Are you a freshman? Do you want to get your Masters or Ph.D.? Are you looking for a summer job in your field? Do you want to go into academia? If the answer to any of these questions is yes (or even if it isn’t), you should consider applying for research programs over this summer! I did one between my freshman and sophomore year. It was an amazing opportunity. I got to make professional connections in my field, work under a mentor on one specialized project, and explore possible career paths. It’s a lot of fun and a great alternative to the more traditional industry internship.
So, what are summer research programs?
They are typically 12 weeks, starting in late May and ending in early August. You live on site and work every day on your own project. At the end of the summer, you present your research to your peers and other professionals! By the end of the summer, you’ve learned an incredibly specialized skill (mine was virtual reality in a web browser), and have a great experience and project to add to your resume.
But Emily, you might ask, this sounds very STEM-y. And you’re right; there are a lot of STEM opportunities (like this one, where you research space robotics). But there are also a wide range of non-stem positions to explore. Maybe you can study behavior at College Park. Maybe you want to study population health at Brown. There are so many choices; don’t discount research just because you don’t think there are options available for you.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably at least a little interested. So what now? As a rule of thumb, most research program applications open around now (what a coincidence) and close around February or March. That means you have all of winter break to work on your applications without having to sacrifice finals studying! When you’re looking to apply, be sure to check out the Office of Undergraduate Research website. They have a huge list of all available programs and a step by step guide to getting your first offer.
Finally, before you apply, be sure to stop by the Career Center to get your resume and personal statements reviewed! And once you land a research internship, be sure to make the most of it (and add it to your UMBC transcript) by signing up for the Career Center's Intern Success Practicum. The Practicum is zero-credit, free of cost, and can often be paired with a for-credit internship or research course.
Good luck, and have a great Thanksgiving break.