Frequently Asked Questions
Questions Before You Apply
What are the program dates?
Ten weeks beginning the day after Memorial Day. May 31 – August 5, 2016.
How much will I be paid?
You will receive a $5,500 stipend plus free housing in dormitory suites at The George Washington University. A relocation allowance may be requested.
What kinds of students do you attract?
NHRE interns bring a wide range of experiences and narratives to the program and there is no such thing as an average intern. NHRE interns hail from across the US and beyond. In a typical year about half of our interns will come from colleges that cater primarily to undergraduates and approximately 40 percent will identify with groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences (e.g. Latino, African American, Native American, Disabled). Most interns will be rising sophomores, juniors, or seniors. The personal narrative of each applicant is considered.
Can I participate if I cannot be there the entire time?
We require that students be able to arrive no later than the Monday following the first week (and then only if they absolutely cannot reschedule final exams) and that they be present through the final day of the program. A brief excused absence of a few days may be permitted in consultation with the program directors and your mentor.
Can non-US citizens / graduating seniors apply?
Yes; however, we have a very limited number of spots in those categories.
Can high school students apply?
No. You must have completed at least one semester (or the equivalent) of college when you apply.
What are you looking for in an applicant?
The personal narrative of each applicant is considered. We are looking for students who (1) show a lot of promise / potential to become scientific leaders (2) will benefit professionally from participating in NHRE (i.e. NHRE will have a high impact on their potential to reach their career goals). Finally, every year we strive to assemble a team that brings a diversity of personal narratives to the Smithsonian as we train the next generation.
Who should write my letters of recommendation?
The most effective letters will come from people best able to judge your ability to succeed in an undergraduate research program. Generally this will mean college professors, ideally those who know you well enough to write a positive and specific recommendation. High school teachers can also be appropriate, especially for first year college students. Sometimes, another person in a position of responsibility (e.g., employer, academic advisor) may be able to attest to your good qualities, although at least one letter should be able to speak to academic potential.
How are applicants selected?
An independent panel of museum staff reviews and ranks the applications first by discipline and then, for a group of 50 finalists, across disciplines. Every application in our finalist pool is read and ranked by at least three staff members. Interns selected for our program are then matched with willing mentors, ideally in a discipline of the applicant's choosing.
Will I choose/design my project?
The level to which the intern designs the research project is highly variable from highly intern-led to highly mentor-led, with the typical project largely designed by the mentor.
What should I do if I need to make a decision about an offer from another REU?
Contact us. There is a good chance we can give you additional information about your status that may help in making your decision.
Questions after You Are Accepted
Do I need a car?
No. You can walk to the museum from the housing.
Where will I live?
Interns live together in dormitory suites at The George Washington University. All housing comes with access to kitchen facilities. Students will be in singles or doubles.
Must I live in the dorms?
We strongly recommend it — NHRE alumni report that living together builds a sense of community and we find that students rank their living arrangements very highly at the end of the program. Housing in the dorms is provided by the program, and we cannot provide compensation for any alternative housing arrangements.
What do I need to bring with me?
You will soon receive an extensive welcome packet that gives you guidelines regarding what to bring, what to do when you arrive, and how to get in touch with program alumni.
What is a typical day like as an NHRE intern?
Most of Mondays through Thursdays are spent working on your project. This is time you and your mentor will work together as you learn the project and procedures and eventually work more independently. Every intern completes a poster to summarize their results, and presents the poster at an event at the end of the summer to which museum staff are invited. Many interns also present their work at a professional meeting in the year following their internship.
Fridays are program days, with each week devoted to a different museum department (e.g., Paleobiology, Botany, Anthropology, etc.). These start with a lecture in the morning, followed by collections tours and other events related to that day's discipline. In addition, we have various other events, some of them optional (so you can work on your project instead if you want) such as professional development seminars on topics such as going to graduate school, professionalism, research ethics, etc.
What hours will I be working? Is there any vacation?
The internship is full time (40 hours a week) for 10 weeks. Interns typically work during business hours from Monday through Friday, but the specific hours you work may depend on your mentor's schedule or project (example, field work or other research collection trips). There aren't any vacation days; however, for very special occasions (a family wedding, a funeral, a family reunion or graduation) we typically excuse interns for a day or two. Weekends are your own as are holidays (example July 4th) and interns typically have no trouble having a lot of fun together.
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