1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Fall Undergraduate Internship: School vs Research Experience

  1. Jun 29, 2015 #1
    Fall internships for undergraduates?

    I have myself in quite the pickle. I'm entering my senior year of college pursuing a BS in Physics and a minor in Math. I go to a small university near LA. I was just offered a paid internship across the country by NASA for this upcoming fall. Of course I won't be able to attend school if I take the internship, but it seems like I would be giving up a huge opportunity if I didn't go. I applied for many summer opportunities and didn't get anything, so seeing a nice stipend and fancy research promises seems too good to be true.

    I haven't spoken to my school or advisor yet about this, and there doesn't seem to be anything online related to this. My scholarship to my school outweighs the stipend, and I'm not sure that it will be there when I come back. Also, being at a small university (10 physics majors total), the upper division classes rotate. This means that the classes that I will miss won't be back for 2 years. I need those classes for my degree and minor and I don't think the professors at my school would want to do an online version of their classes for one student.

    One good thing about it is the research done at the internship would satisfy my senior research project.

    My school is very helpful with these things, but I don't know if this is too much to ask or if it's even worth it. I want to eventually pursue a PHD to do research. Does undergraduate research really help in getting accepted to graduate schools?

    I was wondering if there is anybody out there who has gone through this experience or any advice from experienced physics people.

    Side note: The offer says that fall internships are more exclusive than summer ones. Not sure I believe that.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 29, 2015 #2


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    Undergraduate research helps tremendously in getting into a PhD program. And NASA would be an excellent experience. It would be a shame to turn this down, but your situation does make the question a worthwhile one to ask. You haven't discussed it with an adviser, but you really should. There may be some options available. It may be possible to take some courses at a different school that's close to the location of your internship, and then return to your school in the spring on track.

    It may be that the fall internships are more exclusive. Most places take on a lot more interns in the summer than they do during the spring or fall. This means that there are fewer positions available, which could very easily make them more exclusive. Although I'm not sure that this is really a point that should be heavily considered here.
  4. Jun 30, 2015 #3
    I agree with QuantumCurt, until you know all your options, making a decision is much harder. At my school, I also have a really small physics department with rotating classes. What they can do is you can request for them to offer the classes in a semester not normally offered. You might not know if something similar to that can be done at your university until you talk to your advisor - I assume you've already signed up for classes and all.
    And you'd want to also make sure your scholarship would still be there when you returned. You don't want to extend your undergraduate degree by two years for a semester of full time paid research (well, maybe you do!). But even if you do want to do that (heck, get a double major!), then funding comes in and you don't know if your funding would cover you for the next two years.
    So basically, you need to find out more and talk to your advisor(s).
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook