of this page for more details on how to prepare.
Be sure to follow up with a thank you email within 24 hours, mentioning at least one piece of advice they gave you and how you will pursue their recommendations further.
You may not always get the response you are looking for, or in some cases you may not get a response. Don't take it personally, the timing just may not work out. Focus on the tens of thousands of other Tigers out there!
- Informational Interviews
An informational interview is an informal conversation with the goal of gathering information and advice, not applying for a job or internship. They are most helpful for learning about career paths and building your network. Informational interviews do not typically lead to immediate job opportunities, but do help you develop connections that can prove valuable later.
Alumni are great sources for informational interviews. For tips on how to contact alumni, read our Connecting with Alumni resource on this page.
- Do your research and develop tailored questions based on prior research of the individual and organization.
- Ask about the individual’s career path and impressions of the field.
- Be specific; do not ask about things that can be easily gleaned on a website.
- Even if you are looking for a job or internship, it is not appropriate to ask for one during an informational interview.
Obtain advice and referrals
- Based on the individual’s knowledge and experience, ask what they think your next steps should be.
- Ask if there are other individuals or organizations they feel you should contact and whether you may state that you were referred by them.
Make a lasting impression
- Always be professional and courteous.
- Bring your resume, or have one ready to share by email if you are talking by phone. This helps your new contact understand your experience level and tailor their advice.
- Follow up with a thank-you email. This should be sent within 24 hours. Mention at least one piece of advice they gave you and how you will pursue their recommendations further.
- Provide updates on your progress from time to time to maintain a connection.
- How did you choose this career field?
- What has been your career path?
- What is the typical career path for someone starting in this field?
- How has the field changed since you started?
- Who are the leading organizations in the field?
- How does your organization compare with its competitors?
- If you were back in college and had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
- What skills, personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this field or job?
- What is your opinion of my background and resume?
- Do you see any problem areas or weaknesses?
- What next steps would you recommend with regard to my (major or career) search?
- Is there anyone else you recommend that I speak with?
- Meetup & Career Fair Preparation
Before the event
Learn about the attendees
HireTiger Career Fairs and Meetups present a great deal of opportunity in a short amount of time, and it's important to arrive with a plan. Making connections with alumni and employers before you start looking for internships and jobs can help you get your foot in the door. It is also a great way to explore the types of industries and professions that match your skills and interests.
For Career Fairs, you can view the list of employer organizations in the Fair listing in Handshake. In addition to a description of the organization, you can also find what types of positions they are hiring for and other details.
For Meetups, we provide a list in the Handshake event of all alumni and representatives from organizations attending.
Make a list of questions for employers and alumni you plan to approach. Most questions will depend on your own motivations and research, but a few general questions that are helpful include:
"Can you tell me more about the projects interns/new employees have worked on in the past?"
- "What do you love about your work?"
- If the person is an alum(na), ask how their Princeton experience was helpful in their career and about the work they do.
Develop your introduction
This is a perfect time to use your elevator pitch. State your name, your year in school, concentration or area of interest and a few of your industry-related skills.
Need some pointers on your elevator pitch? Check out our guide.
During the event
Don't stand out in anyone's memory for the wrong reasons. Make eye contact during conversations, don't interrupt and thank everyone for their time. If there are other students around, don't hesitate to invite them into the conversation. Also, be aware of the time. There may be a line of students behind you who are also trying to speak with the same person.
Close the conversation
Thank the person for their time and gather contact information so you can follow up.
Ideally, mention something you learned from them to establish a connection.
After the event
There are many ways to follow up on the leads you will acquire at a career fair or a Meetup. If you receive a business card, send an email or call to establish contact. When you follow up, thank the contact for their time and reference something you learned during your conversation or the next steps you plan to make as a result of the interaction.
- Funding Resources
Funding is available from Princeton-affiliated sources for Princeton students who independently secure unpaid internships, propose special projects or plan to conduct independent research.
SAFE Funding Portal
The Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE) connects students with university funding for a range of activities on- and off-campus, including internships, summer study abroad, senior thesis research projects or other independent projects.
Additional Princeton Resources
- Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment (ACEE): For summer research projects related to the ACEE, particularly for field work and lab research
- Alumni Association Funding Guide for Princeton Undergraduates: For public service initiatives and academic work
- Center for Information Technology Policy: For scholarship internships for both grads and undergrads
- Class of 1991 Fund: For independent work and community service summer internships
- Council of the Humanities: For internships in writing, journalism and publishing
- International Internship Program: For international internships in private or public sector
- Lewis Center for the Arts Awards: For summer projects in the creative and performing arts
- Pace Center for Civic Engagement: For public service internships affiliated with a Pace Center program or project
- Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) Grand Challenges Program: For internships and research in energy, development and health
- Program in Law and Public Affairs: For internships in public interest law
- Program in Hellenic Studies Seeger Fellowship: For study programs in Greece, archaeological work, independent research, creative projects in the arts and internships
- Streicker International Fellows Fund: For undergraduate students interested in carrying out substantive research or educational projects while immersed in a foreign culture
- U.S. Health Policy Scholars Program: For juniors pursuing global health-related internships and independent research
- Woodrow Wilson School: For WWS students pursuing internships in policy, government or nonprofits
Fellowships for Independent Projects
The following is a sample of awards that require applicants to propose an independent project.
Martin A. Dale ’53 Fellowship: Awarded for an independent project of extraordinary merit that will widen the recipient’s experience of the world and significantly enhance his or her personal growth and intellectual development.
Princeton ReachOut ’56 Fellowship: Open to Princeton seniors who commit to spend their first post-graduation year performing a public interest project. It emphasizes innovative and entrepreneurial projects.
Daniel M. Sachs ’60 Graduating Scholarship: The Scholarship’s core concern is to encourage the development of individuals whose life’s work is likely to benefit the public interest. The Sachs Scholarship at Worcester College, University of Oxford allows the Sachs Scholar to read for any appropriate degree from the University of Oxford. The Sachs Global Scholarship enables study at any foreign institution or the pursuit of an independent program of the Scholar’s own devising.
Funding for International Projects
The Office of International Programs maintains information on the range of fellowships and awards.
Some academic departments have funding available for students who do work related to their concentration or to that field of study. Please check with each department for current information.