Five Reasons Why You Should Apply for a Summer Research Program

By Annabel Ortiz, former SACNAS Program Manager for American Indian Affairs

Student at work in Life Science Lab at Salish Kootenai College, 2013

As you plan your academic goals for the new quarter/semester, I have a question for you: is participating in a summer research program on your 2017 bucket list? If it did not make the cut, I have five reasons why you should apply to summer research programs. With summer program deadlines rapidly approaching in the months of January and February, all of us at SACNAS encourage you to continue pursuing opportunities that will enhance your skills as a scientist.

Reason #1 — Exposure to science

Participating in summer research can stimulate a scientific interest that might lead you to find the science you are passionate about. You are exposed to many different areas of research that could even inspire new interests. Your summer program can further help you understand the scientific process from beginning an experiment, collecting data, analyzing results, and help you define your scientific view point.

Reason #2 — Access to Resources

As a summer research program participant, you will gain access to resources you did not even know existed! Program directors have a wealth of knowledge about opportunities available to underrepresented students, such as funding opportunities, internships, and fellowships. You will also have opportunities to present your summer research project at national meetings (like 2017 SACNAS!).

Reason #3 — Excellent Networking Opportunity

As you embark on a summer research program, your professional and peer network will grow. Summer programs introduce you to new mentors and potential collaborators. Collaboration is crucial to science and will only help in your career. In addition, networking with your own peers will not only make for an enjoyable summer research experience, but these peers will also become your support network.

Reason #4 — Inspiration

You will be in the presence of peers that are interested in the same science, and educators who will be your mentors and give you that extra push of motivation. These programs create a sense of belonging and could even help you decide on a research career.

Reason #5 — Travel and get paid

Typically, summer research programs are 8 to 10 weeks long. Most summer programs will also pay for your travel, lodging, and even award you a stipend. This is a great opportunity to travel and visit another state for a short period of time.

If you have not already started to look for summer research opportunities, I strongly encourage you to take a look at the SACNAS opportunities webpage. Also speak with your mentors; they will guide you in the right direction. Once you have completed your summer research, send us your abstract for a chance to present at 2017 SACNAS: the National Diversity in STEM Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah October 19–21!

Originally published at