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Interning at a national lab: good idea?

  1. Aug 3, 2010 #1
    I'm a first year PhD ME student and I'm thinking about applying for an internship at a national lab next summer. Are interns typically treated well at labs, as in they do somewhat meaningful work and research? I'm not looking for some kind of REU experience but something that would actually require me to think and do something worth my while.

    What are the chances of me even getting an intern position at a national lab? I've got quite a bit of laboratory experience, especially for someone my age and background. I'm in pretty good academic standing as well, however I don't go to a ivy league university nor do I have any connections with a national lab. Do you need stellar academics to get an internship at a place like LANL, ANL, or ORNL?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2010 #2
    My experience has been good at NREL, as an undergraduate intern. Research experiences seem to vary, but in general I most interns seem to have decent projects.

    Partly, it varies based on how much you know how to do. In my case, I had practically no background in PV and I'm working on a PV reasearch project, so I've spent a lot of time reading papers and a fair amount of time doing rote measurements having just learned to use the systems. Last summer I was here too, and I spent most of my time programming in LabVIEW or Igor (ugh) but I was able to work independently most of the time, and had a good introduction to PV so I could come back this summer with at least some background.

    I should add that I don't know what the graduate student interns' experiences are like, since they are in a completely different program. SULI is more structured than other internship programs so it may help us avoid gruntwork (in fact, mentors are specifically instructed not to pass off menial tasks to their interns)

    As for you chances of getting in, I can only say that I got in specifically because I knew LabVIEW and my mentor had a project he wanted someone to work on...
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