Research Summer 2019 - What are my Options?

Not everyone does an internship during their summers - conducting research in your field is also a great option.  There are two types of research that Olin students can participate in, and this article will take a look at why you might want to do research, what the options look like and tips for the application process.

First, why would I want to do Research instead of an internship?

Some students like to do a mix of internships and research during their summers.  Others deliberately pursue research experiences because they know they are grad-school bound, and are interested in digging deeper into a particular technical area, learning from professors and grad students, and building upon the coursework and project experiences they have done at Olin.  Having research on one’s resume is a great signal to a graduate school program that you are serious about pursuing a graduate degree of some kind in your chosen field.  Additionally, doing research in a traditional institution is a good idea if you are considering pursuing a PhD.  It’ll allow you to get a glimpse of life as a grad student, and will help you figure out if conducting research and being in school for the next four or five years is something you might enjoy. 

Research at Olin

This option is quite popular with students, often in their first or second year, who want to live and work on campus for the summer. In summer 2016, we had about 50 students conducting research with our faculty. To start the process, it is a good idea to talk to professors with similar interests to yours and find out if they will be doing research in the coming summer. Although many faculty will not know if they have funding until next semester, they will likely know the areas of research they will be working on and how many people they may need.

What’s An REU? 

Hint: ‘Research Experiences for Undergraduates’

Two quick notes:

  • PGP will be hosting an REU Party Thursday, December 6 from 12:30-1:30 in CC 316. This will be a working session where you can learn more about REU’s and begin to apply.  Please bring your computer. We will also have REU Alumni available to help guide you through the process. Please email Suzanne if you would like to attend.
  • Sorry, REUs are for US citizens or permanent residents only.

REU positions are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and take place at institutions all over the country. Most applications open on December 1, with deadlines in late February or early March. To look up what programs have received funding from the NSF, click here.  Once you determine programs that look like good matches, you may want to search on the individual university websites to gain more information. As part of the application process, students must fill out a form for each REU they apply to and acquire at least 2 signed and sealed letters of recommendation (please allow 2-3 weeks for faculty to complete these), your official transcript and a statement of interest (limited to 2 pages) on why you would make a successful researcher for the specific program.

Suggested timeline for REUs:


  • Begin Thinking about where you want to live, what you want to work on
  • Narrow by location
  • Narrow by Program
  • Narrow by where you want to go to Grad School
  • Make list of programs you are interested in and check their websites regularly
  • E-mail professors at other institutions about their research so you can get an idea of the programs you want to apply for.  (Alumni and PGP can help you find these people)

Winter Break:

  • Apply for 8-10 REUs 
  • Remind Olin Profs about letters of recommendations

Important Dates:

  • January 1 – first rounds of due dates
  • February 15 – 2nd round of Due dates
  • March 1 – 3rd round of Due dates

You could start hearing back from the programs as early as February.  Don’t fret though, mid to late March is also reasonable. 

Options other than Research

Research may not be for everyone, but don’t despair if you have not figured out what to do for summer 2017. There will be more Career Fairs during the Spring Semester (February 13 – combined career fair and start-up fair; March 13 – non-profit fair and April 10 – Start-up Spotlight with Babson and Wellesley). There will also be lots of company info sessions and tech talks.

Another option to consider is working on campus for one of the Administrative Offices. PGP and several other departments will be posting their openings during the spring semester.

Posted in: From the Staff