My Advice for Getting Started on that Research Internship

My Advice for Getting Started on that Research Internship
2020-07-17
Getting started 1) Do your research:

The school of psychology is full of talented people, all with their own specific set of interests. Take your time to read what everyone specializes in and figure out what you’d like to learn more about. When you find someone, you are interested in working with read a couple of their publications, so you feel comfortable talking about their work with them. You don’t have to be an expert!

2) Don’t be afraid to have opinions:

After deciding on who to contact (I recommend finding 3-4 people) email them! The email should clearly state why you are interested in working with this person. Do you have a specific topic in mind that you would like to explore? Is there something particular about this professor’s work that you want to learn more about? How does working with this person fit into your future plans? For me, working with my supervisor was a goal of mine because I wanted to gain experience in motion tracking and her research in visual perception and grasping. You should give enough detail that you make it clear you’ve put some thought into your email while being brief enough that the professor can read and reply to you in a couple of minutes. I recommend an opening line, introducing yourself; name, year, and major and a 5-6 sentence paragraph stating your interests in working with them and why. Ask to meet to discuss any possible internship opportunities as the last thing before signing off. Meeting your new superhero

3) Re-read some key topics:

If a professor offers to meet with you, they are probably interested in having you work with them. If they stated a topic they’re working on in their reply, make sure to read up on that topic before your meeting. (again, 2-3 papers are enough!) You do not need to be an expert but showing interest by being able to follow some basics of the topic discussed will only help you in the long run.

4) Underestimating your abilities aren’t always a bad thing:

When it comes to time-management and commitment to an internship - regardless of whether it is term-time or not - stay conservative when estimating the amount of work, you can get done per week. It is ALWAYS better to finish a project (design, data-collection, analysis, etc) early and impress your supervisor than be halting a couple of days behind the whole time. It gives you peace of mind and it helps your supervisor stay on track as well.

5) Applying for scholarships/funding:

There are a host of scholarships available, especially for summer internships. The university provides information about some of them, but there are many more out there, if you are willing to put in a little more effort on google. Scholarships can have very specific requirements and they can have pretty much no requirements at all. Make sure you meet the criteria to apply so you don’t waste precious hours on an application that will get denied before anyone even reads it.

If you and your supervisor decide to go ahead with scholarship applications, remember that putting in a few extra hours to write the perfect application pays off. Don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor for help but do try on your own. It’s a great opportunity to write up funding applications for the first time!

Kamilla Bonnesen graduated in July 2020 with a BSc in Psychology

Published by The School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen

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