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Published on August 8th, 2011 | by Carl Mundy

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Summer 2012 Internships & Experience Guide for Undergraduate Students (Updated 12/01/2012)

In this article Carl shares some of the work placement and internship programmes offered by companies, organisations and institutions throughout the world for physics undergraduates for the summer of 2012, as well as providing some hints and tips on how to maximise your chances of successfully applying…

Gaining hands on and and real world experience during the course of your undergraduate degree course is well on its way to being considered equally as important as the class of degree you graduate with and can set you apart from any other candidates that apply for the same position as you. In short, gaining experience during your degree can give you an advantage after graduation whatever path you choose, be it staying in education or searching for employment – even if the experience has nothing to do with your degree subject!

Student Opportunity Directory

Carl Talks Physics has compiled a detailed list of some of the opportunities available to, although not limited to, physics-based undergraduates in the United Kingdom that wish to gain experience during the summer of 2012.

The below list will be continually updated and added to as we discover new and exciting opportunities over the coming months, so please bookmark this page and revisit it on a regular basis! Get applying and good luck!

Contents

  1. Astronomy
  2. Engineering & Defence
  3. Business & Finance
  4. Marketing
  5. Particle Physics
  6. Science Journalism
  7. General Programmes
  8. Other Institutions
  9. Application Hints & Tips
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Astronomy

University of Leicester – SURE Summer Programme
Description: ‘SURE is a six-week summer programme which will support up to eight undergraduate students to undertake research within the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester. A range of projects will be available in the fields of astrophysics, space science, and condensed matter physics.’
Conditions:
  • Attending a UK University
  • Completed at least 1 year of your science/mathematics degree
  • You are an undergraduate
  • Good academic record
Duration:
  • 6 weeks during the summer
Support:
  • ~£250 per week less tax and NI
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: January 2012
  • Applications Close: 2 March 2012
More Info:  SURE Summer Program
Oxford University – Summer Students
Description: ‘Students will work with a supervisor in the department, usually a postdoctoral researcher or lecturer, on a self-contained research project, with the idea that progress can be made during the summer. There will also be some lectures on current astrophysics topics. Students are encouraged to take part in department life, joining researchers for coffee, discussions and seminars.’
Conditions:
  • In second year and above
Duration:
  • ~8 weeks during July to August
Support:
  • ~£180 per week stipend
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: Early 2012
  • Applications Close: March 2012
More Info: Oxford University – Summer Students
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Engineering & Defence

Atomic Weapons Establishment – Undergraduate Sponsorship Programme
Description: ‘Our undergraduate sponsorship programme is an excellent way to lay the foundations for a long-term career at AWE. If you are in the penultimate year of your university degree/PhD or college course (or the year before your sandwich year), and you have the right set of qualities, you can apply. We look for students who are studying a field of science or engineering that is relevant to our work here at AWE and who are keen to develop their skills.’
Conditions:
  • In the penultimate year of your university degree/PhD course
Duration:
  • n/a
Support:
  • Salary of £15,130 plus all the usual full-time benefits such as annual leave, pension scheme, which includes life assurance
  • Other bursaries available
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: NOW
  • Applications Close: February 2012
More Info: AWE – Undergraduate Sponsorship Programme
Babcock International Group – Summer Internship Programme
Description: ‘If you want to find out if Babcock is right for you, we offer undergraduate work experience.’
Conditions:
  • Unknown
Duration:
  • 10 – 12 weeks over the summer
Support:
  • Unknown
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: Various
  • Applications Close: Various
More Info: Babcock International Group – Summer Internship Programme
BP – Engineering Internships
Description: ‘You could be extracting energy, looking after the safety of our operations; or making them run more efficiently and more reliably. You may be working out in the field or back in the office. Choose Offshore/Subsea engineering for example, and you could find yourself working with a senior engineer on the structural and dynamic modelling of offshore floating and fixed platforms. Opt for Drilling & Completion and you could be working in interesting and challenging environments, helping the team better understand and quantify drilling rig downtime and operational efficiency.’
Conditions:
  • Unknown
Duration:
  • Unknown
Support:
  • Unknown
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: NOW
  • Applications Close: 31st January 2012
More Info: BP – Engineering InternshipsOnline Application Form
Defence Engineering and Science Group (MoD)
Description: ‘We offer graduates the opportunity to join what is probably the best graduate development scheme for engineers and scientists in the UK: The Ministry of Defence, Defence Engineering and Science Graduate Scheme.’
Conditions:
  • Have completed or be in your final year of an approved engineering or science degree (or others listed here)
  • Have completed or be in your final year of an approved engineering or science degree (or others listed here)
  • Must complete online test
Duration:
  • Indefinite
Support:
  • Unknown
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: NOW
  • Applications Close: 16th January 2012
More Info: DESG by the MoD
Rolls-Royce – Summer Internships
Description: ‘We offer a range of opportunities for university and school students to develop skills and experience while gaining an insight into Rolls-Royce and the people who help shape our business.’
Opportunities available throughout the company, not just in engineering.
Conditions:
  • In at least the second year of your degree
  • Expecting to achieve a minimum of a 2:1
Duration:
  • Usually 10 – 12 weeks
Support:
  • £17,850 pro rata salary
  • Other benefits
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: Various Open Now
  • Applications Close: January 2012
More Info: Rolls-Royce – Summer Internships
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Business & Finance

Ernst & Young – Summer Internships
Description: ‘EY FastTracks programmes offer a wide range of experiences including one day insights, internships, international experiences and placements right through to four year degree courses. All these programmes will help you discover what work and life is like at one of the world’s leading professional services firms before you decide on your career.’
Conditions:
  • At least grade B at GCSE Maths and English language
  • In your penultimate or final year
  • Predicted/obtained 2:1 degree
Duration:
  • 6 weeks from either 24 June 2012 or 29 July 2012
Support:
  • Unknown
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: OPEN NOW
  • Applications Close: Various
More Info: Ernst & Young Summer Internships
GlaxoSmithKline – Purchasing / Procurement Summer Internship
Description: ‘We are offering you the opportunity to work with senior procurement professions for 8 to 10 weeks during your summer vacation. The work will focus on specific assignments to deliver benefit to Procurement’s business partners; Commercial, Production, Research & Development, IT and Corporate Services. During this time you will be provided with the appropriate level of support and training.’
Conditions:
  • Studying for a degree in any discipline but preference for business studies, purchasing, supply chain, logistics focus
  • You must be within your penultimate year of study – the internship should take place in the summer vacation prior to your final year
  • Expecting a 2:1 or higher
Duration:
  • 8 – 10 weeks
Support:
  • Unknown
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: NOW
  • Applications Close: Rolling deadlines through to summer 2012
More Info: GlaxoSmithKline – Purchasing / Procurement Summer Internship
PricewaterhouseCoopers – Insight Placements & Internships in Assurance, Consulting, Tax, Finance Advice & Actuarial
Description: ‘On our summer internship programme, you’ll experience work and life at PwC, and gain a valuable insight into our business and culture.’
Conditions:
  • Programme dependent conditions
Duration:
  • 1 – 6 weeks (programme dependent)
Support:
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: NOW
  • Applications Close: February/April 2012 (check!)
More Info: PwC – Insight Placements & Internships
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Marketing

ExxonMobil – Gas & Power Marketing Summer Placement
Description: ‘You will be given a project with direct relevance to and benefit for the business. You will work closely with experienced staff to scope, develop and deliver a project to address a specific business issue – at the end of the project the results will be reviewed by senior management.’
Conditions:
  • Engineering or science related degree
  • Moving into penultimate year of study starting September 2012
  • Expecting to receive at least a 2:1 degree classification
Duration:
  • 8 weeks from July to August
Support:
  • £23,000 pro rata salary
  • Other benefits
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: NOW!
  • Applications Close: TBC
More Info: ExxonMobile – Gas & Power Marketing Summer Placement
GlaxoSmithKline – Pharmaceutical Marketing Summer Internship
Description: ‘We are offering you the opportunity to work for up to 10 weeks of your vacation with senior managers within GSK’s UK Commercial business. You will be provided with a challenging assignment/s which will be underpinned by the appropriate levels of support and training.’
Conditions:
  • In penultimate year of study
  • Expecting a 2:1 or higher
  • A-Levels in science related subjects
Duration:
  • Up to 10 weeks
Support:
  • Salary – £15,750 per annum pro-rated, paid monthly
Key Dates:
  • Register Interest: NOW
  • Applications Close: Next deadline: Friday 17th February 2012 at 5pm but rolling deadlines until summer 2012
More Info: GlaxoSmithKline – Pharmaceutical Marketing Summer Internship
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Particle Physics

Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) – Summer Student Programme
Description: ‘Each summer DESY offers undergraduate students in physics or related natural science disciplines the possibility to participate in the research activities of the laboratory. DESY is one of the world’s leading accelerator centres and a member of the Helmholtz Association. DESY develops, builds and operates large particle accelerators used to investigate the structure of matter.’
Conditions:
  • Completed three years of full-time study by Summer 2012
Duration:
  • ~3 weeks
  •  July 17 to September 06
Support:
  • Living expenses of unknown amount
  • Second class rail travel costs within Germany reimbursed up to €130
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: OPEN NOW!
  • Applications Close: 31 January 2012
More Info: DESY – Summer Student Programme
Diamond Light Source – Work Placements & Internships
Description: ‘Diamond Light Source is a new scientific facility in South Oxfordshire on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. This giant machine, called a synchrotron, can be described as a series of “super microscopes”. It is housed in a futuristic doughnut-shaped building which covers the area of 5 football pitches. Diamond will ultimately host up to 40 cutting edge research stations, called beamlines, supporting the life, physical and environmental sciences.’
Conditions:
  • Unknown
Duration:
  • 3 – 12 months
Support:
  • None given
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: OPEN NOW
  • Applications Close: TBC
More Info: Diamond Light Source – Work Placements & Internships
Fermilab – Internships for Physics Majors (IPM)
Description: ‘Fermilab’s IPM program offers ten-week summer internships to outstanding undergraduate physics majors. This program has been developed to familiarize students with opportunities at the frontiers of scientific research in particle physics.’
Conditions:
  • Undergraduate physics major
Duration:
  • Up to 10 weeks
  • June 4 – August 10, 2012
Support:
  • USD$470 per week
  • Shared housing and rental car
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: NOW!
  • Applications Close: February 15, 2012
More Info: Fermilab – Intern Programs – IPM
CERN – Summer Student Programme
Description: ‘The CERN Summer Student Program offers undergraduate students of physics, computing and engineering a unique opportunity to join in the day-to-day work of research teams participating in experiments at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.’
Conditions:
  • Completed 3 years of full-time university education
  • Not worked at CERN before
  • Good knowledge of English
Duration:
  • 8 to 13 weeks during the summer
  • Dates TBC
Support:
  • Living allowance of unknown amount
  • Travel costs paid for
  • Assistance in finding accomodation
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: NOW!
  • Applications Close: 25 January 2012
More Info: CERN – Summer Students Information Page
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Science Journalism

BBC Focus Magazine
Description: ‘Focus has a very limited number of one and two-week editorial work experience slots available.’
Conditions:
  • Over 18
  • Ttudying a post-graduate qualification in print or online journalism and have a strong interest in science and technology that you can demonstrate, or be studying a science degree and have demonstrable writing experience e.g. in student media
Duration:
  • 1 – 2 weeks throughout the year
Support:
  • None given
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: NOT ACCEPTING
  • Applications Close: NOT ACCEPTING
More Info: BBC Focus Magazine
European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO)
Description: ‘In ESO ePOD you will work with a team of professional science communicators for the preparation of ESO and ESA/Hubble news and photo releases, publications, web pages, video scripts, exhibition panels and other public communication products.’
Conditions:
  • Previous experience in written science communication in English
  • Knowledge of astronomy
Duration:
  • 3 – 6 months
Support:
  • Monthly allowance of unknown amount
  • Accommodation provided
  • Travel costs covered
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: OPEN NOW!
  • Applications Close: Applications reviewed monthly
More Info: ESO – Science Journalism Internship
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General Programmes

IAESTE – International Work Experience for Technical Students
Description: ‘The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience, or IAESTE, is a student exchange programme with over 80 member countries worldwide. Since it was founded at Imperial College London in 1948, IAESTE has exchanged more than 330,000 students, often as the first step in their international careers.’
Conditions:
  • Placement-dependent
Duration:
  • Placement-dependent
  • Usually 6 – 12 weeks
Support:
  • Placement-dependent salary
  • Red-tape assistance (Visas, travel, accomodation etc.)
Key Dates:
  • Register Interest: n/a
  • Applications Deadline: NOW CLOSED
More Info: IAESTE UK – International Work Experience for Technical Students
Institute of Physics – Work Placement Scheme
Description: ‘From 2012, the IOP is offering penultimate year undergraduate student members of the IOP the opportunity to gain work experience through our Work Placements Scheme. The scheme enables up to 40 students the opportunity to find work placements which will then be fully funded by the IOP.’
Conditions:
  • In penultimate year of study
  • IOP accredited course (find a list here)
  • Work placement is within the UK and relevant to your course
  • Find your own placement
Duration:
  • Maximum 8 weeks (funded)
Support:
  • £250 per week up to £2,000
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: OPEN NOW
  • Applications Close: 23 April 2012
More Info:  Institute of Physics – Work Placement Scheme
Imperial College – Undergraduate Research Opportunities Research Programme (UROP)
Description: ‘UROP provides an opportunity for students who have yet to graduate from their masters degree to participate in real research. Established in 1980, UROP has hosted over 4000 students, many of whom have gone on to establish careers in research and development both in the academic and commercial environments.’
Conditions:
  • Undergraduate student of any UK institution
  • Not completing a MPhil degree
Duration:
  • Various throughout summer 2012
  • Usually 6 – 12 weeks
Support:
  • Funded & Unfunded Positions
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: Can Apply NOW
  • Applications Close: -
More Info: Imperial College London – UROP
Nuffield Foundation – Undergraduate Research Bursaries in Science
Description: ‘We offer around 450 undergraduate bursaries each year, giving students first hand experience of scientific research. We work in partnership with some of the best professional researchers from universities and research institutes throughout the UK.’
Conditions:
  • SCHEME HAS CHANGED – PLEASE CHECK THE LINK BELOW
  • Arranged your own placement
  • Taking an undergraduate degree in any area of science, technology, engineering or mathematics
  • Expecting to achieve a 1st or 2.1 degree
  • In middle years of your degree
Duration:
  • 6 – 8 weeks (funded)
Support:
  • ~£180 per week bursary (more in London)
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: Early December 2011
  • Applications Close: February 2012
More Info: Nuffield Foundation – Undergraduate Research Bursaries in Science
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory & Daresbury Laboratory – Vacation Student Scheme
Description: ‘The Science and Technology Facilities Council offer the opportunity for undergraduate students to gain practical work experience during their holidays. Students can work for 4 -12 weeks at either the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (Oxfordshire) or Daresbury Laboratory (Warrington) on projects relevant to their intended or current course of study, under the supervision of people qualified and experienced in their chosen field.’
Conditions:
  • Undergraduate
Duration:
  • 4 – 12 weeks
Support:
  • Unknown
Key Dates:
  • Applications Open: March 2012
  • Applications Close: TBC
More Info: Rutherford Appleton Laboratory & Daresbury Laboratory – Vacation Student Scheme
STEP Classic Placement Programme
Description: ‘We offer first class placement opportunities, generally in smaller businesses right across the UK. Placements are ‘project-based’ and last between 8-12 weeks over the summer vacation, an ideal opportunity to get that first bit of credible work experience to add to your CV.’
Conditions:
  • Studying an engineering, science or technology-related discipline at a UK University
Duration:
  • 8 – 12 weeks
Support:
  • Guidance throughout the process
  • £210 per week allowance
Key Dates:
  • Register Interest: REGISTER NOW
  • Applications Close: TBC
More Info: STEP Classic Placement Programme
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Other Institutions

Whilst applying to schemes like those above should play a vital part when trying to gain experience during your degree course, it is also wise to contact institutions that do not publicly offer them. Below is a list of institutions that our readers have suggested to us based on their own experiences. Read the hints and tips at the end of this guide on how to go about contacting these places to maximise your chances of getting the placement you want.

  • France
    • Institut Laue-Langevin
      The Institut Laue-Langevin is an international research centre at the leading edge of neutron science and technology. The Institute operates one of the most intense neutron sources in the world, feeding intense beams of neutrons to a suite of 40 high-performance instruments that are constantly upgraded.
  • United Kingdom
    • Jodrell Bank Observatory
      Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics comprises research activities in astronomy and astrophysics at The University of Manchester, the world leading facilities of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility, the Development Office of the Square Kilometre Array, and the Jodrell Bank Visitor Centre.
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Application Hints & Tips

Whilst applying to many programmes will increase your chances of having something exciting to do over the summer, so will ensuring that the applications you send off are of a high quality and promote you as well as everything you have to offer. Here are Carl’s top hints and tips for applying to internship and work placement programmes…

General Hints & Tips

  • Check to see if your own university operates programmes you may wish to apply for.
  • Check your e-mails for advertised opportunities your school may send round.
  • Be prepared to apply to quite a few placements and internships.
  • Be prepared to receive rejections, or in some cases absolutely no reply at all.
  • Ask your academic/personal tutor to check your CV and a cover letter, to let you know if your style is right.

Cover Letters

  • Be clear, concise and enthusiastic.
  • Tell them the reasons behind your application to them.
  • Share your previous relevant experience.
  • Be professional and always check spelling and punctuation.

Finding a Placement

If a company, organisation or institution does not publicly advertise a placement or internship scheme, it does not necessarily mean they will not take you on. Here are some tips on how to go about contacting a company you want to work for.

  • Contact the right person within the company.
  • Be polite and professional when contacting them.
  • Tell them why their company is special to you.
  • Let them know what you have to offer; make yourself stand out.
  • Attach your CV with any e-mail/letter you send.
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About the Author

Astronomy PhD student from the UK with a passion for astronomy and science outreach projects. Involved with weekly science-based radio programme The Science Show on University Radio Nottingham (URN).



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