WISP 2021-2022: Potential Changes

The plan for the WISP research internship program is as follows:

  • Interviewing and matching: fall term
  • Research experiences: winter and spring terms

Be sure to monitor the WISP website and communications for any changes to the research internship program process and/or schedule. The WISP program will remain active throughout the year, regardless of any potential pandemic-related restrictions (e.g. restrictions on access to campus facilities, including research facilities and labs), although the timeline and format may change.

Scheduling Interviews

The earlier you schedule your interviews the better, as some faculty set limits on the number of interviews they will conduct.

Keep in mind that interviews take time out of your busy schedule, so be realistic about how many interviews you can do. Doing just one will minimize your chances of securing an internship; 5 or 6 interviews would offer you a reasonable number of choices to consider.

Make a Positive First Impression

Impressions are typically formed in the first 60 seconds!

Things that contribute to a good first impression: firm handshake, eye contact and a confident voice. For example, "Hello, Professor (or Dr.) XX, I'm pleased to meet you. I'm Lucy XXX and I'm here for the WISP internship interview." 

In some cultures and some families, these assertive behaviors are not encouraged, especially when there is a status difference between the two people (and you are the one with the lower status). You may feel a bit out of your comfort zone if you have not done this before. Practice beforehand with your roommate or friends so that you feel more at ease. 

Your presentation has a bearing on a mentor wanting to work with you — promptness, courtesy, appropriate dress, and whether you are engaged (actively participating) in the interview.

Why Are You Interested?

Plan out an answer in advance. You are not expected to have prior knowledge or experience about the research being conducted, but interviewers will be assessing your general motivation, your commitment, your willingness to learn new things and your level of responsibility. Willingness to take initiative and be a 'self-starter' is highly valued.

Be sure to review the project information in the online system before you go to each interview.

Initiate The Conversation

The interview is an important time not only to convey your interest and commitment, but for you to really find out what the intern's role will be. Understanding the intern's role will allow you to make better choices about your internship preferences.

If the internship description does not sufficiently explain what a WISP intern will be doing in her role in the research, ask. If you don't hear a clear enough explanation, ask for more clarification.

Ask About

Time commitment

Does the internship require specific days or times or is it more flexible? Think about the time commitment in terms of your anticipated winter and spring academic (and extracurricular) schedules and consider whether you will be able to commit the time to engage deeply in the project and make a meaningful contribution. Past interns often say that the WISP internship is equivalent to taking a fourth class.

Research context

Find out how the current research fits into the larger context of knowledge — the bigger picture. Where or how can this information be applied?

Finding the right fit

Use the interview process to explore some of the fascinating research going on here and to meet faculty and other researchers. Think about whether you would feel comfortable in the particular lab setting.