First you might be wondering, "Should I apply? Will I even get accepted?"
The answer to the first question is always "Yes" and the answer to the second is "Maybe not, but the only way to ensure not getting accepted is if you don't apply at all". So apply, and apply to a bunch of programs that interest you at a variety of different places. Six is a reasonable minimum number in my mind. Even still maybe you won't get any offers the first year you apply, thats OK. Try again the next year, but make sure to improve your application materials. Have someone (like me) look at what you are writing.
Great so you are applying, that means you are a student looking for a letter of recommendation!
If I have had you in a class and/or we have done research together I would be happy to write a letter, just shoot me an email or stop by my office and ask! Once I have agreed to write a letter there are a few guidelines to follow and things I would like from you to ensure I can write the best letter possible and get it submitted correctly and on time. These things are especially important if you are going to need multiple letters for multiple graduate schools or internships.
- Talk to me as soon as possible before the deadlines, ideally at least one week before! More time is definitely better.
- Provide a list of (make a copy of this google sheet by going to "file" --> "Make a copy . . ." and share it with me using the "Share" Button. Be sure to give me the ability to edit the document):
- all the letters you need from me,
- the position you are applying for,
- the due date, and
- how the letter should be submitted
- specific information which should be included in the letter, if any
- if they expect a form to be submitted in addition to or in place of a normal letter.
- The URL to the internship/graduate program description
- The topic, person, or field your are interested in at the program
- Your unofficial transcript, and
- the resume or CV you are submitting as part of the application
- A copy of any cover letter or statement you submitting
- (rough draft is ok and only necessary to provide if the application calls for one. Similarly if you are applying to multiple places the letter from just one is find.)
Please send me an email with all of these materials. If after you have given me these materials, you decided to apply to additional places, please send me an updated list (item #2). You do not need to resend your transcript & resume. You can essentially just update the google sheet and then send me an email that you need more letters.
Why do I want all theses things? First to make sure I don't miss a deadline. Second to make sure I can align my letter with the program and your interests, skills & experiences. Basically to try and write the best letter I can!
Need help preparing your materials? Examples of cover letters and resumes? Check out these sites:
In general I have three recommendations when preparing materials.
- Make sure you explicitly address any questions or topics referred too in the job posting
- Be specific. Refer to specific personal experiences and skills and to the specific job you are applying too
- Be clear and concise. Keep you cover letter and resume to one page each. Latter in your career two pages is fine, but now keep it to one.
- Be professional. I'll ways goo 100%, and if you think you are being overly formal (i.e. using letter head, formal saluations etc.) then you are doing perfect.
If you are looking for internships to apply for, here are a few places to start your search (I would check out the ones in bold first)!
- http://stemundergrads.science.gov/ - list of all internships for undergraduates which are supported in some way through the federal government
- http://www.compadre.org/student/ - list of internships compiled by AIP, AAPT and APS
- http://jobs.spsnational.org/jobs/ - Internships compiled by the Society of Physics students
- https://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/index.jsp - search the database of NSF funded Research experiences for undergraduates (These are university based).
- http://scitechmn.org/ - listings of internships at business in Minnesota (These are industry based).
- https://intern.nasa.gov/ossi/web/public/main/ - NASA internships. Many different fields, some run year round, others in fall, spring and summer.
- https://www.pathwaystoscience.org/programs.aspx?adv=adv - search engine of programs that will let you filter programs according to their citizenship requirements.