Summer undergraduate physics opportunities are available in basic research, applied research, engineering, public science policy, and more. Many of these programs have common traits:
See the links below for some possible opportunities. Note that this list is definitely NOT exhaustive, there are certainly many more programs and internships you can find by searching the internet. Note also that some of these links may not yet be updated for the summer of 2017 applications.
Help! There are too many options - how do I know where to apply?
Yes, there are a lot of options - apply to anything that looks interesting to you. It will take some time to sift through the many programs, so start looking soon and make a list of the possibilities.
Help! These programs look too specialized!
Yes, most programs ARE specialized - the idea is to learn what it is like to focus intensely on an advanced field of study. Don't worry, they understand that you are an undergraduate who is motivated and eager to learn, but has a typical undergraduate physics background.
Help! I'm afraid these are too competitive!
Yes, they are competitive - so make many applications. Some programs might be more selective, depending on: if a place is somewhat famous (Princeton, Caltech, NASA, etc.), if the location is somewhat exotic (Hawaii, Paris, Chile, etc.), if they receive a high number of applications (because the website comes up first in a search, or the website looks flashy and exciting, etc.). But you won't know until you apply. Try the following strategy:
Help! They all seem to require US citizenship!
Yes, it is true that many programs require US citizenship or permanent resident status. You can often find this information quickly by searching for "Eligibility" near the application information. A few programs that might be open to non-US citizens are listed separately below. In addition, many of the REU programs have funding available for non-US citizens, but you will have to go to each program's website to find this information.
Help! These all seem like research positions, but I'm interested in interning at a company!
Yes, most of the links are for academic or government institutions - they tend to have programs that are similar from year to year and easy to put in a list. There are some industry internship links listed separately below, but you might have better luck searching the internet or looking at the CSB/SJU Career Services website. But even if your long-term goal is working in industry, a research summer experience can teach you a lot and help expand your resume.
Help! I'm waiting to hear about my first choice program, but I have an offer from another internship or summer job!
That's a good problem to have - if you are really being forced to accept/decline an offer somewhere else and can't wait any longer, try writing a polite email to the contact person of the program you are waiting for. Explain your situation, and ask if there is any way that you might learn about your standing in the application process. What's the worst that can happen?
Wait - do our students actually do this in the summer?
Yes, in recent years our students applied their physics knowledge and skills to a variety of summer jobs. A partial list includes:
National Science Foundation (NSF)
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Department of Energy (DOE) programs
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Other programs (not part of NSF-REU, NIST, NASA, or DOE)
Industry related programs
Programs that might have openings for non-US citizens
There are definitely more possibilities than just the list below - be sure to look at other programs as well (especially the REUs). If a website is not clear on citizenship requirements, try sending an email to the program's contact person for clarification.
Other lists of programs
The following links point to additional lists - many of the programs on these lists are duplicates from above, but it is worth looking through for more options.