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Summer Internships Expand Scholars’ Horizons, Part Three

Published September 7, 2016
Missed the first two installments? Find them here: Part One: Lessons Learned and Part Two: Preparing for Graduate School

 

Passing the Torch

While away in summer internships, CSULB BUILD Scholars learned a few valuable lessons they could pass on to the next wave of Scholars.

Gina Vimbela
Gina Vimbela

First, internships don’t happen by themselves. Students need to take steps to make them happen. “Best advice I can give anyone is to make sure you APPLY!” said Gina Vimbela, a Chemical Engineering major who interned at Brown University. “Apply everywhere you may be even remotely interested in attending as a graduate student. Reach out to past participants and program directors to ask questions about what the experience will be like, making you better equipped to choose the best program for you.”

Selina Urfano
Selina Urfano

Selina Urfano, a Microbiology major whose internship was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, suggested opening up your options. “Apply for internships even if you can’t see yourself at that university. Diversify.”

Robbin Nameki
Robbin Nameki

And Robbin Nameki, a Biology major who interned at the University of California Irvine, agrees. “Go even if you are wary of it! You will learn a lot and more than likely come back motivated.”

Monica Robles
Monica Robles

“Definitely look into leaving the state to get a feel for new atmospheres,” said Monica Robles, a Chemical Engineering major whose internship was at University of Texas El Paso, “and to learn what you can from having to be as independent as possible, because that might be the situation when you pick your graduate school.”

Aminha Tamimi
Aminha Tamimi

Different factors that make up an internship include your research mentor, the project you work on and the lab environment you’ll be working in. “It’s very important to know how compatible you are with the faculty mentor and the lab group,” said Aminha Tamimi, a Mechanical Engineering major who interned at University of California Irvine (UCI), “since it’s not so much the research that you’ll be doing as it is the environment that you’ll be working in. I learned to get to know the mentor’s personality, as well as the structure of the lab before selecting a mentor.”

Genesis Gutierrez
Genesis Gutierrez

That said, Genesis Gutierrez, a Health Science major, also at UCI, suggested you should still “Work on a project you are passionate about. It is tempting to mold into the image of the professor, but be true to your passions and do not give up on finding that dream project.”

Lori Digal
Lori Digal

“Look for a group who focuses on something that you are interested in,” suggested Lori Digal, a Chemistry major who arranged for a summer research placement with her CSULB mentor’s collaborator in Dunedin, New Zealand. She also suggested that you, “try to go to a place that you have never thought you would be able to live in. Always keep an open mind, always ask questions and never stop wanting to learn.”

Rhea Addo
Rhea Addo

Once you’ve found some good schools with programs that offer you what you’re looking for in an internship, it’s time to consider your potential mentor. “Mentorship matters,” said Rhea Addo, a Biology major who interned at the University of California San Diego. “While it is very important to join a lab that has research that interests you, in order to make the next step in your research career, you need to ensure that you have a great mentor to get you there. Make a connection with your principal investigator, and don’t be afraid to let them know who you are and what your goals are.”

Finally, “Do not forget to make friends at your internship!” Addo said. “One day in the near future, the colleagues you meet at an internship could be the same colleagues that lead to a research position. You never know!”