Maximize your Experiences

Graduate programs and employers now expect competitive candidates to have a minimum of two significant experiences (internships, research, volunteer work) before applying to a graduate program.

Summer research is a great way to meet that expectation; it’s also a smart investment in your professional development. You’ll network, get hands-on experience, develop professional skills and contacts and get a taste of what graduate school might be like.

Make the most of the opportunity.

Be strategic

Before you start:
  • Introduce yourself to the faculty mentor you’ll be working with. (Set up a meeting if necessary)
  • Convey excitement and motivation.
  • Ask for relevant literature to help you prepare.
  • Take online training in lab safety (if applicable).
  • Research the university and program/department where you will be working.


During the program:
  • Immerse yourself in the project. Read. Ask questions. Be an active member of the research group.
  • Meet with your mentor and/or supervisor regularly.
  • Attend all events coordinated by the program and research group.
  • Network! Meet with other faculty and staff in your graduate program of interest.
  • Learn about the program, requirements, benefits offered to students, etc.
  • Explore the city and learn about the community outside of the school.
  • Ask your mentor for feedback on your work.
  • Work on your academic and personal statements.
  • Ask about the possibility of presenting your work at conferences and/or meetings.
  • Discuss the possibility of authorship on a manuscript with the faculty mentor.
  • Express your interest in the program and ask for any advice for applying.

Follow up

After the program:
  • Send thank you notes.
  • Stay in touch with your faculty mentor.
  • Express your interest in graduate studies.
  • Ask for a strong letter of recommendation.
  • Ask your mentor(s)/supervisor for feedback on your application.
  • Ask for recommendations for other academic and professional development opportunities.
  • Get involved in research at your home institution.
  • Look for opportunities to present your work at conferences or forums.