• Support PF! Buy your school textbooks, materials and every day products via PF Here!

Physics Summer research internship in Physics

97
6
I just finished my second year at a European University. I did some laser-related experimental summer research after first year, and am currently doing a condensed matter experimental summer research (both at European research institutes).

Next year I would like to work at an Ivy League University (or MIT), or its associated research institutes (both for cultural experience and for CV points). I have searched on the internet but somehow it seems that there are quite few opportunities actually advertised on the internet relating to this.

Could you please help me in terms of how to get a placement like this?
I was thinking of emailing loads of research groups until one of them says 'yes, come', but I hope there is something more effective than this?

My interests: quantum physics, condensed matter physics, theoretical physics, mathematical physics, but I would be pretty much happy with any physics related thing as long as its a top US university. (by top i mean like top 10 in USA)
 

Vanadium 50

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
23,094
5,385
What do you offer these places? Reading this sounds like it's all about you. Put yourself in the shoes of of one of the research groups you are planning on spamming. Why should they hire you?
 
97
6
I dont want to give any personal info, but I was top5 in my country (usually ranking top 8-12 in IPhO rankings) in physics competitions in high school (i know this doesnt matter much but it does mean im not stupid), I'm studying Physics in Oxbridge (UK), and as I said I have some research experience.

They should hire me because I'm quite smart ( :D ) and because Physics is my passion :)

EDIT: thanks for the reply Vanadium 50! :)
 

ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
2018 Award
35,045
3,881
I just finished my second year at a European University. I did some laser-related experimental summer research after first year, and am currently doing a condensed matter experimental summer research (both at European research institutes).

Next year I would like to work at an Ivy League University (or MIT), or its associated research institutes (both for cultural experience and for CV points). I have searched on the internet but somehow it seems that there are quite few opportunities actually advertised on the internet relating to this.

Could you please help me in terms of how to get a placement like this?
I was thinking of emailing loads of research groups until one of them says 'yes, come', but I hope there is something more effective than this?

My interests: quantum physics, condensed matter physics, theoretical physics, mathematical physics, but I would be pretty much happy with any physics related thing as long as its a top US university. (by top i mean like top 10 in USA)
When you look at those "...opportunities ... advertised on the internet...", did it list a set of requirements for being eligible for such opportunities?

Most of the internships being offered at various US institutions are for those students matriculating in a US university. Most of these internships even have more stringent requirements, such as the student must be a US citizen or permanent resident.

Unless there is a specific student-exchange program between your institution or your country with specific institutions in the US, it is usually extremely difficult for a student from another country to gain an internship position here in a US institution.

Zz.
 
97
6
Thanks for the answer ZapperZ!

That is exactly what I found: matriculated member of US University and usually citizen az well. This is quite sad as Europe does not pose these requirements (i.e. Their are tons of programmes where you dont have to be from EU to take part)

So I guess my question is, do you know about any such programs in USA where you dont need citizenship?

Does it even make sense to email professors? (i can get a Visa obviously)
Thanks!
 

f95toli

Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,927
420
I dont want to give any personal info, but I was top5 in my country (usually ranking top 8-12 in IPhO rankings) in physics competitions in high school (i know this doesnt matter much but it does mean im not stupid), I'm studying Physics in Oxbridge (UK), and as I said I have some research experience.

They should hire me because I'm quite smart ( :D ) and because Physics is my passion :)

EDIT: thanks for the reply Vanadium 50! :)
But you will still be of very limited use in an actual lab. Trust me, I've had quite a few summer students
from various UK universities (including Oxbridge) and most of you are pretty useless :wink:
The problem is that the placements are quite short and there simply isn't enough time for you to learn how to do any of the specialised tasks that I need to get done in the lab. Note that it takes PhD students about a year to get to the point where they are "productive" (the amount of useful work they put out exceeds the amount of work it takes to teach and supervise them).

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy having students in my lab and I do very much consider it to be part of my job to teach/inspire students. It is also a way for us to look for future PhD students. But we very rarely accept students because we think they are going to be useful.

One advice when looking for positions would be to think about any other practical skills you might have. The students I've had that were useful in the lab were the ones that had relevant hobbies such as programming (beyond what they teach you in school), electronics (=knowing how to solder) etc.
There is always work that can be done by someone that knows how to solder and how to use an oscilloscope; how well you did in a physics competition is not very relevant.
 
97
6
But you will still be of very limited use in an actual lab. Trust me, I've had quite a few summer students
from various UK universities (including Oxbridge) and most of you are pretty useless :wink:
Yes, I do understand that! Obviously :) but this IS a working system both in US and in EU. The problem is just with moving inbetween these. :(

One advice when looking for positions would be to think about any other practical skills you might have. The students I've had that were useful in the lab were the ones that had relevant hobbies such as programming (beyond what they teach you in school), electronics (=knowing how to solder) etc.
Fair enough, this makes sense. I guess I do have some of these skills, I'll try to look for groups relating to those them. Even if they aren't the most interesting I guess :/ who likes to solder anyways... ugh experimental physics :P

And thanks for the honest but still nice/kind reply! Much appreciated! :)
 

f95toli

Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,927
420
Yes, I do understand that! Obviously :) but this IS a working system both in US and in EU. The problem is just with moving inbetween these. :(
Less so in the EU than in the US. There are relatively speaking very few opportunities for undergraduates to work in research groups in the EU (or at least int he UK and Sweden, the two systems I am familiar with); it is simply not part of the system and is -AFAIK- never a requirement (not counting placements and/or projects that are part of the curriculum). For the the vast majority of students their first real opportunity to work in a research group is when they do the MSc project (or equivalent).
 
97
6
There are relatively speaking very few opportunities for undergraduates to work in research groups in the EU (or at least int he UK and Sweden, the two systems I am familiar with)
I can only speak for UK, but there are a LOT of research opportunities... most Universities (well, the better ones at least) have UROP programmes.

And yes, obviously its not a requirement but when you apply for a PhD and you can show that you already worked 3x 2 months in different prestigious places around the globe that can mean a lot. Along with exam results obviously :D
 

Dr. Courtney

Education Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2018 Award
2,925
1,844
But you will still be of very limited use in an actual lab. Trust me, I've had quite a few summer students
from various UK universities (including Oxbridge) and most of you are pretty useless :wink:
The problem is that the placements are quite short and there simply isn't enough time for you to learn how to do any of the specialised tasks that I need to get done in the lab.
I know there are lots of labs where this is true, but there are also lots of labs where conscientious and hard working students with a few skills can be useful on short-term lab jobs. We've had a bunch come through our lab, and I've also continued to track these students as they move into other short-term jobs.

Most of the time, short-term productivity results from the adviser finding a good match between the student's existing skills and a well-defined side project that is not in the "critical path" of the larger lab projects with too many moving parts and specialized skills for short-term productivity. I estimate our lab's success rate with short-term student productivity is about 70%, with the 30% who are unproductive usually are simply not working very hard.

But productive students nearly always enter with at least one well-developed useful skill - programming, data analysis, vacuum systems, optics, etc. And they can always work independently and follow instructions. We've got one former student doing a summer REU now in a lab requiring mostly different skills. They hit the ground running and were immediately productive. They had picked up enough instrumentation skills along the way that they developed the capability of coming up the learning curve quickly on new instruments. Another former student is leveraging the programming skills developed and refined with us to quickly become productive in their current summer research job.
 

f95toli

Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,927
420
I can only speak for UK, but there are a LOT of research opportunities... most Universities (well, the better ones at least) have UROP programmes.
That is not my experience. There are indeed some opportunities, but not nearly as many as in the US where research experience is considered an important part of the training.
We collaborate with several universities in the London area and when we advertise for summer students we typically get 10x as many applicants as there as positions, there simply aren't enough positions to go around which is a shame. This is also my experience reading the CV of students applying for PhD positions; some of them will have done summer internships but the vast majority will only have done shorter placements and/or projects that were done as part of the curriculum.
 
97
6
We collaborate with several universities in the London area
may I ask who 'we' is?

but not nearly as many as in the US where research experience is considered an important part of the training.
possibly, I believe you.


So what is your advice to me? How could I apply to some US place? Does it matter much if I know a prof who did his phd in ivy league? (he's a prof in europe now)
thanks!
 

ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
2018 Award
35,045
3,881
So what is your advice to me? How could I apply to some US place? Does it matter much if I know a prof who did his phd in ivy league? (he's a prof in europe now)
thanks!
Once again, unless there is some student-exchange program between your institution/country and another institution in the US, I do not know of any internship program that accepts students from outside the US. The one internship program that I know quite well, the Lee Teng internship program in accelerator science, accepts non-US citizens/permanent resident students, but only those already studying at a US university. The rest, such as DOE SULI and REU, all typically require US/permanent resident status.

So your best bet is to ask about such exchange program. Otherwise, I do not see any appreciable chance of you getting an internship in the US.

Zz.
 

f95toli

Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,927
420
may I ask who 'we' is?
I work at a one of the national labs here in the UK. We are (obviously) not a university but we do have shared student (mainly PhD students but also some MSc and MRes students doing their projects here) with many different universities in the UK.
We also specific arrangements with some of these universities which means that we accept a certain number of summer students each year which is why I am familiar with how difficult it is for students to find a position.
 
97
6
Right. Okay guys thanks a lot. There is such a programme yes (with Caltech), but only 1 student oer year gets to go, which is... ... not too realistic im afraid.

anyways, thanks a lot guys! :)
 

Want to reply to this thread?

"Summer research internship in Physics" You must log in or register to reply here.

Related Threads for: Summer research internship in Physics

Replies
9
Views
4K
Replies
1
Views
2K
Replies
7
Views
14K
Replies
7
Views
464
  • Posted
Replies
5
Views
3K
Replies
1
Views
688
  • Posted
Replies
5
Views
2K

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving
Top