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Research opportunities for non-students

  1. Jan 29, 2010 #1
    Does anyone know of research opportunities, such as summer programs, that will take on someone who is not currently a student but is planning on going back for grad school?

    I finished undergrad back in 2002 (double major in Physics and Computer Science at a good school), have been working as a software engineer since then, and am now planning to apply for Ph.D programs (either in astronomy, physics, or computational science/engineering) that start in fall 2011. Because I've been out of school for several years, I'm worried about my lack of recent research experience and not being able to get current letters of recommendation from professors. As of now, my recommendations would have to come from my employers, and it sounds like that won't be sufficient to get me into good schools even if I do well on the GREs. They seem to really want recommendations from academic sources regarding recent research experience. And in addition to the networking possibilities, it would be a lot of fun for me to get into research since this is what I want to do for my future career. I really don't want to wait another 1.5 years to start school/research, but don't have much choice because of how the dates line up.

    My schedule is very flexible right now since I work as a contractor, so I could even take the summer off and travel somewhere if I could find someone that would take me on. I think my skills and interests would allow me to get up to speed quickly and contribute in a lab. The ideal situation would be something like an REU program or internship, but everything that I've found online seems to only accept applications from current students. If anyone knows of programs that I might be eligible for, or has other ideas I should try, I'd appreciate if you'd let me know!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 29, 2010 #2
    Local neighborhood public university system? Pick up a summer course and show some interest and competence and a professor may let you into his/her lab for a summer. It almost doesn't matter if your course is in anything, that's just a way to get you into the building. And you can totally take non-degree advanced courses in your areas of interest so that you have recs. (Your first degree already gives the prestige.) Email professors whose work looks interesting, and ask the guys at work if any of them have good relationships with faculty somewhere. Maybe a college roommate or spouse went on to do a phD, just ask. I've also seen some fellowships/internships targeted at people going back to school after work. Throw that into google and see what you find.
     
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