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!