So you're interested in a STEM career? Welcome to the fun world of problem solving, critical thinking, and creatively technical solutions! During my Instagram takeover of @girlgeniusmag, I offered myself as a resource for high school and college students looking for STEM internship opportunities. While I have a background in biomedical research, I think it's important to support young and eager learners interested in all STEM disciplines.
Follow me on Instagram! I post about my life as a Ph.D. candidate, my STEM interests, and personal style for Women in STEM!
As a first generation college student, I know how important it is to have a place to start when looking for opportunities to gain career experience. A lot of the time, we have to do the work ourselves: apply, pursue, connect. I've done my fair share of cold-emailing and applying to research programs, and I wanted to give other students, especially women in STEM, a resource to help them navigate their STEM journeys. So, here is a list of STEM internship opportunities for high school and undergraduate students!
OPPORTUNITIES FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
High school is a great time to start career exploration. Exposure is the best way to identify STEM careers that resonate with you, align with your passions, inspire you! Both my undergraduate and graduate schools (Rochester Institute of Technology & Johns Hopkins University) have great comprehensive lists for research opportunities and science internships across a variety of fields (astronomy, physics, biomedical science, engineering, environmental science, and more).
OPPORTUNITIES FOR UNDERGRADUATE COLLEGE STUDENTS
During my time at Rochester Institute of Technology, I was on the hunt for undergraduate research experiences. My first instinct was to email professors with labs and inquire about available undergraduate research positions. This is a great route to gain experience at your undergraduate university -- and I highly suggest emailing/inquiring about undergraduate research positions at the beginning of your freshman year. Unfortunately, in my case, all the labs I contacted were not able to take another undergraduate student. That didn't stop me!
I also applied to summer undergraduate programs -- every summer -- using the exact lists I've linked below. While many programs give preference to students entering their junior and senior years, I still suggest applying to build relationships with those writing your recommendation letters and to get used to the process.
Deciding on a Ph.D. program? Here's my advice!
RIT provided STEM students with lists of internship and research opportunities for undergraduate students, and I'm sharing it with you because it is about as comprehensive as it gets! I've shared each of the pages -- organized by STEM field -- to make it easier to navigate. Some pages also include additional links to additional lists of programs.
Know of another opportunity you'd like added to this list? Broken link? Leave me a message on Contact page.
EMAIL RESEARCH PROFESSORS TO INQUIRE ABOUT RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES
If you're looking for research opportunities with a lab - locally or virtually - you'll want to reach out to a Principal Investigator (PI, a professor running a lab) via email. It might seem strange or uncomfortable to email a professor you don't know, but let me remind you, you won't know until you ask! Professors are used to getting emails from students looking to further their education and experience. I encourage both high school students and undergraduate students to inquire about opportunities that excite you.
HS students: I've had high school students intern/volunteer in one of my previous labs so it's possible. You just need to find a PI who accepts high school students and can pair you with a lab member. Don't be discouraged by a lack of experience!
Template for emailing a professor about academic research opportunity in their lab:
Hello (Dr./Mr./Mrs/Ms.) (Last Name),
I am a year student at (university majoring in major OR name HS). How you found out about the professor's research. Expression of interest in specific paper or topic. I would appreciate the chance to talk with you about your research in topic of interest and about possible volunteer opportunities in your lab.
I am interested in gaining more laboratory experience to develop my research skills and work toward goal. I have attached my CV/resume/unofficial transcript (pick either CV or resume, not both. Use whichever you have available).
I know you are very busy. We could schedule an appointment or virtual meeting. Do you have any availability within the next two weeks? Please let me know if there is any other information I can provide. I look forward to talking to you soon.
Fill in the bolded words of the template with the information most relevant to you.
If you are interested in virtual research due to COVID-19, make sure you mention that and/or inquire in the second paragraph. "Given the current circumstances with COVID-19, can available opportunities be adapted to a virtual format?"
You can use this as a template for emailing other STEM professionals about other research/volunteer opportunities.
Here are some other great tips to consider when drafting your email: https://ugr.ue.ucsc.edu/email
Finding and landing opportunities requires persistence. One "No", one rejection, one unanswered email does not mean you are unqualified! Continue to reach out to professors, ask for suggestions and apply to programs. It took me three years to land a position in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.
You can read more about my STEM journey in these posts:
Make sure you've subscribed to my email list and are following me on Instagram to stay up to date with my style, science, and social adventures.
Until next time,