Internships are a fantastic way of gaining tons of experience. They can help your application for your first job, or graduate studies application stand out. The most common types of internships include:
NIH Supported Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF).
Another great resource for undergraduate internship programs is through the Pathways to Science.
Other Government or Industrial Internships. MACRO has assembled a list of other internships you may want to consider.
The hands on experience is invaluable. You can learn useful lab skills, analytical skills, as well as develop soft/translatable skills such as problem solving, communication, and leadership. If you enjoy your internship with a private company or REU site there are really high odds oof you being offered a job with the company after you graduate or accepted into their graduate program.
REU vs SURF vs Other Internship
REUs are generally offered across the whole spectrum of areas supported by the national science foundation (NSF), which essentially means all STEM disciplines. The NSF has an excellent resource to find REU internships. NSF research experiences for undergraduates (REU) program, You can search by topic, location among many other ways. Since NSF supports essentially all STEM areas, you are likely to find a REU site that aligns with your interests. For work in polymer science and engineering, it is important to note that an appropriate REU site may be in a chemistry department, a materials department or an engineering department. So make sure you keep your searches broad, especially if you’re interested in polymer science and engineering directorate.
Since SURF internships are supported by the NIH, their focus tends to be more health science and biomedically oriented. However, there are so many things polymer scientists and engineers have contributed to health care, check out our videos on the topic. Finding SURF programs is a little more tricky, but definitely check out the AAMC resource on the topic. Your skills in polymer science and engineering could be really critical to developing new vaccine delivery systems, tissue engineering scaffolds, regenerative medicine approaches, among so many others.
What materials do I need for an internship?
This Depends on the internship opportunity, but in general you can expect the following materials will be requested:
Online application content and applicant information
Resume / CV
Letters of Recommendation (Typically 2-3 are needed)
For more details on these application materials, see the section on crafting a competitive graduate school application.