Not a Typical Internship

By: Kirsi

The word “Internship” may invoke an image of a flustered undergrad fetching coffee and copying documents with the goal to endure an unpaid summer stint. In reality internships and other career building opportunities come in all shapes and sizes – and are often paid. Continue reading for enlightenment about alternative career building opportunities.


Full Year Internships
In my previous post I compared internships and Co-Ops describing an internship as a single semester opportunity. However, there are, in fact, year-long renewable internships out there! For example, some private companies contracted by NASA Johnson work all year long. These year-round interns work full time in the summer, and part time during school. Some full year interns have the same benefits as Co-ops, but with an opportunity work part time during school. On the government side, year long opportunities are currently being offered by NASA for 2017. October is not to early to apply for full year position at your desired company or organization.


Built by UMD Senior in Electrical Engineering.

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) is a unique way to get a taste of academia, conduct research in a team and  work on projects related to your major. Often these opportunities are funded so you will have money for materials and a paycheck. University of Minnesota Duluth has a collection of unique UROP opportunities and world class research projects. One effort in particular that stands out is Dr. Desineni Subbaram Naidu and his research team’s robotic prosthetic arm. Undergraduates, master students, and PhD candidates have all worked on the prosthetic arm team, there is even a TEDx Minneapolis talk about the research. Each semester there is a window open when students can propose an idea for a UROP for funding or join an existing UROP group.


Photo Source: Unsplash | Nick Karvounis

Job Shadowing
If you are not yet prepared for an internship or not certain about your major, job shadowing can be a good tool for building confidence in you career choices. Asking a desired organization about job shadowing is a low risk way to quickly find out if you are interested in a discipline of work. Before confirming I wanted to study computer science I job shadowed at Park Nicollet for a day to see how information technology applied to the healthcare realm. I thought the challenges of personal information security, big data, and merging of databases was interesting and kept my major. When approaching an organization about job shadowing they may suggest you take a tour of the company building instead which may expose you to jobs of many disciplines. While job shadowing and touring are not paid they may open doors to paid career opportunities.

Do not fret if you do not fit the summer internship mold, there are plenty of alternative career building opportunities that fit with your lifestyle and life goals.

Of Possible Interest

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3 Steps to Get Involved in Research as an Undergraduate

By: Glen

Some of you may have heard that doing research is a great way to get experience and to build your resume. There is truth in those statements! I would definitely advise all students to conduct undergraduate research if you have the opportunity. The first step is where I usually get the question, “How do I get that opportunity?” Depending on your department and where you go to school, the methods can differ. Fortunately, there is an underlying theme for which to approach the situation.

Research as an undergrad

Be Proactive With Academics

My advisor was thoughtful enough to share with me why he allowed me to join his research team sooner than I probably should have. Even as a first semester sophomore without having took the recommended classes yet, my resume showed that I had the potential to be successful. If you are invited to join honor societies, take that invitation. In my personal situation, being in an honors program may have been the key to the gate. My advisor was impressed to see that I was maintaining high grades while being active in other facets of the university.

If the whole honor society thing is not your gig, do not worry, there are other ways to show your professors that you are a fully capable student. One option is to be involved in an academic club or clubs. For me, that was the Psychology Club. Another option would be to participate in some sort of organization that serves the community. This could be the city community or the university community, it does not matter. If your grades are good and you can show that you are being active with your life, you have a much better chance of being accepted into research opportunities.

Find the Opportunities Available to You

While you are maintaining your grades and being active on campus, it is important to think about what you want to research and why. Find some question that you honestly care about answering. Research is a big commitment of time and energy. You are going to need to care about the subject.

There can be multiple ways to get into research once you have a research idea. Here at the University of Minnesota Duluth, we have a number of labs who hire students as paid research assistants. Do not forget to look at the student employment website to check if there are positions open in your research area of interest. In addition, we have the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) for students who have the yearning to write a competitive grant to research their own ideas. Wherever you are, do not hesitate to find what is available to you.

Talk to Your Professors

Once you know what is available to you as a student, you need to make a connection in order to get into a lab. Whether the first contact is an interview or an email, you are going to want to have discussions with the person you are going to be working with. Personally, I started my research experience with a professor because I was interested in the linking of personality and behavior research. The semester in the lab taught me a number of things about the research process, which I enjoyed greatly. Later, I returned to the same professor with my own research idea that was sparked from a class I was taking at the time.

Glen research
Look where I ended up! It was pretty fun.

A great way to find research opportunities on campus is to check what the faculty members in your department are studying. Your faculty members are highly trained, and will definitely know more about current research than you do.

So, there you have it! Maintain your grades, see what is available, and dive in to the research. If you get enough experience, you may find it will get easier and easier. It is never a bad thing to get that first time experience out of the way early, especially if you are going to graduate or professional school.

Of Possible Interest: 

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