PHINS Information

Peers Helping Incoming New Students (PHINS) are New Student Orientation volunteer leaders who are trained to aid incoming students with the move-in process and their adjustment to college life. PHINS serve as an excellent resource on student services, campus organizations, communication skills, student issues, and many other topics dealing with university life. Look for them wearing blue PHINS shirts during NSO to answer your questions and provide assistance. During the academic year, PHINS serve as tour guides for local PennTracks Walking Tours, hosts for First-Year and Second-Year Experience programs, and as Ambassadors during Penn’s Quaker Days (QD) and Multicultural Scholars Preview (MSP).

Selection Process

In February, undergraduate students can apply to become a member of the PHINS program. The selection process consists of an online application that is reviewed by NSOAI Staff. In some cases, additional screenings may be required (i.e. in-person/phone/virtual/group interviews, background checks, reference requests, etc.).

Training Overview

After being selected for the program, each PHINS trainee attends a mandatory, one-day, on-campus training program on Sunday, March 29, 2020, and a refresher course at the beginning of next year’s NSO on Monday, August 24, 2020. During these trainings, students learn the essentials of becoming an orientation leader and Penn resource. The PHINS interactive training includes workshops, role plays, and presentations on the following topics:

  • understanding the student helper's role and its influence
  • use of verbal and non-verbal communication skills
  • active listening and assertiveness training
  • campus leaders, resources, and buildings
  • referral skills
  • expectation during NSO and the academic year

Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate possesses some of the following characteristics:

Attitude Work Style Teamwork
Positive Professional Flexible
Friendly Detail-oriented Team player
Open-minded Responsible Patient
Caring Persistent Inclusive
Motivated Punctual Cooperative
Sense of Humor Follows Directions Concern for others


PHINS are provided with staff shirts and any other materials they may need during NSO (i.e. water bottle, phone battery charger, etc.). Staff members are compensated with free early move-in, meals during NSO, and serve in a paraprofessional role that better prepares them for the “real world” experience.

Spring 2020

  • February 1 – PHINS Application Available Online
  • March 1 – PHINS Application Deadline
  • March 29 – PHINS Spring Training
  • April 6, 14, & 15 – Serve as Ambassador during Quaker Days and Multicultural Scholars Preview

Summer 2020

  • May-August – PHINS communicate (mostly through email) with summer NSOAI staff to prepare for fall.
  • August – PHINS select NSO shifts through an online shift schedule.
  • August 23 – PHINS Move Back to Campus
  • August 24 – PHINS Fall Training
  • August 25 – PHINS NSO Shifts Begins

Fall 2020

  • September – December - PHINS are able to serve as tour guides for local PennTracks Walking Tours and hosts for First-Year and Second-Year Experience programs.
  • November – Returning PHINS are eligible to apply for PHINS Coordinator paid positions.