So we are halfway through the academic year, it is freezing cold...err...pleasantly cool outside, and the snow rises eight...zero inches above the ground. Sounds like you should be working on those internship applications!
So why would you want an internship experience?
Well, you don’t plan on going to school forever, do you (MD-PhD people please don’t answer that)? Of course not! Which means you’ll need a job after you finish college.
An internship allows you to put your foot in a company’s door without needing to commit a number of years after graduating. The great thing about an internship is that a company will usually choose from one of its own meaning that prior experience with the company means a greater shot of being employed with that company after graduation.
The experience will also allow you broaden your knowledge in a way that a classroom never will. Not only will you apply your classroom knowledge, but you will be learning a number of new techniques in related fields. Furthermore, a classroom necessarily allows room for error in techniques. That is, you do not need to completely master a technique in order to pass the class. During your internship experience, you’ll have no way out.
The level of mastery you gain will give you a lot of confidence. Not only have you mastered a number of complicated laboratory techniques, but you can confidently build your resume and show future employers/grad schools that you have the research experience they’re looking for.
Speaking of which, you might want to continue going to school after you’re done with your BS. An internship opportunity is also a networking opportunity. Your mentor at whatever institution/company you’re working for already finished their MA/PhD! They’ll probably have a lot of good advice on where to apply (and can probably write a good recommendation letter)!
So how do I find an internship that fits me?
Well, to start, you either belong in the category of people who know (or think they know) what they want to do or you belong in the “I don’t know what I want to do with my life” category. I’ll address the former first.
So you think you know what you want to do, eh? Well, half the work is done then. All you have to do is either visit your advisor or Google internship opportunities with whatever it is you want to do. For me, I knew I wanted to do something related with the origin of life or early evolution of the planet. Before long, I found that NASA does a lot of research in that sort of stuff and that NASA Ames was the place to go.
And now, for the rest of you…the best I can do is to recommend some internships that sound interesting. I always contemplated on applying for a REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates). Just Google REU and have at it. There are a number of different experiences available in a number of fields. If you’re unsure on what to do with your life, this may be the perfect place to start.
The government manages several national laboratories (but perhaps, not for long *coughronpaulcough*). These labs do research in everything from agriculture and ecology to biophysics and molecular biology. You can probably find something you’ll like there. The website to go to is science.gov.
If all else fails, talk (and listen…more on that in the future “how to NOT get into grad school” blog) to your academic or honors advisor. :-)
IBH students travel the world, publish research papers, and do all sorts of amazing things