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Questions about NIH Summer Internship Program and changing labs

ChiralityChirality 12 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
I'm a high school junior, thinking about where I'm going this summer. Last summer I worked at a really great lab at my local UC. I liked the research, and the grad students and PI there were extremely supportive and accommodating of all of my endeavors. A lot of high school interns who have worked there have gone on to Intel and Siemens SF or better with their projects. I'm working on a research publication there over the school year and the lab is prepared to welcome me back next summer. However, I'm interested in trying out something new next summer, so I'm considering applying for NIH SIP.

To that end it would probably be beneficial to get a letter of recommendation from my PI, but I'm not sure how it would come across. Asking for a LOR kind of inherently implies I'm thinking about leaving the lab for a different one, right? I'm worried about leaving with potentially a lot of hard feelings.

For anyone who's done NIH SIP - what's it like? Will getting into NIH SIP will really be worth it if it means having to burn bridges with the lab I'm currently working for? For the record, I live in California, which is a pretty long flight from Bethesda, and don't have any friends who can help me out if I end up going long distance.

My third question is on how I can convey my situation to the rest of my lab group. Ideally, I would like to get an LOR from my PI so I can apply to the other research programs I'm interested in - and in case none accept me, I would like to be able to go back to my original lab to continue what I was working on before. I don't want to come off as selfish, but I feel like that is exactly how it will sound. Is this a common thing? Does anyone have experience with this kind of situation, and what would be the best way for me to communicate this with the lab?

Thanks in advance, CC, and happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
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Replies to: Questions about NIH Summer Internship Program and changing labs

  • tooty44tooty44 260 replies32 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Last year, I interned at the NIH and highly recommend it. You will meet a bunch of accomplished scientists and students from all over the country (most are from renowned universities). You get good pay, a good place to vacation, and 10 weeks of high quality research.

    That being said, I will answer your second concern. I was recently faced with a similar situation. A little background about me: I am a collar for a big lab on the east coast and have been researching with them for who knows how long. Last year, I applied to NIH with a LOR from my mentor and this year I plan to apply to other summer programs with another LOR from the asme guy. The way I went about doing it was telling my mentor the truth: I wanted to expand my scientific horizons and explore new research areas. I believe most PIs will be understanding and even encouraging if you make it known that you would like to continue research with them, but also dabble in other scientific areas.

    I hope this helped. Best of luck!
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  • ChiralityChirality 12 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thanks so much! I guess I'll be applying to NIH then.
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