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Other How can I do an internship? What alternatives are there?

  1. Jan 13, 2017 #1
    Hello all,

    I've recently recovered from a long spell of extreme underachievement in undergrad, having nearly been suspended, due to depression from a variety of factors. This past semester I performed significantly better by rediscovering my love of physics and taking advantage of resources available to me, and by taking a 'full load' of courses this summer, I hope to graduate with a BS in physics and minor in math this December.
    However, I've been told that doing an undergraduate internship is essential to finding a job or getting accepted to any graduate schools (not that this is possible for me, but that's the context I've heard it in), and application deadlines are rapidly approaching and some have already passed. My cumulative GPA is currently too low for acceptance to most of the programs I've seen, and I have no research experience. With my need to attend classes and work on a senior project this summer, this all but eliminates any internship possibilities. What should I do? Would a really intensive senior research project have similar resume weight? I'm within driving distance of a particle accelerator and a NASA center, both of which may have summer internships I could participate in part-time, but I have not done thorough research.

    Informative replies appreciated, and thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 13, 2017 #2


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    This sounds like another case of someone mistaking "ideal" for "essential."

    Sure it would be ideal to have an internship under your belt for a lot of reasons. But it's not essential for admission to graduate school, nor for finding a full time job once you have graduated. And in most respects, a senior thesis project carries as much weight as an internship - in some cases even more.

    I wouldn't worry about it unless you come across an internship that you're really interested in. If it's just a case of wanting "something" - I would focus on doing a good job with your senior thesis project.
  4. Jan 13, 2017 #3
    I'd focus more on the functions than the form. The functions you are probably looking for are 1) research 2) publication opportunity 3) mentorship and guidance that comes from a research collaboration 4) positive letter(s) of recommendation if you impress a research adviser or mentor. Accomplish these things, and it matters less whether the form was a senior research project, an internship, a lab at your local university, or something else.

    You may want to even consider delaying graduation a semester or so if it allows you to boost the GPA and extend a research opportunity long enough to be more productive. But your next step is likely putting together a two page resume, knocking on doors (real and virtual) and trying to find some form of research opportunity. If the best you can do is a senior research project, I'd focus on that and make sure you do an excellent job in all respects. Pick a topic that leverages your existing strengths matched with local opportunities if necessary.
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