Helping Freshmen Prepare for Their First
Summer Internship or Research Experience
The Freshmen/Alumni Summer Internship Program (F/ASIP) provides MIT freshmen the opportunity to develop competencies in career exploration, communication, professional etiquette, and internship search skills through a graded, seminar-style course. F/ASIP has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception in 1997 and now boasts over 1,000 program alums who have taken advantage of summer opportunities around the globe to complement their academic studies. It helps first-year students articulate their career interests and strengths, master the summer internship process, and apply for (and get!) internships for the summer after their first year.
Global Education & Career Development (GECD) staff work collaboratively with student leaders to teach first-year students how to acquire internships or research experiences for the summer and to complete them successfully.
F/ASIP begins with a full-day symposium during IAP of the freshman year and continues throughout the spring semester. Internships or research experiences occur the summer between freshman and sophomore year, during which time students are also paired with an alumni mentor in an industry of interest to them.
As early as September, freshmen receive formal and informal messages suggesting that opportunities do not exist for them during their first summer after MIT. At the Fall Career Fair, recruiters frequently tell first-year students to apply for their internships when they are sophomores or juniors. Upperclassmen who may have started their internship search too late, or did not have a successful outcome, share their experiences with new students, compounding a false sense of opportunity deficiency. F/ASIP demystifies the competitive internship search process, helps students develop an individual sense of direction, and gives freshmen a professional advantage in obtaining a summer experience. They can see the immediate value of MIT’s education in the real world and get a head start on their career paths. Following a 2014 course survey, all students agreed that F/ASIP SP.800 helped them to identify potential occupations of interest and write an effective resume; over 90% reported that they could develop a career plan and that they would recommend the course to incoming freshmen.
Faculty, principal investigators, and employers all emphasize MIT students gaining professional and communication skills in addition to technical expertise. F/ASIP also supports “soft skill” acquisition. The course incorporates oral, written, and communication skills, and navigating difficult workplace situations into its curriculum. Students draft resume and cover-letter documents, compose reflective and career goal-setting essays, conduct mock interviews with employers, collaborate on team projects, deliver oral presentations, and strategically think through real-world case scenarios. Developing these skills – highly sought after by employers – can be immediately utilized in future academic settings, group projects, research labs, as well as industry.
F/ASIP students carry these polished professional qualities, along with enthusiasm, into a lab or industry work setting and the positive feedback from supervisors has been impressive. Through the years, F/ASIP students have worked in a variety of settings in the summer before their sophomore year. Many first-year students excel in summer research opportunities here at MIT, and others have achieved success at locations such as NASA JPL, Facebook, Johnson & Johnson, TripAdvisor, P&G, the U.S. Department of Energy, Morgan Stanley, Air Liquid, and Argonne National Laboratory, to name a few.
Want to hire a F/ASIP student for your lab? E-mail email@example.com with information about opportunities in your lab for summer 2015 so that we can promote your lab to F/ASIP students.