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Schools What to do in the summer between undergrad and grad school?

  • Thread starter Dishsoap
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Greetings fellow PFers,

I am a rising senior in undergrad (physics) and am preparing to apply for graduate school for next year. My undergrad institution does not have many graduates that go on to graduate school so I'm in a bit of a pickle as far as advice on this matter goes. I've read some other threads, but would really appreciate some personalized advice.

Anyway, I am just wondering what some of you did in the summer between undergrad and grad school. I have no idea where I'll be going or if I'll be required to attend my hypothetical grad school in the summer (for a bridging program or something), but because of the uncertainty I'd hate to apply for an internship or summer research opportunity. Continuing research at my undergrad institution isn't an option really, since my professors are usually out of the country in the summer.

One thing I expect to hear is "travel the world", since it may be the last time I get to do this. I was actually planning a trip to Europe, however my parents shot this down right quick (a pretty serious disappointment, I was really looking forward to this and have been saving for several months), so it's time to explore other options. And of course, getting paid for something would be ideal. I do have TA experience (TA'd for ~15 sections of physics I, II, and III), but I'm not sure that universities would be willing hire a new grad student as a TA before they begin taking classes.

Please offer ideas/experience/sarcastic remarks/opinions!
 
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I am a prospective doctoral student as well, and will hopefully be just taking it easy, since this may very well be your last summer to do so. Since your a prospective PhD student in Physics, something that may be cool is to take an internship at a electronics or software company (if you're good at programming) to build connections which can help you after graduate school, even if you don't plan on going into software development or electronics (I read once that Samsung Electronics in Korea was looking for Physics majors for Paid internships in Korea). Most grad schools don't start till fall, with very few allowing PhD students to start in the summer for varying reasons (lack of professors at the institution, classes not offered, logistics). Other than that, just take it easy and enjoy I suppose. My idea may seem a bit unreasonable depending on your situation, but an internship should be important as this point - you may not have time in grad school and so building connections early is important. I wish you the best.
 

e.bar.goum

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One thing I expect to hear is "travel the world", since it may be the last time I get to do this. I was actually planning a trip to Europe, however my parents shot this down right quick (a pretty serious disappointment, I was really looking forward to this and have been saving for several months), so it's time to explore other options.

Your parents shot it down? You're an adult, presumably?

You should relax. Do something different to studying. Grad school is not easy, take the time to decompress after finishing undergrad.
 

radium

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It is definitely good to take some time off (a month or two), but a few students I know (all experimentalists) started working in the lab during the summer. It's not uncommon in my program since experimentalists typically start working in lab right away.
 
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Go date hot chicks! Go wild! Soon you will have no life and you will not venture outside of your basement!
 
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I am a prospective doctoral student as well, and will hopefully be just taking it easy, since this may very well be your last summer to do so. Since your a prospective PhD student in Physics, something that may be cool is to take an internship at a electronics or software company (if you're good at programming) to build connections which can help you after graduate school, even if you don't plan on going into software development or electronics (I read once that Samsung Electronics in Korea was looking for Physics majors for Paid internships in Korea). Most grad schools don't start till fall, with very few allowing PhD students to start in the summer for varying reasons (lack of professors at the institution, classes not offered, logistics). Other than that, just take it easy and enjoy I suppose. My idea may seem a bit unreasonable depending on your situation, but an internship should be important as this point - you may not have time in grad school and so building connections early is important. I wish you the best.
That is an excellent idea. There is also a large insurance company in my hometown which pays absurdly well. I will definitely check it out.

Best wishes to you as well!

Your parents shot it down? You're an adult, presumably?

You should relax. Do something different to studying. Grad school is not easy, take the time to decompress after finishing undergrad.
I mean, "relaxing" will be nice for about 2 weeks, and then I'll be bored out of my mind. And yes, I'm an adult, but I also respect my parents and I can understand them not wanting me to go to Europe by myself as a 20-something girl. The safety concerns are justified.
 
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That certainly puts MidgetDwarf's advice in a new light!
Unfortunately, it does.
 
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Why don't you read up a bit on those parts of physics that interest you most. You have time to do those parts of physics that you enjoy, not necessarily the ones you need to do in classes. So use that time.
 

e.bar.goum

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I mean, "relaxing" will be nice for about 2 weeks, and then I'll be bored out of my mind. And yes, I'm an adult, but I also respect my parents and I can understand them not wanting me to go to Europe by myself as a 20-something girl. The safety concerns are justified.
I'm also a 20-something girl, and respect my parents. And they in turn respect me to know how to look after myself. This might be a bit of a cultural thing - I come from a country where it is very normal for people to travel for a year before starting university. Someone travelling for a couple of months after university would hardly raise eyebrows. (And, tbh, most women I've talked to about this agree that of all the places to travel solo, western Europe is a good place, and the place they've felt least comfortable was the US). Either way, during your PhD you'll almost certainly be travelling solo at one point or another.

Could you use the money you've saved up to travel around your own country for a bit?
 
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I'm also a 20-something girl, and respect my parents. And they in turn respect me to know how to look after myself. This might be a bit of a cultural thing - I come from a country where it is very normal for people to travel for a year before starting university. Someone travelling for a couple of months after university would hardly raise eyebrows. (And, tbh, most women I've talked to about this agree that of all the places to travel solo, western Europe is a good place, and the place they've felt least comfortable was the US). Either way, during your PhD you'll almost certainly be travelling solo at one point or another.

Could you use the money you've saved up to travel around your own country for a bit?
However, just because everyone else does it it does not mean others have to follow suit.

To OP, even though you're mother may seem overprotective, she at least cares for you. Other people are not lucky to have someone worry about them. Going on a trip can be a good experience, however one must ensure their is extra money to do so. i.e., it will not be an economical hindrance on you're parents, you will not use the money to pay boarding and utilities, maybe money should go for getting dental procedures or any other medical procedures for that matter. A trip is a commodity not a necessity.

Do what you feel is right. Even studying and making sure you have no gaps in your knowledge would probably be the best use of that time.
 

e.bar.goum

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My parents didn't even want me to go to New Mexico, and I'm from a Mississippi and 20 years old. I went anyway because it's not like traveling outside of the country, but I understand exactly where you are coming from. I would look into some internships or keep saving for Europe. One physics major at my school (really the only physics major that actually cared about school) is doing an internship at Corning this summer before grad school.
 

jtbell

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Heh. The summer after graduating from college and before graduate school, I had all four of my wisdom teeth taken out. :-p Fortunately, my parents paid for that, knowing that they wouldn't have to pay for my grad school. Sort of a "parting present", so to speak.
 
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I'm also a 20-something girl, and respect my parents. And they in turn respect me to know how to look after myself. This might be a bit of a cultural thing - I come from a country where it is very normal for people to travel for a year before starting university. Someone travelling for a couple of months after university would hardly raise eyebrows. (And, tbh, most women I've talked to about this agree that of all the places to travel solo, western Europe is a good place, and the place they've felt least comfortable was the US). Either way, during your PhD you'll almost certainly be travelling solo at one point or another.

Could you use the money you've saved up to travel around your own country for a bit?
That is simply awesome. The reality of the matter is that I could go to Europe for only slightly more than I could travel in the U.S., plus I have done quite the extent of travel in the U.S. where I've been to every state. Of course there is still plenty left to be explored in the US, but I'd really like to give Europe a try. As far as the parent thing, they've always been a bit overprotective.... I tend to test the waters a bit, but I'm not sure if Europe would be too far. However, one of my closest friends is interested in going with me, so we'll see how that pans out.

I don't know how picky I can be, unfortunately. I would like to find a good internship or summer job, but I was kind of looking forward to being done with summer programs. I'm doing an REU now living on the best place on Earth (Boulder!) but I still can't help but count down the days until I can go home again. I guess I'm just a bit shy or something, but I'd much rather stay at home. But then again, I'd go insane if I had to work in retail again just for a summer job. And the unfortunate thing is that I can't apply until I know what I'm doing for graduate school, which narrows down my opportunities quite a bit.
 

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