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Uhm, writing an essay for internship help

  1. Nov 5, 2011 #1
    I have four essays to write for my internship each of a maximum of 350-400 words. I just wrote my first essay and I feel relatively content with it. Though I can't help but doubt my work.. I wrote it rather unconventionally you can say. Instead of being very formal, I used more of a conversational (yet professional) method at the same time. Reason is due to not having a stellar application. Would that work? Here is a little information about me.

    3.89 gpa, only up to Calculus I and Engineering Physics I (math and physics wise), at a community college, didn't care in high school so had around 3.0gpa.. and hmm that is about it. I'm applying to Brookhaven National Laboratory and Fermilab National Laboratory.

    If anyone would like, I can put up the essay too. Though I'm worried if people would copy my work??
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2011 #2

    micromass

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    I don't think an essay necessarily needs to be very formal. Whether people like your essay is probably a matter of taste. You just have to hope that it falls in the right hands...

    Putting the essay up would be nice...
     
  4. Nov 5, 2011 #3
    Ahh micromass, I'm glad you replied. :approve:


    Personal Experience
    -------------------
    Describe your professional, academic, or life experience and skills you have that enhance your ability to be an excellent contributing member to the summer 2012 SULI Program. (limit 340-400 words)


    Curiosity… it has enveloped every aspect of my life since my grand entrance into this world, or more accurately, the moment that the gift of consciousness has entailed upon me – whatever that may ultimately mean anyways. To note, this road of curiosity wasn’t one of continuity; rather, it was once almost succumbed by ignorance and superficial thought. My level of curiosity was relatively high as a child, later limited by superficial explanation in my early teenage years, and finally resurfaced as I took my first physics class back in junior high. In retrospect, this is the seemingly ’parabolic life graph’ of my curiosity as a function of time, pun intended.

    Accordingly, with curiosity comes a compelling urge to learn and to peer deeper into the fundamental truth of nature. Even though my passion and current study resides in the incredible world of physics and mathematics, I am nonetheless fond of many other fields of knowledge such as, but not limited to: philosophy, neuroscience, chemistry, biology, psychology, and the list goes on and on. As I oft ask myself in day to day life, what is the bigger picture here; what is the logical connection between these states of affair? The answer to that lies in the very essence of my apparent meaning in life: knowledge. Live to learn, and learn to live—that is my motto! That is the overarching theme of my finite life.

    One of the gifts bestowed upon me by mathematics and physics is the ability to not only step back and look at the bigger picture but also an aptitude for taking things apart and deducing their respective commonality. Aside from an inquisitive mind, science has also fostered my ability of investigating cause and effect relationships. That is, by isolating all the independent variables I can in fact deduce the cause and effect roulette of life, sort of speak. This skill is indispensable to my method of using deductive reasoning on the world around me. Be it a problem with my internet router, a social miscommunication, or figuring out a mistake in my full page of mathematical calculation. Not only do I carry around my skills to the classroom, but I also do so outside the classroom in intimate partnership of analyzing and scrutinizing the world around me, of which the 2012 SULI program would include. It only then seems reasonable to argue that I would make a valuable addition to the SULI program because my skills are interwoven in my day to day life; and in consequence would make a rather smooth transition to your program.
     
  5. Nov 5, 2011 #4

    micromass

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    Haha, I liked the parabola analogy :biggrin:

    That said, I'm not really fond of the first two paragraphs. The first paragraph is about you as a child. But we don't really care about that, we care about you now. What motivates you now?? Why would you need to be a candidate now??

    The second says that you're interesting in a lot of things like philosophy and psychology. This is a good thing, but it might also indicate that you are not serious about your studies. I know this is not the case for you, but they don't.

    I like the third paragraph :smile:

    I think the conversational tone is ok. It doesn't need to be formal at all.

    Basically, they'll have quite a few people applying for the position. Why are you special?? Why should you deserve the position?? These are what they want to know.

    Finally, I see you only did calc I and engineering physics. This is a big disadvantage for you. You need to mention this in your essay. And assure them that you are willing to learn and that you're eager to learn new things. Don't forget things like that!!

    I'm not really good at those things, but I hope I was a bit helpful :shy:
     
  6. Nov 5, 2011 #5
    Actually you were really helpful! I also felt the same way about my first two paragraphs. It felt like a story that starts out lame and builds all the suspense at the end. I need to change things around.

    Also, your right in stating that it is also a negative when stating that I have a lot of interests.. thing is though I want them to get the feeling that I am a thinker and a bit different.

    The second paragraph was based around the same thing as my third paragraph; basically how I always attempt to scrutinize the world around me.. only difference is that it gave a little substance to build paragraph 3 out of. I'll change things around, I don't know what exactly at this moment. And then I can repost it up if anyone is interested in helping.

    Thanks for the constructive criticism! :approve:
     
  7. Nov 5, 2011 #6

    AlephZero

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    I don't want to rain on your parade, and I'm from an older generation than you, but some of this reminds me far to much of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Life_and_Opinions_of_Tristram_Shandy,_Gentleman
    (in which the main running-joke is that at least 99% of the 10-volume fictional "autobiography" is off-topic).

    "my grand entrance into this world"
    "the moment that the gift of consciousness has entailed upon me"
    "the incredible world of physics and mathematics"
    "As I oft ask myself"
    "One of the gifts bestowed upon me"

    Great creative writing if you are trying to imitate a something written in 1850 or even 1750, but you're not applying to join a creative writing class.

    Just my two cents - feel free to disagree completely!
     
  8. Nov 5, 2011 #7
    Haha.. Its the way I always like to write. Maybe I'm delusional, but there is also the chance you've been brainwashed by formal writing. But I'm not an expert and I'm not the one reviewing the essays so what say do I have in this?

    Personally, I think there is nothing wrong with writing with a bit of personality. I don't get the idea of why everything has to be in a generally impersonal and unenthusiastic tone? That's just not me, and I'm not out there to try and be someone who I'm not.

    It would be appreciated if someone can come in and give a different perspective on this.
     
  9. Nov 6, 2011 #8
    I agree with AlephZero. I think it's mostly fluff that you wrote.

    Only in the last 2 sentences did you sort of state that your skills and talents would contribute to the program. "It only then seems reasonable to argue ..." That's not direct at all, because you literally say it's still open to argument (of being a contributing member).

    By reading the requirements of this essay, you broke them into 2 parts.

    1:

    Describe your professional, academic, or life experience and skills.

    2:

    Your ability to be an excellent contributing member to the summer 2012 SULI Program.

    They are not separate; they want a direct relationship of your skills to them. Your essay focuses on your life experience with math and physics. From my old job experience I will tell you up front, I would read the first sentence of this and trash it because you missed the point.
     
  10. Nov 6, 2011 #9
    it sounds like a parody
     
  11. Nov 6, 2011 #10
    I have a lot that I'll change about it, hopefully something will be posted by tonight. Its just I have a bunch of things like an exam coming up.

    By the way, the reason I talked about my life experience with math and physics is because it was an attempt to convey that I am naturally a critical thinker; an essential tool in any research if you ask me.

    Haha.. Okay not very constructive but criticism nonetheless. I'll add much more substance to it, it just I haven't got the time since micromass made his post.
     
  12. Nov 6, 2011 #11
    Sure, if we ask you it's an essential tool and that probably makes sense to scientists and engineers working at the place too. But are you absolutely positive that they are the ones that will be giving this essay the first look? I don't know how national labs work with HR and resumes but if there's a chance that a scientist/engineer will not be reading this essay until a couple rounds then you're going have to be very, very explicit as to why your skills fit their needs.

    If you know any of the tasks that you might be doing at this internship make sure you mention them in this essay. I remember reading a post by ZapperZ about essays for these types of positions. He said that one applicant stuck out a bunch because that person was good at making citations, which I guess is a very useful skill in research.

    Anytime I'm writing these sorts of things I write on a small post the requirements for the essay. That way I can constantly remind myself exactly why I'm writing it. I think that your writing can be great from this example, but you have to convey the reason that you are the person for the internship. Good luck.
     
  13. Nov 9, 2011 #12
    My essay

    To note, my work ethics, perseverance, curiosity, and paradigms have changed dramatically over the years. While a couple years ago I wouldn’t have been able to open a book for more than two hours or so, I am now able to study 12+ hours regularly with relative ease. Throughout my past life, I took part in rudimentary matters as the center of my life. But it has all turned out fruitless, I am tired of following society’s “normal” life; it bores. The pursuit of knowledge is a much more interesting facet of life, and the one I’ve been happily treading since college. Unfortunately, the past haunts me; I am now only up to Calculus I & Physics I as a consequence of my deficient high school habits and lack of educational desire. I hope you can look past that and realize my potential and change.

    In contrast, one of the essential skills I have attained over the years is critical thinking. There are several attributes in cause of that. The self-study of calculus this past summer, of which I am taking this semester, was the catalyst that jumpstarted my ability to think critically in addition to the rigor of proofs. Now self-studying is a major part of my college experience, whereas I was much more dependent of the lectures given prior to that. Currently, I am preoccupied with the study of linear algebra in my free time. This has only become possible because I’ve learned how to use resources to their best capacity; I would wager that independence and critical thought will prove essential in the SULI summer program.

    One of the gifts bestowed upon me by mathematics and physics is the ability to not only step back and look at the bigger picture but also an aptitude for taking things apart and deducing their respective commonality. Aside from an inquisitive mind, science has also fostered my ability of investigating cause and effect relationships. That is, by isolating all the independent variables I can in fact deduce the cause and effect roulette of life, so to speak. This skill is indispensable to my method of using deductive reasoning on the world around me. Be it a problem with my internet router, a social miscommunication, or figuring out a mistake in my full page of mathematical calculation. Not only do I carry around my skills to the classroom, but I also do so outside the classroom in intimate partnership of analyzing and scrutinizing the world around me, of which the 2012 SULI program would include. It only then seems reasonable to argue that I would make a valuable addition to the SULI program because my skills are interwoven in my day to day life; and in consequence would make a rather smooth transition to your program.

    I have little to no knowledge of what I'll do there exactly, everything is so vague to me that I wouldn't be able to gather ideas for it. I'll call the department and ask them some questions tomorrow, lets see if i get a not too vague answer.

    I didn't mean to break anything up in the essay as two different things. By the way, I've showed it to one of my friends [ I consider him a friend but hes an adviser ] and he harshly criticized my essay. It was quite funny actually. He used to work as a counselor to get people in middle-tier and top/ivy league tier universities so he is really helpful. He said he would help me with the essays!!!! =D That is veryyy nice of him.
     
  14. Nov 9, 2011 #13
    If you know anyone in the English department, have them critique your essay. A) It's an outside perspective. B) They can help with grammar and sentence structure.
     
  15. Nov 9, 2011 #14
    1) It's cliche. One absolute rule that everyone should follow when written internship letters is *never talk about your childhood*. It's cliche and irrelevant. One thing that I've wondered is *why* people in this field talk about their childhood so much.

    2) you are talking much too much about yourself. One rule in conversation is talk about the person or organization that you are applying to

    3) No details.

    One big question that you have to ask yourself is what makes you different from the stack of fifty other applicants, and then write about that. The problem with your essay is that it's too generic. Anyone could have written it, and it could be written to any program. You have to write an essay that no one else could have written.
     
  16. Nov 9, 2011 #15
    Don't start out with a negative.

    Don't talk about general philosophy.

    If you don't know what you will be doing there, then why are you applying? What do you want to do there? What are you hoping to get out of the experience? Where did you hear about the program? What goal you are trying to reach?

    One thing that you can do is to answer the questions conversationally, and then rewrite it into an essay.
     
  17. Nov 9, 2011 #16
    Luckily I've made good friends with my two English professors. =D At the moment though I'm getting help from a friend who is now a retired counselor, he wrote 6 books so his control over the English language is top notch! I might send it to another of my previous English professor's though or meet them face to face for advice; I guess it never hurts. But I'll save that to when I have all four essays in hand.

    Hey first I want to say thanks for taking the time to help out.

    In response to what you said: [assuming your talking about the edited essay] the reason I talked of my childhood is because I'm trying to convey that I started out as a student not caring about school but now I've changed. Conveying that I changed is pretty important because it shows why I'm at a disadvantaged spot in physics and mathematics at the moment. More importantly, it shows that the reason I'm at a disadvantaged spot in NOT because I am lazy or don't care about math; but rather due to a late start.

    I have no idea how to go about doing that. Any ideas? This particular essay seems (there are four in total required) to be geared toward personal skills/experience.

    =/

    See the whole problem is that I don't have anything going on for me. I've never cared about education throughout my whole life until I attended college. My current curriculum consists of Calculus I & Physics I in a community college; to add more to the embarrassment it is my second year of college. I've nothing going on for me at all. I mean, I have a 3.9 gpa along with a couple other things such as being on dean's list, Phi Theta Kappa member, etc. But that really doesn't mean anything at all. Truth is I don't have much going on for me. Its not like I have research experience or won a math competition.
     
  18. Nov 9, 2011 #17
    Sounds like reasonable advice. :approve:

    I thought the sentence pertains to research work?



    Eh, I had a tour at Brookhaven National Laboratory with the science & engineering club in my college and I must say I enjoyed the whole feel of it. I just want to partake of the whole research experience, it seems exciting to me. It will also build me a stronger application.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2011
  19. Nov 10, 2011 #18
    To put it bluntly, your essay seems too forced/awkward. I just can't imagine that you talk anything like the style in which you have written your essay. Sometimes, that's all right; we say things and phrase things differently on the fly than when we are formulating sentences. The problem is that if you try to put too much effort into using unusual words or syntax (i.e., "it bores"), I think the reader can tell that your writing is somewhat artificial.

    One pointer that has been immensely helpful to me was to read and follow https://www.amazon.com/Elements-Style-Fourth-William-Strunk/dp/020530902X". I wrote all my junior-level physics lab reports following their general guidelines. Those reports were the first time I had been complimented on my writing. Before S&W, people who proof-read my work always mentioned the wordiness and impreciseness. I now keep a copy in my desk (it is small) and use it when I write important papers (including my personal statement for graduate school) or e-mails.

    You don't even have to use S&W, but following the tips of some popular style manual (New York Times, Associated Press, Chicago, etc.) will help you write a stylistically consistent essay. (Different style manuals promote different styles. Go figure!) The nice thing about following a style manual is that it makes you really consider what the words you write mean.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  20. Nov 10, 2011 #19
    Well that's bad news.. because its actually how my words flow out [somewhat] naturally. Nothing is really that forced. It bores" wasn't anything that I really thought about, albeit I did try to find a couple smart words to help me convey my ideas.

    This is discouraging because the way I'm comfortable writing isn't pleasing to some people here. :frown: I'm starting to doubt my writing ability.

    Thank you, I'll definitly buy it some time in the next week.

    Will keep that in mind.

    By the way, is it the first draft or second draft that you read?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  21. Nov 11, 2011 #20
    Well, I could have pegged you completely wrong. Essays like this serve a certain purpose: you are trying to effectively and succinctly convince them how you are qualified. With that being said, you really should fret over every sentence, word, and punctuation mark.

    No one is trying to discourage you here. Everyone who gives input wants to help you achieve your goals, so we give input that may seem critical or harsh, but we really have your best interest in mind.

    I don't think you are inherently bad at writing. I have read your posts quite often and they all seem well thought out. Either way, writing is hard. twofish gave great advice when he said answer those questions then write up your responses formally after. Hopefully a style manual will help you with that. If this is something important to you, I urge you to go through the essay line-by-line and really consider what you want to say and figure out how effectively you actually are saying it.

    Both. Your second draft was improved, but still lacks topical and stylistic focus. You said somewhere earlier that you feel you may not be qualified (or something along those lines). I understand this, because I applied for internships early in my college career. So, you may not get it this time. At the very least, you have gained some experience with the process and hopefully you can give it another go.

    One last thing - if it is possible, I suggest trying to talk to someone who has done the internship. They can give you an idea of the tone of their essay. Some places want strictly business, others want a combination of motivation and qualifications. I remember NASA's JPL said in their information session that it is very important that applicants show passion in their essays. This is more commonly known as the old "know your audience" adage.
     
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