Undergraduate Internships

This summer I was given a fantastic opportunity. LMU sponsors an internship with the University of Tennessee and I was chosen to be a part of it! At this point I am only two weeks in, but I wanted to write this post to tell you guys what it’s been like so far.

My first day of work was the Monday after I arrived home from my vacation. Being nervous on your first day of a job always seemed really cliche to me, so I figured I would be cool as a cucumber. However, the second my hand touched the door to the building I work in, I was shaking like a leaf. Once I met my advisor here, it became much less intimidating. She gave me a tour of the building I would be working in and even showed me to my personal work bench in her lab. I was assigned to the Entomology and Plant Pathology department at UT, and I was given a research project to facilitate. Unfortunately, because it is in progress and is work that hasn’t been studied before, I can’t disclose exactly what I’m working on just yet.

I can, however, tell you some of the things I do at my internship. For the most part, I am in the lab setting up tests and experiments, running the experiments, and collecting the data I receive. I also spend quite a bit of time in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources library doing literature reviews and research concerning my project. 

In addition to my lab work at UT, I will also be participating in some field work as well. For this portion of my internship I will actually travel to West Tennessee to a place called Ames Plantation. This is a large stretch of land owned by the university on which they carry out quite a bit of field work. I will spend a week here observing specimens and collecting behavioral data. I will also spend some time at Ames hand-collecting some specimens from the ground to bring back to the lab on UT’s campus and conduct experiments on.

So far, I am thoroughly enjoying myself. I am also getting valuable job experience in both the field and lab environment in the process, which is quite crucial for pretty much anyone seeking a job after college. I didn’t know much about internships at all until one of my professors approached me and asked if I would be interested in working at UT over the summer.

For anyone that is in college or plans on attending college, I cannot stress enough how beneficial internships can be. There are tons of them available to you, but you have to search for them. Another thing I would recommend is that you start your internships early. Many internship opportunities are open to all grade levels, even incoming freshman. These internships give you excellent job experience, and they will also provide you with important contacts. These contacts can be huge helps in finding a job in the future, and they may even turn out to be your future employer!

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “If an internship is so important, how do I find one?” If so, you’re in luck because I’m going to share with you my method of internship searching.

  1. ASK ASK ASK! This probably the most simplistic method of finding an internship, but the most underused. Don’t be afraid to ask one of your professors if they know of any internships available. The worst they can say is no.
  2. Do Research! Even something as simple as a Google search of “Undergraduate internships in (insert study area here)” would be more than sufficient. Believe me, Google is your friend.
  3. Use Your Resources Wisely. There are several online databases that are created for the sole purpose of students finding internships in their fields of study. One of these databases that I really like is REU. This site lists hundreds of University-sponsored internship opportunities available to undergraduates. Each of the internships is at a different university where you will stay the summer and assist a professor with his or her research project. To be considered for each position, you need only to submit an application they provide on their website.

I hope that this post was helpful to all of you, and I can’t wait until my project is over and I can tell you more about it! In the meantime, follow my blog if you aren’t already doing so, and I’ll see you next time!