Science Internship FAQ

When should I do an internship?

Since there are some internship programs designed for students who have completed only one year of college, you could do an internship as early as the summer between your freshman and sophomore years. However, most internship programs are targeted at students between their sophomore and junior years, and between their junior and senior years.

You should plan to do at least one research internship by the summer between your junior and senior years. If you are considering attending graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. and a career in research, or pursuing dual M.D./Ph.D. degrees, it is important to have as many research-related experiences as possible - two (or more) internships are recommended.

Meet with your academic advisor to make a plan to fit internships into your undergraduate experience.

Are there any internships available for freshmen, who will have completed only one year of college?

While most internship programs are for students who will have completed their sophomore or junior year of college, there are some programs that are designed for students who have completed only one year of college science courses. These programs are noted in the internships listings. Some individuals affiliated with W&J are willing to take exceptional freshmen into their laboratories.

I need to make money during the summer. Are research internships volunteer, or do you get paid for your work?

Virtually all of the nationally-advertised internships listed on the science internships page include a stipend (typically $3500 - $5000 for a 10-week summer program). Many also include housing and food. Some even include roundtrip airfare.

For internships that are unusually expensive (e.g. international internships) or in laboratories that lack funding to support a summer research intern, you may be eligible to apply for internship funds through W&J's Howard Hughes Medical Institutes (HHMI) grant, W&J's Merck Internships for Excellence in Science program, W&J's Edwin M. Linton endowment for marine biological studies at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the W&J Office of Career Services' Ellis Hyman Internship Award, or W&J's Magellan Project (Kelso and Walker Awards).

Will I be at a disadvantage for getting an internship because I am:
- from a small liberal arts college?
- a first-generation college student?
- from a minority group underrepresented in the sciences?
- physically disabled?

Usually not - in fact, there are many programs that give preference to students who are in one or more of these categories. Some programs are designed specifically for these students. Such programs are noted in the internships listings.

Will I be doing anything besides research, or will I be in the field or at the lab bench 24/7?

While you'll likely be expected to work full-time (at least 40 hours/week) at your project, most nationally-advertised programs also schedule plenty of other activities for their summer interns. You may be participating in weekly research group meetings, attending seminars to hear prominent scientists talk about their work, touring research labs or biotech companies, or attending GRE or MCAT prep workshops.

Programs usually schedule plenty of non-science-related social activities, too: you might find yourself cheering at a baseball game, whitewater rafting down a river, attending the theatre or symphony, exploring a local historical site or museum, or attending a reception for the opening of a new art exhibition.

Since each internship program schedules its own activities, check each Web page for information about the programs in which you are interested.