Summer Chemistry Opportunities

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Maintained by Harry E. Pence, Professor of Chemistry, SUNY Oneonta, for the use of his students. Any opinions are totally coincidental and have no official endorsement, including the people who sign my pay checks. Comments and suggestions are welcome (

Last Revised December 11, 2003

One of the more useful activities that can supplement your college education is either a summer internship or a summer research program. This experience often gives you a perspective on your chosen profession that is much different from what you have seen in your college classes. At best, this experience can fire you with new enthusiasm for your major field and make contacts that will lead to a full-time job when you graduate or to a rapid transition to graduate school. Undergraduate research experience can also provide an edge when seeking entry-level positions in the chemical industry or professional school. At worst, this experience may help you to discover some type of job or industry which you truly hate, and which you wish to avoid when you are looking for a full-time job. In either case, the resulting knowledge may be invaluable

Sometimes companies near where you live may hire summer interns, and in some cases the school where you are normally enrolled will have summer research programs. Since both of these possibilities will allow you to live at home, financial considerations may make them especially attractive. When looking for a job near your home or school, be sure to tell as many people as possible what you are seeking. Sometimes helpful contacts come from unexpected directions. Talk to your professors, contact local industries, and look in the want ad section of the local paper. It is often worth while to send a letter to the human relations office of near-by companies and ask if anything is available.

Students who do not need to earn extra money in the summer or who wish to travel will find a number of excellent opportunities to see a different part of the country and also participate in an internship or summer research fellowship. The National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Program is an excellent resource. Watch for posted announcements of summer research opportunities on the Chemistry Department bulletin board. The Cirrus web site is an excellent list of undergraduate research opportunities and other information as well as a Yale University undergraduate research site that offers some other possibilities. The Sonoma State University Dept. of Physics and Astronomy Summer Research page gives mainly positions in those disciplines, but now and then a program in chemistry, biology, or materials science in included. The gateway to Sonoma State also leads to other information that may be useful for someone looking for a summer job. The ChemStudent site offers links to either NSF summer programs or industrial coop programs. Despite the name, the Chem Intern site offers a mixture of summer internships, postdoctoral programs, and other information. It may take some searching to find summer internships, but there is also a site search feature that may be helpful.

Opportunities for high school students seem to be much less extensive. The best known source is probably the ACS Project Seed, which is designed for economically disadvantaged students (annual family income < $27,000). Another valuable experience during your undergraduate career is an internship. The WWW is not a very good of a source of information on scientific internships, but there are a few nuggets if you look hard enough. The best possibilities seem to be in the environmental area. The NonProfit Career Center Internship page gives many useful links, although mainly in environmentally-related fields. Be aware that internship web pages seem to be even more fluid than average, and so there is a good change that some of these may be dead links by the time that you check them. There are several organizations that list at least some environmental internships, including Green Dream Jobs, the Environmental Careers Organization, the EnviroLink Network (go down the left hand column to progressive Career Opportunities" and click n find a job/internship, and the Ubiquity Environmental Internships page. Information on agriculture-related internships is found at the International Agribusiness Internship Center (IAIC) at Utah State University. If you do, a search on the Utah State site using chemistry or chemical as the search terms, you should find that there are a few internships in chemistry-related areas. The JobMonkey site doesn't list as many positions as some of the job sites listed on the industrial page. The main advantage is that it does focus more on summer jobs, which makes it another alternative for someone looking for a summer position. The jobs listed are probably most interesting to a biologist, since they focus on nature-related activities in National Parks and Forests, Alaska, Hawaii, and several foreign countries. (Look under the Outdoors listing and don't be distracted by the ski resorts and casinos! :-) When I visited the site (April '99), it seemed to still be under development, with many incomplete sections.

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