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Should i accept this offer from the DOE?

  1. Dec 16, 2009 #1
    I'm having a dilemma deciding whether I want to accept the internship offer from the Argonne National Lab, part of the DOE, for the spring SULI term. They have given me an offer for the project dealing with the testing of newly developed inert anodes for the production of aluminum. I'll assist in the setup and running of a new materials coating process, where I will prepare samples, design mounting fixtures, operate a coating furnace and help with sample analysis.

    I just graduated with my BS in physics and applied math. Currently i've been looking for full-time positions in engineering or some technical position using programming. I've been getting a few phone interviews, including an in-person one later this week. But for the most part, I can't get in-person interviews until after the holidays. In a year or so, I will apply to grad schools in materials or mechanical engineering. I chose not to apply this fall since I don't have enough background in either of those to know for sure that I will enjoy graduate studies in those, since I haven't taken any engineering classes.

    This project seems to sort of relate to materials engineering. The problem is that this position seems experimental, whereas I know for sure that I want to computations/modeling, not experimental work. In addition, it is out of my home state, which may be a problem since my family wants me close to home since one of my family members may pass away soon.

    The only benefits I can see if I were to accept this offer are: the work is with the national labs, so it should look good on my resume, I will get to work closely with a research scientist who can expand my network and serve as a future reference, and it may help me better decide to choose materials vs mechanical engineering in the future.

    I could always just reject this offer, and apply again for the summer or another future term. But if i were offered a full-time position at some company, I don't think i can just easily quit the job to do this DOE internship, right?

    Do you think I should accept this offer or not? Thanks for the help
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 16, 2009 #2
    It's hard to say. I'd probably just flip a coin
  4. Dec 18, 2009 #3
    I still don't know what to do..
  5. Dec 18, 2009 #4


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    You have a lot of "soul searching" to do. You've laid out all the pros and cons, and I can see benefits and drawbacks to both sides of the decision lying ahead of you. It seems more complicated than just grabbing an opportunity by the horns and running with it in your case.

    The family member of yours who is close to passing away...are they coherent and able to hold a conversation? If so, since the main reason you seem to be wanting to turn down the internship is wanting to be close to them, maybe you can ask that person about your choices. Let them know you want to be there for them, and what opportunity you have, and perhaps they can guide you on whether they really need you close to them or if they would be happier to see you take this internship. It sounds to me like their perspective is going to be important to your decision making process right now, so if you can ask them directly, do so.
  6. Dec 18, 2009 #5


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    It sounds like a good internship.
    But, you haven't stated how far the lab is from home.
    If it's within about 6hrs drive, then the location shouldn't be much of a factor.
    I know people who commute a 6hr 1 way drive weekly.

    If home happens to be a long way from everywhere, then you are going to have to either accept moving or change your priorities.

    Anyhow, it's just an internship, so obviously there will be something else later that can be more along the lines you have the most interest in.

    my 2 cents...
  7. Dec 18, 2009 #6
    If you know you are not interested in the work you will doing then what would be the point of working there. Do you think you would gain a lot of useful experience, learn things that will help you with the work you really want to do? If you do not think you would learn anything that relates to your goals I would suggest keep looking.
  8. Dec 19, 2009 #7
    well not really coherent... but when i spoke to him about situations like this when he was still dying but able to speak much more coherently, he said that i shouldnt worry about him and just do whats best for my career. My mom agreed at the time, but since he now seems much worse, she wants me to stay close to home

    you're very correct. When I applied for this internship, i was sure i wanted to do materials engineering in grad school. But after completing plasma physics lab and thermodynamics this semester, I didn't enjoy either subject very much. Not to mention I had mixed feelings after completing quantum mechanics. That's why i've recently been leaning more towards mechanical instead of materials engineering.

    i live in the west coast, but this internship is in Illinois, so its quite awhile away.

    The work doesn't sound all that interesting, but i figure it would at least help me in the decision as to whether i want to pursue a career in research or industry
  9. Dec 21, 2009 #8
    well i've talked this over with my family some more and it looks like i wont be able to take this offer. I can always accept this offer for another term, say the summer.

    But I heard that it is pretty unlikely that I will be able to get a significant job for just one term (for this spring and then quit to do this DOE internship for the summer) and if i start a good job and then walk off from it, that will cause me problems later when i have to explain why i did that. is this true?
  10. Dec 21, 2009 #9
    It is up to you, but having that experience in your resume may be helpful (in various ways) even if you plan to do numerical modeling or computations, or any other career later. You may also get to interact with people who can recommend you work in your field of interest later.
  11. Dec 23, 2009 #10
    This internship has a summer term as well, so wouldn't it be better if i just applied for the summer term? if i reapply for the summer term, what can I do from now until then? I thought about working for a company for a full-time position and then quitting it so I can do this internship during the summer, but I heard thats not a good idea. If its not a good idea to work full-time for a company and then quit for the summer, what are my other options?
    I've tried looking for research positions with engineering professors at my current school, but I don't qualify for them since I don't have an engineering background.
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