Is it better to do summer internship abroad?

huyphan93
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:35 am

Is it better to do summer internship abroad?

Postby huyphan93 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:48 am

I am a junior at relatively small liberal art college with no physics reputation and only got my hands minor research experience at my own institutions. Recently I was offered a summer internship at Fermilab and the Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics at Griefswald, Germany, but I don't know where should I go. It's a pretty crucial time for me to improve my qualification for graduate school and I don't want to mess my only major research experience up. I kinda want to study particle physics, but I heard that the field was selective and it might be risky in the future, while Plasma physics seems to be a safer (definitely interesting as well) choice(? I'm not really sure) so I am having a hard time deciding. Would an abroad experience more appealing to graduate school folks though? What would be the advantage of doing internship at Fermilab vs Max Planck Institute? I'd love to hear you guys' opinion.

Thank you.

P/S: I'm an international student btw

TakeruK
Posts: 817
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Is it better to do summer internship abroad?

Postby TakeruK » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:04 am

Sometimes you don't have to do research in your subtopic in order to be in grad school for that subtopic. For an international student, if you want to do graduate studies in the US, it might be more helpful to make more US connections/references etc. Just another thing to consider too.

blighter
Posts: 256
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:30 pm

Re: Is it better to do summer internship abroad?

Postby blighter » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:16 am

huyphan93 wrote:P/S: I'm an international student btw



Are you an international student studying in the US?

huyphan93
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:35 am

Re: Is it better to do summer internship abroad?

Postby huyphan93 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:19 am

blighter wrote:
huyphan93 wrote:P/S: I'm an international student btw



Are you an international student studying in the US?


Yes I am, and I am planning to continue graduate study in the US as well

huyphan93
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:35 am

Re: Is it better to do summer internship abroad?

Postby huyphan93 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:21 am

TakeruK wrote:Sometimes you don't have to do research in your subtopic in order to be in grad school for that subtopic. For an international student, if you want to do graduate studies in the US, it might be more helpful to make more US connections/references etc. Just another thing to consider too.



I think you're right. It's better to develop meaningful connection within the US. Btw, do you think that it's more favorable to apply for the field that you had previous interaction(albeit a little) with, or is it not a major factor at all?

TakeruK
Posts: 817
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Is it better to do summer internship abroad?

Postby TakeruK » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:49 pm

I think if you are already in the US now, then it might be less important to stay in the US for the summer internship since you would have plenty of US connections from your undergrad. But it would still be good to have more connections in North America/US in general, if that is where you want to stay. I am from Canada and considered a PhD in the UK and Europe but among other reasons (difficulty of getting funding for non-UK or non-EU people), people advised me to stay in North America and build deeper connections if I want to end up with a job on this continent!

I think it would help to have something related to what your grad school plans are, but not absolutely necessary. But this might also depend on the subfield. In undergrad, I did 8 months work on a cosmology project, 8 months on medical physics, my thesis on astronomy/planetary science. I did a Masters on astronomy/planetary science, that is a bit similar to my undergrad thesis. My PhD program is also in astronomy/planetary science. So, I think having proven experience is helpful, but not all of your undergrad experience needs to be in the same subfield. In fact, profs that saw my PhD applications commented on the broad research background in a positive way.

I think you should do the research project that interests you more because that will also usually end up as better research. I think at the undergrad level, research experience itself is the most helpful thing, not necessarily the topic of your research. If you like what you do and want to continue at graduate level, then great. But if not, don't feel that you are only limited to applying to graduate programs based on your choice this summer!

huyphan93
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:35 am

Re: Is it better to do summer internship abroad?

Postby huyphan93 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:26 pm

Thank you for your detailed advice. I really appreciate it. I have decided to get the Fermilab internship after considering my situation.




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