How do I apply for a summer studentship?
Judging from the e-mail correspondence I have received, a significant number of second year students are interested in doing some laboratory work during the summer vacation.
As the studentship page indicates, the exact details of application procedure varies from scheme to scheme. However, from the correspondence I’m having, the stumbling block for several people seems to be a stage further back, i.e. “How do I know what projects are available?”
The short answer to knowing what laboratory work may be feasible is “you need to ask potential supervisors”. There is no ‘central list’ of possible project as these would often emerge organically from any conversation – some staff would perhaps be willing to take on a summer student, but have not really considered the possibility thus far.
Nevertheless, the following generic advice may be of some benefit:
(1) Let your fingers do the walking: The first thing to do is to read information about the research being conducted in the School of Biological Science. This can be found on the various Departmental web pages (Genetics, Infection, Immunity & Inflammation, Molecular and Cell Biology, and Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour). Look at both the Research sections and the People/Staff pages to see the kinds of work people are doing.
Of course, if you are not going to be Leicester-based for the summer, then there is nothing to stop you investigating the possibilities of similar lab experience at a different University nearer to your home. However, you must expect this process to take longer (and ideally you ought to make initial contact before the Christmas vacation so that you might get a chance to visit in person). A potential supervisor elsewhere is likely to want a reference from your Personal Tutor and a copy of your results to date. Therefore, you ought to raise this possibility with your tutor at the earliest opportunity – the more notice they have that a reference is required the better.
(2) write an e-mail: Next, write a polite e-mail to a potential supervisor whose research area interests you. Explain that you are interested in being considered for a summer placement and wondered whether or not they would consider taking you on.
Hopefully you will receive an enthusiastic response. However, don’t be too disappointed if they reply declining your suggestion; there can be all manner of reasons why they may say no, including the fact that they themselves will be away over the summer, or because they have a major piece of work scheduled thst needs their undivided attention, or because they already have a student placed with them/in negotation with them, or (for schemes where quotas are applicable) because they know that someone else within the Department already has plans to apply.
Some potential supervisors may wish to wait until the results from the January exams are published to ensure that you are likely to be a strong applicant (the schemes are all competitive and it is of little benefit to anyone to put time into an application that is doomed from the outset). This will make the application process quite tight (particularly if you are wanting to apply for one of the awards with an early February deadline) – so if you have First class marks from Year 1 you may want to mention this in your initial message.
(3) Meet with the potential supervisor: It is important that you don’t bypass step (2) and turn up out of the blue at someone’s office. However, if you are going to move the process forward you will need to meet with the staff member as soon as possible – regardless of the specifics of who actually submits the application for the scheme(s) of interest, you will need to have discussed this together in advance.