The intern program in a nutshell
The basis of the Summer Intern Program is a highly individualized research experience for each student coupled with group activities. As an intern in the VIMS/SMS program, you'll work closely with a mentor, and often within the context of a research team, to develop an individual project. Depending on the project, the summer may involve lots of 'hands-on' experience in the field or laboratory, or both. You'll have access to one of the best marine science libraries in the country, as well as extensive computer facilities.
Interns are expected to work with their mentors to develop a project idea in the form of a brief research prospectus, conduct their research, and then present results in a final program that is open to the VIMS community. Interns also prepare a summary research paper that is maintained in the program archives. In some cases, this has been the basis for a subsequent publication in the scientific literature. For more information on intern research projects, check out the student research page.
During the summer we meet every week for a seminar that features a guest speaker discussing topics such as:
- "Scientific Reading, Writing and Peer Review"
- "How to Apply to Graduate School: Tips from the Faculty Who Read the Files"
- "Alternatives to Life in Academia: A Panel Discussion"
- "How to Give an Effective Scientific Presentation"
- "Ethics in Science"
Other group activities include 3 field trips. We traverse the coastal plain environment, from a freshwater system that feeds into the Chesapeake Bay, through the estuary proper and out to the Atlantic Ocean along the shoreface of the Delmarva Peninsula. When we travel to the VIMS Wachapreague Laboratory on Virginia's Eastern Shore, we spend a full day exploring nearly pristine coastal habitats, including an open coast beach on a barrier island, mud flat, salt marsh, and oyster reef. During a research cruise in the York River estuary aboard the VIMS research vessel Bay Eagle, there will be opportunities to try state-of-the-art oceanographic instrumentation, to pull in a trawl net full of fish and crabs, and to learn a bit about vessel navigation. When we kayak the tidal freshwater reaches of the Chesapeake Bay, expect to see an abundance of wildlife and learn how land-use practices in the watershed affect the local estuary and coastal ocean.
Quotes from Former Interns
- “I am really glad I chose this program because I gained field and lab experience. My mentors, including grad students, really helped me understand what was going on.”
- “Research at VIMS was a wonderful experience. It was especially helpful in learning about graduate school and helping me decide what I want in a graduate program.”
- “I have more confidence because I’ve always felt as if my grades didn’t reflect my abilities; this project allowed me to excel and now I see that I enjoy this field and can do well in it.”
- "VIMS is a great institution for pursuing a career in marine science."
- "It [the research experience] reaffirmed that this is what I want to do with my life."
- "Internships provide essential information necessary for prospective students to decide if they would want to pursue a career in marine science."