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Graduate Internship Decision

  • Thread starter teroenza
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Hi All,
While applying to fellowships last semester as a first year grad student, I also applied on a whim to the AFRL Scholars internship program. I got an offer from them this summer to work on Rb and Ca Vapor Cell Clocks. It's a paid 12-week summer internship, and there are no associated service commitments.

After speaking with my soon-to-be adviser (in cold-atom AMO physics) though, he thinks it is a bad idea. His point is that the research there won't directly benefit my progress in getting a PhD, and since there are no funding issues in the lab here at Rice, I should stay and work here.

This makes sense to me, but I wanted opinions before turning down the offer. Coming from an undergrad mindset where being accepted to anything is exciting, this is a new situation for me.
 

Vanadium 50

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The thing that you didn't say, and I think says a lot, is that you were interested in this research.

Do you have quals at the end of the summer? If so, don't you want to be working with a study group over the summer? That would be another good reason to avoid this.
 
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My program does not have quals yet, so that is not an issue for me. I actually am more interested in the applied type of research that this internship does. That said, I like what I am doing at my school too (that's why I chose the group) and I think that jeopardizing my position, or even straining relationships, here is not worth the few months of experience I would get.
 

Choppy

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After speaking with my soon-to-be adviser (in cold-atom AMO physics) though, he thinks it is a bad idea. His point is that the research there won't directly benefit my progress in getting a PhD, and since there are no funding issues in the lab here at Rice, I should stay and work here.
I would give this advice a lot of weight. Your supervisor (to be) knows you better than we do. He also knows the project and what it will take to move it forward and eventually lead to a PhD.

While it's exciting to be accepted into something like this, one of the things about chosing a PhD project is that it requires committment. Unfortunately that can mean turning down other opportunities that arise while you're working on it. If you were struggling with your current project or did not have funding for the summer then this might have been an interesting opportunity to explore. But if your interests in each direction are relatively equal and there is no clear benefit to chosing the internship over advancing your PhD, I would pass on it.
 

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