Pictured: beaches. Glorious, glorious beaches. You too could spend your summer doing physics by the sea if you plan ahead. This is the skyline of Haifa, Israel, hometown of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, whose physics labs have balconies overlooking the Mediterranean.
START THINKING ABOUT THE SUMMER WHEN THE FALL SEMESTER STARTS. Application deadlines come and pass very quickly! They are as early as October for many programs.
Opportunities abound for research and travel! Here are just a handful of the many places we’ve worked in 2016:
- Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri, USA)
- Stanford University (San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA)
- MIT Lincoln Laboratory (Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
- University College London (London, United Kingdom)
- Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen (Munich, Germany)
- University of Heidelberg (Heidelberg, Germany)
- Technion- Israel Institute of Technology (Haifa, Israel)
A partial listing of summer research opportunities is listed on the research page (we’ll continue to add more as we hear of them). The pages linked to below contains links to many of those opportunities as well as hopefully some more related to physics/math/engineering. Most if not all jobs, internships, and research experiences listed here come with a stipend or salary and some additionally cover travel expenses and housing. Be sure to double-check application deadlines; this webpage may not be current.
If earning money to pay for tuition is your main goal, apply for internships in finance or software engineering. Average starting salaries for your first internship at a company range between $15,000-$25,000 per summer, sometimes with a housing stipend included (versus the comparatively “low” physics research salary between $4,000-$8,000 per summer). You’re a physicist, and that is a respectable major for looking at these positions; as long as you have enough math and computer science background, you probably can pass the entrance examinations for these jobs too and get some interviews (maybe chat with the Career Center if you’re unsure if your resume is good enough). Whether this is an advisable route to take depends on your current experience, how much money you need to make this summer, and the type of resume you need to build to meet your goals —
To get into graduate school with tuition remission and a good stipend, you absolutely have to have experience doing research, the more, the better. But everyone understands the need for money, so one missed summer of research is not the end of the world. But how much will each choice affect you? If you’ve never tried research before and this is your senior summer, not doing research could greatly hinder your ability to get into grad school without taking a gap year to do a research internship. If you did research during high school and take a finance job before freshman year, there’s likely zero negative impact, except perhaps what your resume looks like when you apply to research positions in the future. In between? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Speak to a physics professor or older students if you have questions.
No matter what, over the summer, you should be trying to participate in at least some volunteer work, a program, or an internship – whether research, programming, policy, education, learning a foreign language or other skill, or even something wildly different or random because you’re miserable with what you’re doing right now – that will help you figure out what you want to do and help you get there in the future. Explore your options now. Build your resume. And prepare yourself to know what types of jobs, graduate schools, or gap year programs you’ll be applying for in fall of senior year.