How to Write a Personal Statement for Summer Research
The Purpose of a Personal Statement
- Share your interests and enthusiasm for the specific work you are applying to do.
- Demonstrate what you can contribute to the program to which you are applying
- To state the specific lab/program you want to work in and why
- To state your professional goals and what or how you hope to contribute to the program
- Read the personal statement question carefully and analyze what it is asking for.
- Visualize your audience: will this be read by a scientist? An administrator? A physician?
- Recite your research interests as they relate to the work you are applying for
- Write your year of study, major, related academic and career goals, and impressive academic credentials
Experience in the Field
- Mention any special connections to the work such as prior experience or family background (i.e. Name drop)
- Write something unique about your research interests or an idea that fuels your own research interests
Your Proposed Contributions to the Program
- List personal qualities and demonstrate these through examples
- State what you can do for them and what you seek to gain from the opportunity
- Explain how the work fits into your academic and research goals.
- Saying “I am” is more powerful than saying “I have always been.”
- Make positive statements. “I have experience in…” not “I don’t have experience in x, but do have…”
- Craft clear, engaging opening and closing sentences.
- Check that your opening statement is supported in the body and is consistent with your closing.
- Organize the statement so it flows from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph.
- Proofread for grammar, spelling, paragraph breaks, and correct punctuation.
When you have finished drafting your statement, ask yourself:
- Does this statement show my interests in the specific program or is it generic?
- Does this statement describe me specifically or could any good student in my field use this?
Some common mistakes to avoid:
- Restating the question/topic or rewriting your resume or transcript
- Clichés such as “to make the world a better place” instead, explain how such a lofty goal will be achieved
- Providing unrelated information
- Any background earlier than high school.