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Undergraduate Reaearch Internships

  1. Sep 11, 2009 #1
    Hey guys;

    I am in my second semester as a freshman physics major, and I have a 3.8 GPA.

    I am REALLY interested in doing one of those REU as soon as I can. How many people here have done one of these? How hard is it to get selected? What can I do to better my chances of getting on on one of these? I got more questions, but I'll stop here for now.

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2009 #2


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    It can be a bit hard to get one after your freshman year, but it's not impossible. Your best bet is probably to see if a professor at your own school is willing to take you on as a research assistant next summer - you're more likely to get an REU if you've done previous research, either another REU or at your own institution. Other than previous research, good grades, useful classes (math, computer science) and recommendations from professors are important as well. I did research at my own college after my first year, and got into half the REU programs I applied to the year after sophomore and junior year. I don't know how many students applied to those, but the university where I am currently a grad student hosted several REU students this summer - it's not considered a top REU program but we still accepted less than 10% of applicants.
  4. Sep 11, 2009 #3
    Cool, thanks. I figured I would have to wait until my junior year, but I didn't even think about assisting a professor at my school. I will definitely look into that!
  5. Sep 11, 2009 #4
    I recommend not waiting until junior year. Get involved in as much as you can during the summer as soon as possible. I'm more familiar with the business world, where internships are extremely important and large companies take freshman interns regularly. It can't hurt to apply to those either, simultaneously with your research apps.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2009
  6. Sep 12, 2009 #5


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    I would agree. I don't know much about the formal REU program, but lots of professors are still willing to hire on undergraduates for various tasks.

    As a freshman, you are at the disadvantage of not having a very strong background yet, but one of the advantages you have is the potential to stick with a project over several years. One of the biggest reasons why professors don't bother with undergraduate projects is because a single summer is often too little time to make any significant progress on a project.
  7. Sep 12, 2009 #6
    Yeah, well most applications for physics REU's say you have to be at least a junior, and I think some say at least sophomore. I really like the idea of helping out some professors at my school though to gain experience, I am going to start asking around about that.

    I think the NSF REU's look so awesome. As well as getting to intern at a fascinating research project (I really want to do Fermilab or CERN, but I am flexible :wink:), they pay a reasonable sum for living and travel expenses if I understand them correctly.

    Sounds awesome to me.
  8. Sep 12, 2009 #7
    The best thing you can do is be a minority and a woman.

    The next best thing is to be either a minority or a woman.

    After that recommendation letters are the biggest part I think. So if you can work with a prof for a year, and get a good letter from them, I'd say you will have a good chance.

    After that its just luck. I don't think GPA makes hardly any difference.
  9. Sep 13, 2009 #8
    Definitely don't wait until your junior year to apply. I wish I had applied to at least a couple REUs during my freshman year, if only because it would have helped familiarize myself with the process. And if you don't get in, apply to even more programs the next year :D

    If it helps, I know of multiple people who have been accepted into summer positions because of something specific in their application (for myself, it was because I knew LabVIEW and have been programming for years).
  10. Sep 13, 2009 #9
    I wouldn't have any desire to do research in a program that discriminates in any respect other than raw intellectual capacity to do the tasks required.
  11. Sep 13, 2009 #10
    Thats going to eliminate pretty much all your options. :frown: Most of them factor in race and gender.
  12. Sep 17, 2009 #11
    Cool, thanks for the advice. I started looking, and it doesn't appear that there are app's for summer 2010 REU's up yer, so I will just keep an eye out for updates...
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