Summer internship programs are available just about anywhere (MU, other Universities, state and national government, industries and corporations, international programs, etc.) Ask your faculty mentor, advisor, or fellow students/graduate students about opportunities and connections. If you thinking about applying to a summer research program, consider the following questions before applying:
- What are your current goals?
- What are areas of interest, faculty, or types of institutions that you would like to pursue?
- What will you contribute to a program? What unique experience do you possess?
- What are your personal priorities, preferences, and/or limitations?
- Where do you want to live, work, or study after graduation?
Example programs for undergraduate researchers
|Programs at MU
|Programs outside of MU
|Programs through Government, Industries, or Corporations|
“How/When should I apply?”
- Begin looking for opportunities early!
- Deadlines and timelines vary.
- Many summer applications open in Nov/Dec and have deadlines in Jan/Feb.
- Application process will depend on type of experience.
Common application components:
- Unofficial or official transcript
- Personal statement and/or career goals
- Letter(s) of recommendation
- List of potential mentors/project interests
- Abstract from prior work
- Project proposal
- Relevant research and/or internship experience, and any publications or presentations given
- Service or volunteer experience, especially if relevant to career goals/interests
- Demonstrated attributes, skills, and accomplishments that you gained through classes, labs, training, etc.
- Campus or professional organizational involvement and leadership roles, in particular
- Honors, awards, scholarships, other accolades
- Aim to convey a clear and thoughtful picture of yourself
- Information about prior research, internships, and jobs
- Career interests and future plans
- Why this area of research/interest is important to you.
- What draws you to this internship? What unique features, experiences, or faculty are you most excited about?
- Relevant and significant academic or personal information
TIP: This is not a descriptive narrative. Clear, concise. Avoid clichés. Frame mistakes as a learning experience.
Letters of Recommendation
- Oftentimes, an application will specify who should provide your letter(s) of recommendation
- Typically, a faculty mentor, a department faculty member who knows you well, etc.
- Depending on the program/experience, not a graduate student, TA, or high school counselor/teacher
TIP: Build relationships and ask early!
- Vary in length, 1-3 pages. Be mindful of word counts.
- Should demonstrate understanding of the context and rationale for the planned project/research.
- Should be well-informed – citations are valuable (3-6)
- Clear, concise, and compelling communication of an idea. Should be your own writing, though mentor likely will help to develop and frame idea.
- Visuals, if appropriate and as necessary
- Follow recommended outline or guidelines.
- Typical outline:
- Introduction: topic/background, statement of problem, big picture/context
- Purpose: questions to be answered, hypothesis to be tested
- Methods: research approaches (and why!), type of data collected, analyses, activities
- Expected Results/Significance: what results may tell us, how it may help our understanding of a question/problem
- Involvement: what you will do, specifically
- Reference List: citations, references
What are selection committees looking for in an application?
- Your potential as an intern, and if you will be an asset to the team
- Attitudes, behaviors, and maturity that will make you an asset to a team
- Knowledge, skills, ability, and qualifications necessary to work effectively in the designated role
- Work ethic and maturity
- Academic/experiential knowledge
- Knowledge of required skills, techniques
- Problem-solving skills
- Critical-thinking skills
- Written (and verbal) communication skills
- Ability to work alone and in a group
- Ability to learn from feedback
- Persistence and grit: learning from failure
- Attention to detail
- Aligned, broader career interests
- Understanding of program and its requirements
Tips: Preparing for On-Campus Applications
- Get experience with a faculty-led project or research.
- Identify a faculty mentor for your application well in advance.
- Meet regularly with your mentor to begin discussing potential project proposal.
- Identify potential recommendation letter writers and build/enhance relationships.
- Go to class! Academic grades matter.
- Include prior research/internship experiences in your personal statement.
- Make sure to request letters from research/project supervisors and/or mentors.
- Think about how this opportunity impacts your career goals and why it is valuable. Include this in your personal statement!
- Use your limited space wisely – highlight/include meaningful involvement, experiences, and work.
- Share your application with your faculty mentor prior to the submission deadline.
- Check in with letter writers 1-2 weeks prior to application deadline to confirm timely submission.
- Apply to multiple programs and opportunities – some applications will have similar components that can be re-packaged.
- Note the timeline for review and selection decisions.