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WELL-PAYING physics summer internships?

  1. Feb 9, 2005 #1
    hey all, i'm writing to see if anybody knows of any lucrative summer internships in physics. i'd say i'm a pretty employable and interviewable guy, and i'm looking to score a well-paying internship while i've still got the grades. right now i'm a sophomore double-major in physics and math at MIT with a 5.0/5.0 GPA. i've also worked with professor paul schechter on gravitational lensing programs, and done some mathematical modeling work in a fluid dynamics lab, so i think i have some pretty good credentials (right now at least, we'll see how the semester goes!)

    however, i've been looking around and it seems many of the internships at places such as SLAC, PARC, or similar REUs only offer about $3000 stipends + housing and transportation in some cases. an undergraduate research position here at MIT would probably net me the same pay, and i could probably get one relatively easily. however, the cost of housing and living away from home doesn't seem like it would be worth the hassle either here at MIT or another institute, although i would be gaining a lot of useful experience. that in itself would be enough for me, if it wasn't for the fact that all the comp sci majors around me with less than perfect GPAs are landing $5000-$12000 internships.

    so i need some advice on other positions to consider; i've looked into areas such as quantitative finance, but i'm not sure if i have the mathematical background for that. any suggestions? thanks!
     
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  3. Feb 9, 2005 #2

    ZapperZ

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    Consider this as an early indication of what you will often see later on - that what you will earn will typically be LESS than those who have attained a similar educational level but in a different major such as engineering and CS. If this bothers you, it is time to evaluate your career choices.

    I have already described at length summer internships opportunity at various DOE's Nat'l Labs in my essay (read the Sticky), so I will not repeat myself here. All the interns that I've talked to were more than happy with the (i) stipend they received, but more importantly (ii) with the experience and the "prestigue" they get (it is highly sought-after) especially when they fill out their grad school application.

    Zz.
     
  4. Feb 9, 2005 #3
    Definitely, the experience you gain is much more valuable than the pay. I am currently applying through the IAESTE, http://www.IAESTE.org (I'm filling the form as I type this) they offer placements abroad. You'll probably have missed the deadline though but maybe next year..
     
  5. Feb 9, 2005 #4
    thanks for your replies guys. zapperz, your journals have always been interesting reads. i've already applied to SLAC and los alamos through the DOE's SULI program, i believe that is what you are referring to.

    don't get me wrong, i love doing physics and math, and i'm not looking to score huge paychecks in my future. my only concern is that it might not be quite financially feasible for me to take these internships right now. also, i've seen unexperienced people land well paying internships with companies unrelated to their field of study quite easily, probably purely for the fact they go here. i was just wondering if anyone knew of any good companies in the industrial sector doing work related to physics that might pay better than some of the NSF or government funded programs.
     
  6. Feb 9, 2005 #5

    ZapperZ

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    In general, DOE/NSF/Nat'l Lab's internship, grad. RA'ship, postdoctoral appointment, etc. pays more than universities and industrial labs. I know, I had experienced all three in various different settings. But the prestigue and "door-opening" opportunities that you get while working at those Nat'l Labs have values significantly more than the pay. This I can say without any hesitation based on my personal experience.

    Zz.
     
  7. Feb 9, 2005 #6
    Check out Sandia National Labs , new mexico and california too. They have their own Student Internship Program (SIP). They pay for travel to and from, do NOT pay for housing, but you get paid a decent amount. I believe as a junior I was getting paid 17.50/hr, and as a senior 21.00/hr. If you figure you work for 12 weeks, thats about 8400 or 10,000 for the term (respectively). Cost of living is low in albuquerque,nm. You can get a studio apartment fully furnished for under 500 a month. So you're looking after taxes and housing to be bringing in about 5200, or 6500 depending on status. Im not sure what the exact pay is for a sophomore though. Might be the same or just a little less.
     
  8. Feb 9, 2005 #7
    thanks for the suggestion healey. i've looked into sandia before, as they are conducting some interviews here at MIT. however, their listing specified areas such as engineering and geophysics which i'm not that strong in, so i didn't submit my resume. the pay sounds great, though, so i checked at their website, but it seems they don't have any undergraduate positions open.

    zapperz, i can't find any DOE programs or NSF REUs that offer more than $4000? however, if i do score the SLAC or los alamos positions i'll probably take them, just for experience.

    thanks for your suggestions though guys, keep them coming!
     
  9. Feb 9, 2005 #8

    ZapperZ

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    I just went back to the DEP division website here that runs the Argonne undergrad internship program.[1] They give a stipend of $400/week, round-trip reimbursment to and from your home or educational institution, and lodging. So the only thing you have to pay for is food. I've had a couple of undergrads working for me under this program, and both of them thought the stipend was more than enough when compared with what was provided.

    But let's be clear here - one is not supposed to be able to make a living, or retire on such things. So the concept of "well-paying" internships is rather strange, when the whole point here is the internship itself, with the stipend being used to support basic necessity of living. Where Argonne is situated, $400 per week is way more than enough to survive on, and survive well too.

    Zz.

    [1] http://www.dep.anl.gov/p_undergrad/summer.htm
     
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