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School’s Out… Now What? On Summer Internships (REUs).

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Congratulations! Your last Final has been turned in and you’re feeling relieved, finally having a minute to breathe after a hectic semester. Now you finally have time to think about your future, such as considering opportunities for the summer.

Summer is a great time to work on your future career aspirations, whether it is from wanting to be a researcher and find the cure for cancer or wanting to be a general surgeon. Fortunately, there are many opportunities for those interested in STEM, but it can take a bit of work to locate all of the opportunities. Fortunately, this article helps to shed light on opportunities out there, such as summer internships.

One major opportunity that those interested in STEM is REUs (Research Experiences for Undergraduates), which are available in a variety of fields from computer science to mathematics to biochemistry. With stipends provided through the NSF (National Science Foundation), students are able to spend a summer working on a research project with the guidance of faculty members along with graduate students. Although this is an opportunity only for citizens of the United States, it is an opportunity worth checking out as there are opportunities nationwide, with potential travel support if needed (1). These programs tend to take a few undergraduate students, which will allow you to meet new people interested in the same field as you. These deadlines tend to be early and the competition can be fierce to place into a program, so apply early and to a few programs. Stay tuned for more information on specific REUs throughout the summer!

Other opportunities can be found at your home institution. Many faculty stay on campus throughout the summer and conduct their own research. If you really just loved your General Biology professor, it is worth asking him about research opportunities within his lab for the summer. Often faculty have a stipend they can provide for summer research help. Plus by working at your home institution, it can lead to a more long-term project as your work can extend into the upcoming semester. It’s worth shooting your professor an email or dropping by during office hours because the experience can be invaluable and you can even score an amazing letter of recommendation from it.

If the outdoors is appealing to you, perhaps you have an interest in ecology. The National Park Services has a wide range of internships that they offer, along with stipends to help offset the cost during the summer (2). You will be able to make a difference on the environment, enjoy the great outdoors, and learn more about nature through these programs. It definitely would be a summer to remember!

Although summer internships look great on resumes, they are not the only options available.  If you are interested in clinical experiences, such as working with patients, it can be helpful to reach out to your local hospital. The hospital may be able to accommodate your interests, such as offering a volunteer opportunity to interact directly with patients or the option to shadow doctors in specialties that pique your interest. Showing commitment to volunteering is not only a great resume-builder, but it allows you to give back to your community and make a difference.

Taking a summer class to get ahead in your degree can also be helpful. Summer classes show your dedication to your studies, plus you may be able to graduate early! Although this is not always an option for everyone due to financial costs, it is definitely something to consider.

One of the other options for the summer is to find a summer job and earn some money to help offset the cost of tuition. There are numerous jobs available, but perhaps try to find a job that matches your intellectual interests. One possibility is to be a camp counselor and teach children science, allowing you to take the complex concepts you learned throughout the semester and make it simplistic enough for children to understand. Exploring options near your hometown may result in opportunities you didn’t even know about!

Hopefully while reading this article, your mind has begun to race thinking about the opportunities out there to explore for your summer. Let us know about any opportunities you are exploring in the comments and spread your knowledge with others. Best of luck for an amazing, fun, intellectually-stimulating summer!

References & Footnotes:

1. National Science Foundation – Where Discoveries Begin. National Science Foundation.

2. Opportunities to Get Involved. National Park Services.


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