This summer, Argonne National Laboratory will once again offer undergraduate internships, including the Student Research Participation program. This undergraduate internship opportunity enables students to conduct exciting research into key STEM fields related to the U.S. Department of Energy’s mission science, while also connecting them to a vibrant community of students and STEM professionals.
“There’s nothing quite like being part of an internship experience at a national laboratory, and the Student Research Participation program is a great example of how students can realize their full STEM potential,” said University Student Program Coordinator Robert Schuch. “Argonne internships show undergrad and grad students that their STEM fields are being utilized every day for new discoveries shaping the modern world. By challenging our interns to tackle complex scientific endeavors requiring creativity and dedication, and by simultaneously welcoming them into our energetic learning community, we help them push forward to become the next generation of STEM leaders.”
During the first week of the internship program, students work with lab staff members and their mentors to develop a plan for their research over the course of the summer. While the mentor may provide essential guidance and support, students must make their own research choices, requiring them to think creatively and use scientific reasoning alongside trial and error to advance their theories and discoveries. Through these firsthand research experiences, undergraduates get to step into the shoes of STEM researchers and envision real-world pathways for their own STEM capabilities.
The Student Research Participation program and other internships create diverse opportunities for students to become part of Argonne’s community. One such opportunity is our Learning on the Lawn symposium. During this event, students’ research presentations are featured on the west lawn of the campus. There, Argonne employees engage with students about their work, similar to a professional conference.
In addition, Argonne offers many lectures, career guidance, and social events for interns. “We want students to make the most out of their summer, and we encourage them to form new connections and learn new things throughout their internships,” said Schuch. “These activities engage interns with a dynamic STEM community linked to numerous institutions around the globe, creating a network that will support their future STEM journeys.”
Throughout the years, Student Research Participation interns have expressed great satisfaction with the whole experience, appreciating the unique opportunities that Argonne provided them in their STEM development. Julie Nguyen, who was studying chemical engineering when she interned in 2018, shared her enthusiasm in a video during her internship. “I really enjoy the hands-on experience,” she said. “The tribology group is so fun. If I don’t know something, I can definitely ask them, but they also give me a lot of autonomy, too, so I can run my experiments – and I’m allowed the freedom to plan out my day. I’ve enjoyed doing so much with the material science, and I’m seriously considering doing more material science for grad school.”
Summer 2021 applications are currently being accepted for this internship program and other Argonne-funded internships until the deadline on March 1, so undergraduates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. In addition to the online application, students must submit two letters of recommendation. Also, they must be currently enrolled full-time at an accredited U.S. institution and have completed at least one year of schooling by the start of the program. All 2021 internships will be offered in a virtual format.
“The immersive student engagement found in internships such as the Student Research Participation program create a unique experience that you won’t find elsewhere,” Schuch said. “That’s why we strongly urge students to apply for these programs. No matter what STEM area you are curious about, Argonne can further develop your passion and show you what it’s like to be a world-changing scientist.”