Applying to summer programs can seem like a daunting task when you may not even know what you want to do next summer. The busyness of the semester certainly hasn’t created a ton of time to be thinking about these things! Fortunately, winter break is a great time to work on applications to summer programs, as many of the earlier applications are often due early in the year. Having prepared them beforehand can ease a lot of stress, since the middle of the spring semester isn’t the most convenient time to be starting these applications. These timelines can vary by field, so it could be a bit different based on the type of program you are applying to—the career center has a great timeline of internship recruitment that is sorted by field so you can see the differences. Regardless, it’s great to work on these during the break when you don’t have courses.
You may be looking for something far away, here in Princeton, an industry internship at a company, or a research program at a university. Regardless of if you know exactly what you want to do or still aren’t sure, here are some tips to help you sort through this process.
Last summer, I went abroad on a fully-funded internship doing astrophysics research at Cardiff University, in Cardiff, Wales, UK. This experience not only solidified my career decision to pursue astrophysics research, but also gave me a unique immersion into Wales and Welsh culture as well as the broader United Kingdom. If you are curious about research abroad, read on!
When doing research as an undergraduate, sometimes the work you are doing and topics you study may be very familiar to you, other times you may be totally unfamiliar with what is going on. Maybe you even have some previous experience but the topic of the project is way above anything you’ve done before—you might be working with a physics professor on something really advanced like quantum field theory or condensed matter, which you have never taken a class on and are expected to now work on and understand what’s going on during your project. This can happen a lot in any field, not just STEM, where your professor may have spent years studying something that you are expected to contribute to after having taken maybe a few classes in it, if that. Some professors may work more often with graduate students, so they may assume that you know “basic” things about your field that you as an undergrad have just encountered for the first time: you could be working with an Art History professor who focuses on Late Antiquity, and they start throwing around terms and common symbols that you aren’t able to easily recognize.
Regardless of the circumstances, this situation comes up a lot in undergraduate research. The fortunate thing is that tons of professors are willing to work with students who have no prior experience in the subject, but you still have to wrestle with “catching up” as you try to somewhat understand anything that you’re actually doing. Here are some tips to try to get acclimated with difficult, unfamiliar topics that may be well above your current depth as an undergraduate.
A guide of first steps for women-identifying undergraduate students stepping into research
As we step into the new school year, woman-identifying undergraduate students across campus are looking to take their first steps into research. This process can be new, daunting, and sometimes, downright terrifying. It’s scary to step into a room where you are the first, the only, or both. That’s why it’s imperative to support women-identifying students in empowering research communities, advocating for their learning goals, and asserting themselves in new research settings. For allies, there are also important ideas shared by woman-identifying researchers about the best ways to support their success.
We may have wasted no time getting back into the semester after spring break, but just two weeks ago, I was exploring Denmark as a part of the class “Making the Viking Age.” This trip marks the second time I have been lucky enough to travel internationally as part of a class here at Princeton; last fall, I also visited Rome as a part of a group of students who took the Western Humanities Sequence during our first year. With course selection just around the corner, I highly recommend keeping an eye out for courses that include travel, as they have been some of the most academically enriching experiences I have had in all my education thus far.
On campus, Nal Xaviera ’25 is a member of Engineers Without Borders: Kenya, Community House After School Programs, and an assistant for the Visual Resources Department.
College is a wonderful place to explore your interests. It’s a time to meet new people, engage with different disciplines, and explore what you’re truly curious about. Perhaps one of the most apt examples of such opportunities is the Office of International Programs’s International Internship Program (IIP).
Winter break is long and much-needed. It is a time to relax, rejuvenate, and reflect on the semester. In this post, I will give advice on how to make the most of the next few months, but I recognize that you know yourself best and should choose to spend your break in whatever way makes you happiest. Without further ado, here are my takeaways from the last 3 winter breaks:
When most people think of summer, they think of warmer weather and longer days filled with newfound time to relax, travel, or to try something new. However, for many Princeton students, one summer topic that might be a source of both excitement and stress is summer internships. The summer can be the ideal time to pursue opportunities related to your interests in a more hands-on way, and summer internships provide (potentially paid) opportunities to do so. Many internships also provide avenues for Princetonians to do extensive and meaningful research, which, given the pace and workload of a typical Princeton semester, may be difficult to find time for during the academic year between classes and other extracurricular commitments.
The internship search process may be overwhelming, especially for freshmen and sophomores, who are still learning about the abundance of opportunities that Princeton has to offer. This post focuses on setting yourself up for a successful internship search by outlining popular programs, resources, and deadlines to ensure that you are able to find experiences that will enrich your (summer)time at Princeton. This list is not exhaustive and focuses on internships that include aspects of research, some combined with community service and professional development.
In the summer of 2021, I participated in a virtual global seminar in Cyprus entitled Conflict, Borders, Multilingualism, Translation. I was particularly drawn to the idea of learning about Cyprus’ history and culture through the lens of multilingualism and translation. Personally, language has always played a key role in my understanding of identity and culture. Three languages are spoken in my home (Filipino, English, and Chinese Hokkien), and growing up in this way has made me very conscious of language-culture influences, code-switching, and nuances in connotation.
Applying to this global seminar was a spontaneous decision; I major in MAE and am more used to spending my summers doing research and technology. However, when I read about this seminar in an email, I knew that it aligned with my personal interests in the social sciences. Because of the great time I had during the seminar, I am writing to motivate people to take advantage of the breadth of courses offered by Princeton and try studying something totally spontaneous and new!
Haider Abbas ‘17 is a Princeton alumni who recently published his inspirational senior thesis which he created while in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. Many Princeton seniors are now beginning to dive deeper into their theses, therefore I think that hearing from Abbas would be very helpful. Thankfully, a few weeks ago, I was able to interview Abbas and he offered key insight into why he chose his thesis topic, how he was able to produce his thesis, and most significantly the impact that his thesis will have beyond his years at Princeton. I hope that you can learn from his experience and develop a thesis that you feel passionate about!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.