Undergrad Interested in Research? Consider NSF-REU Programs!

*NOTE:  Event on Tuesday 11/5 related directly to this post!
The National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) Programs Panel, Tuesday, November 5, 2013, 5:30 – 6:30 PM, Raisler Lounge, 2nd Floor Towne Building, 220 S. 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA
(Open to UPenn students, with faculty presenters from UPenn and Temple U., information from CHOP’s program, as well as Q&A with student panelists who have worked across the country in REUs)

Considering research this summer, in the future, or for your career?

A research-based experience is one of the primary ways in which undergraduate students – including freshmen – can gain experience and knowledge beyond the classroom, most especially in the early years of their education.  While many opportunities exist throughout the year – on campus with faculty, in labs, as part of nearby facilities like HUP and CHOP, among many other places – a few special programs exist in the summer months to help students gain specialized research experience.

A prestigious option to consider is the National Science Foundation-sponsored “Research Experience for Undergraduates” programs – NSF-REUs for short.

NSF-REU experiences offer a multitude of benefits to participating students, including the opportunity to:

  • work in small, diverse yet focused groups with noted faculty on novel topics
  • complete guided and independent research in areas including:
    • economics
    • engineering (a variety of fields available including nanotech, clean energy, biomedical, chemical and others)
    • ethics and values studies
    • mathematics
    • physics
    • sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, and others)
    • social sciences (psychology, criminology, diversity and inclusion, social aspects of hurricanes, anthropology, sustainability, politics and political science, civil conflict management,
    • technology (cyberinfrastructure, Department of Defense, etc.)
    • and more!
  • be published in well-respected publications and return to school with impressive projects to add to your resume
  • receive a highly competitive salary (referred to as stipends, typically ranging from $3,000 – $5,000) and often also receive additional funding to cover housing and/or meals
  • participate in fun activities organized by the site host
  • and more (benefits vary by location)

Sites can be found right here in Philadelphia, at UPenn, CHOP, and Temple U., as well as across the country and around the world (there are even polar research sites in the Arctic!)

Click on the below link to see a list of topics and find your site within.  Most students apply to more than one program, and individual requirements and deadlines (which can vary) are included on each program’s page as the site updates it.


If you’d like to speak with a Penn student who has done an REU or any other type of research, be sure to use the Penn Internship Network to search, or attend the panel in 11/5/13!: http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/undergrad/pin.html

Best of luck in your search for a research opportunity – it’s a surefire way to build a great resume and potentially launch a lifelong career!

by Jamie Grant, C’98, GEd ’99

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Don’t Leave School Without It!

Graduating students, don’t leave Penn without setting up an Interfolio account through Career Services. This on line credential/reference management system offers you the opportunity to store letters of recommendation, and have them mailed whenever you apply for graduate school admission, jobs or special programs in the future.  This is the ideal time to ask current professors, your advisor, or others you have worked with for a recommendation.  Let the author of a letter know what your future plans may be.  Have a discussion with them to determine their willingness to write a recommendation for you.  More detailed information is available on the Career Services website:  How to Ask for a Recommendation.

Please go to www.interfolio.com. Follow the instructions for opening an account and learn how the system works.

Pre-Health applicants will continue to use the Career Services Credentials system.

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Learning from Grad Students About Graduate School

Peter Stokes

An essential part of figuring out if you are really interested in graduate school, and getting advice about how to get there, is to talk to people in the field that you want to get into. If you want to get a Ph.D., it’s vital to talk to faculty in a relevant field. If you’re considering an MBA, for example, it makes sense to talk with people in the industry you plan to go into, to investigate what the MBA will do for you, if there are specific programs to be recommended in your field—and even if you will actually need the MBA at all.

It’s also an excellent idea to talk to current graduate students in the field you’re interested in. They have been through this process of making decisions, and submitting applications, quite recently, after all. They can share their experiences of that—and also let you know what life really is like as a graduate student. A superb resource for Penn undergraduates who want to connect with graduate or professional students at Penn in any of a very wide variety of fields is the Graduate/Undergraduate Mentoring Program, run out of the Graduate Student Center. If you go to www.gsc.upenn.edu/mentoring you’ll find information about the program, and the form to fill out if you want to be assigned a graduate student mentor. It’s a terrific way to meet and learn from someone doing what you hope to do.

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Day in the Life: Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth and Family Services

What is it really like working in a state-wide nonprofit network?  Maggie Potter addressed this on Tuesday, March 13th. Get insights into this field in preparation for  the Philadelphia Nonprofit & Government Career Fair at St. Joseph’s University on Tuesday, March 20th. Post your questions to our Facebook page or send us a tweet  to @PennCareerServ or @PennCareerDay.   Maggie will answer them directly. Read more about Maggie below and check out her insights on our Storify page where her tweets are available.

Maggie Potter graduated from Williams College with a Bachelor in Psychology in 2004. Following several years of working and soul searching, including a stint abroad in Nepal and a year as an Americorps VISTA in Boston, she landed at Penn for a dual Masters degree in Social Work and Social Policy. She graduated in 2011 and now works at the Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth and Family Services, a statewide membership association of nonprofits. She works closely with non-profit leaders, public officials at the state and local level, and foundations to advocate for better policies and practices for children and families involved with the foster care, juvenile justice and behavioral health systems. In her free time she enjoys traveling the world, reading, baking and doing yoga.

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Laughter is the Best Medicine for a Sluggish Dissertation

Julie Vick

The first thing I wrote for the Career Services blog was “’Makes ‘Em Laugh:’ A Comic a Day Gets the Dissertation Written.”

In that little piece my goal was to help current doctoral students take a break from their research and writing to laugh at Piled Higher and Deeper, a comic strip that documents the humorous, and not-so-humorous, aspects of grad school.

Now, more than two years later, Jorge Cham, the author who started writing the strip while working on his PhD at Stanford, has to his credit four published books, a movie (which was shown at Penn this past fall) entitled “The Power of Procrastination” and an online store full of T-shirts and mugs with such PhD-pithy sayings as “Grad School: It seemed better than getting a real job” and “The Origin of the Theses”.

Undergrads who are considering graduate education: Piled Higher and Deeper can help you get an interesting read on your possible future.  For first-time readers, there’s a page to check where you can learn about the characters and link to the most popular strips.

As I said last time, not only are the comics themselves great to read but so is the fan mail:

“Oh God, it hurts! It’s all so true, and so evil! I can’t tell whether I should be laughing or crying in sympathy” -Chemistry grad from Caltech

“Your comic strip rocks!  I’ve decided not to go to grad school.” -Electrical Engineering undergrad from Yale U.

“Everybody in my lab loves your work. The songs help soothe the hurt when my experiments fail and I think about the next 6 yrs here” -Microbiology grad from NYU

You can join a mailing list to be notified of new strips.  So once again, I advise, “Give yourself the gift of laughter and spend a little time with PHD!”

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