Not only are internships very important in terms of resume building, but it can be so much more than that! Internships are great places to network with colleagues in your chosen field and to gain a unique perspective on the inner workings of your discipline! However, as great as that may sound, I remember feeling really overwhelmed when searching for internships during my junior year of undergrad.
Well, fear not! Because finding internships is actually quite easy if you know where to look. Of course, I say this with the small disclaimer that these tips are mainly centered around STEM internships in the US, but hopefully these tips can at least lend a hand to anyone looking for a cool experience for the summer.
So, I’m going to separate my tips into separate categories!
If you are interested in beginning or broadening your research experience, I would suggest checking out this database listing Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs). This database is run the the National Science Foundation (NSF) and can essentially help you narrow down a list of REUs based on your discipline(s) or even preferred location! Once the website generates a small list for you, it then gives you the websites of the specific programs where you can go to in order to find out more information and download the applications of those you’re interested in.
You can also check out the website of your major’s department. Most of the time school departments advertise research opportunities that occur both on and off campus for their students. This is another means to find a good research gig to do during the summer or even during the school year!
Though REUs and research are fun, they usually take place in some sort of academic institution. So, if you don’t want to spend your summer at another university, another option is to get an internship in a particular industry or government lab. To do this, the easiest thing to do is to look up specific industries or government labs that do research in your field. Once you find their website, usually you can look under the employment/ careers tab and search for various internships that way. For instance, if I wanted to work at a pharmaceutical company like Bayer, I would look at the Bayer website and click on their careers tab. From there I can search around a bit until I find the internships or student careers tab which will lead me to any information on open positions! It’s similar for most other well structured and up-to-date websites for companies and government organizations.
Another route you can do is look up the website for the main organization in your field. For chemists or chemical engineers, this is the American Chemical Society (ACS). If you’re a physicist you can check out the similarly named American Physical Society (APS). Or, if you’re a computer scientist or engineer, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is the place to go. All these websites have an a list of internship and job opportunities somewhere in their website, granted sometimes it may take a few minutes of searching. Protip: Check their “careers” or “education” tab first if you’re having a bit of trouble. You’ll probably find at least a reference to internship opportunities somewhere in these pages. Of course, you can never go wrong googling “[Company] Internship” or using the websites search bar.
Speaking of Googling, probably the easiest way you’ll find an internship of any sort is simply by searching: “[Your Major] Summer Internship.” When I first tried this, I admittedly did it out of desperation, but the search results surprisingly showed a few places I actually considered applying to, as well as a handful of different databases that can point to in the right direction and narrow your search a bit.
Of course, you can never go wrong with word of mouth. If you’re tired of looking through databases and out-of-date websites, I suggest talking to professors and faculty at your school. Most of the time they either know of different internship programs or can at least tell you who you should talk to in order to get the information you need. And of course, you can never go wrong with just walking into your university’s career center!
Welp, that about covers the different places you can find internships as a STEM major! Of course, since we’re talking about finding internships here, I am also going to make a shameless promotion of this NASA internship that I did as an undergrad. Please go check out the link if you’re interested in seeing how STEM majors can be used in the interdisciplinary field of earth science.
Best of luck to all your future interns! If you have any questions or feel like I missed something important, let me know!