>> Sharon Milgram:
Good afternoon. I’m Dr. Sharon Milgram.
Today I’m going to talk with you about the NIH high school summer
internship program, or NIH-SIP. So, I want to start
the video today about applying to the summer
internship program by first talking briefly
about the NIH. The mission of the NIH
is to uncover new knowledge that will lead to
better health for everyone. We accomplish this mission
through the work of 27 separate institutes
and centers. So, it’s important
to understand it’s not the National
Institute of Health, it’s actually the National
Institutes of Health. Most of the NIH institutes, or ICs,
have two major divisions: an extramural division
and an intermural division. Extramural NIH supports research
and training outside of the NIH by funding grants
and fellowships and research on campuses
across the NIH and the globe. The intermural program
in the NIH actually occurs
on our NIH campuses, and the intermural program
consists of scientists who are doing research here to tackle major
biomedical research problems. It’s not important for you
to understand or memorize each of the 27
institutes and centers or ICs, but I do want to give you
a little bit of context because it will help you in considering your application
for the summer. So, shown here in this slide are
all 27 institutes and centers, and you can see that
they each have an acronym and that those acronyms
can be confusing. Okay? So, for example, NCI is
the National Cancer Institute and the focus of the NCI is to understand
the causes of cancer, to develop new treatments,
to study basic science that might contribute
to our understanding of tumor genesis
and metastasis. So, I’m not going to go through all of the 27 institutes
and centers, but those examples give you
a little bit of a sense of how the NIH is organized.
So, let me talk a little bit about what types of research
NIH does and supports, and remember that we support
the biomedical research enterprise
both through extramural funding and through intermural
programs here on campus. Our research is at the basic
level, the translational level, and at the clinical level, meaning we take
very basic observations and try to turn them
into research that can benefit mankind. We use tools from
the behavioral sciences, the biological sciences,
the chemical sciences, computational sciences, mathematical, physical,
and social sciences, and that’s a really
key thing to understand that you can get exposure to and learn about
a variety of disciplines. This is just not for people
who love biology. You can take your love of math and apply it to solving
biomedical problems. You can work in
the public health arena in our computational lab,
in a wet lab, in a clinical lab and that’s something very,
very special about our internship program. One of our major missions
is to train the next generation of
biomedical research scientists and healthcare providers.
Obviously, the students of today are the professionals
of tomorrow, and many of our programs
are specifically focused on helping you receive
the training you need to develop a successful career
in the long-term. And so, the summer
internship program is one of those
very unique programs designed to help you
prepare for the future. Now, I’m going to talk about
the summer internship program and the intermural program, so let me teach you
just a little bit about the intermural
research program. The main campus
is in Bethesda, Maryland, but we actually have campuses
in other areas of Maryland, in North Carolina, in Arizona,
in Michigan, and in Montana, and while the bulk
of the internship opportunities are in the Maryland area, those of you interested
in training at another campus for the summer
should look carefully at what these
other campuses are. The intermural program actually
is in 24 of the 27 institutes that I talked about earlier, and there are over
950 research groups doing public health research,
basic science research, translational research,
and clinical work. So, anything that
you’re interested in is likely represented here
in the intermural program. Let’s now drill down to the NIH
high school SIP, or HS-SIP for short. So, I’m going
to talk specifically about the eligibility criteria and opportunities
for high school students. So, first of all,
these are paid internships in our NIH
intermural research group and I’ve already stressed
across many disciplines. The length of time
in the internship is average eight
to 10 weeks. There are internships
on all of the NIH campuses that I talked about. Let’s go over
the eligibility carefully since it’s really important
to be sure you’re eligible before you put time
into applying. The first is that you must be
a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You also must be a junior
or senior in high school at the time of application, so now you should be currently
enrolled in high school as either a junior or a senior.
To come to NIH, you must be 17 years of age
or older by June 15th, and if you are under the age
of 18 by June 15th, you must reside within 40 miles
of your NIH worksite. In the frequently
asked questions section we have some
additional information on these requirements. You must meet all of
the eligibility requirements to be eligible to apply
for the NIH high school SIP. One of the things that’s
important to know about an internship is that you want to have
hands-on work experience, but you also want to have
a comprehensive educational program
beyond your research group. And I just want to highlight
a few of the programs that the OITE sponsors
for high school interns. There are a variety of workshops
to help you develop your scientific skills
and your communication skills because communication skills
are one of the key competencies to be successful in science
and healthcare careers. We also want you
to understand how people go
about choosing a career and preparing for that career, and an element of that
at the high school level is choosing a college
and being prepared for college, and we’ll talk a lot
about college preparation from the perspective
of majors in science, technology,
engineering, and math. We also believe to be
a successful scientist means to know how
to take care of yourself and how to deal with
the inevitable setbacks of research
and career readiness, and we sponsor a vigorous
resilience and wellness program. The NIH has a summer
lecture series just for you, where world-class scientists
come and share their, little bit about themselves, a little bit about
their research, a little bit about
what they think you need to do to be successful. We have a variety
of community-building and networking events so that you leave at the end
of the summer with many friends both from within
your research group and beyond, and we end the summer with the
most amazing poster day, maybe a thousand
plus posters one day in the natural comfort center
here on campus. Many of the other campuses
have similar programs and poster days at the end. And in addition to these OITE
sponsored activities, your institute will provide you with additional workshops
and enrichment activities. Now, when we talk about the NIH
high school SIP, we’re talking about
an umbrella program that is in every one
of the institutes and centers. But in addition to the broader
NIH-SIP program we have two programs
sponsored directly by the office of intermural training
and education, and these programs
are called High STEP, for high school scientific
training and enrichment program, and High STEP 2.0.
High STEP and High STEP 2.0 have different
eligibility criteria, they have a different
application process, and there are differences
in the curriculum and experience that you’ll have
during the summer. There’s specific information
on High STEP and High STEP 2.0
and the broader SIP, and a comparison of these
three programs at the length
that’s provided in the slide. It’s really important that you
look carefully at these programs before deciding exactly
what to apply for. Let’s talk a little bit about
some general principles about applying,
and we’re going to start by saying before
you start writing, read. And even more importantly,
before you email us with questions read the website, listen to the video
maybe more than one time to make sure that
you understand everything, and be prepared before
you start your application. Many students apply to the NIH high school
summer internship program and it may seem very,
very competitive and you may hear,
“Oh, it’s so hard to get in to,” and honest truth is,
it is competitive and it’s hard to get into, but what we have learned
over many years is that students who read
the FAQs and students who carefully work
on their application and who really pay attention
to our guidance do better than students
who go it alone. So, please,
before you begin writing, read. You should follow the directions
and you should be aware that it’s important to submit
your application early, and it is really important
to start your application even earlier. It takes many rounds
of revisions and getting feedback
and revisions to put together
a strong application. You want to make sure
that your cover letter and the other elements
of your application really let you shine, that they’re
grammatically correct, that your thoughts
are clearly expressed, and that your materials
are well organized. So, put some real care
into preparing to apply and then some care
into applying as well. The application has five parts. The first is contact
information. Be sure to use an email address
that you check regularly. In addition, provide a phone
number where we can reach you, the application includes
a cover letter; which I’m going to talk about
in great detail later, a resume; which I’ll also talk about,
letters of recommendation, and a list of your courses
and grades. You can get tips on successfully
completing each element of your application at the link
provided here in the slide. The next part of your
application is your resume. A resume is
a concise representation of your educational
and work history. It should start with
your contact information and your education:
your school name, school year, whether you have
any particular honors. You also might have sections that focus
on research experience that could be an independent
research project at school. That could be something that
you did in a previous summer. Other work experience, and we mean work experience
outside of the science arena. Whatever job you’ve had,
it shows responsibility. We’re interested in knowing about your volunteer
experiences, whether that be at school
or in the community. Whether you’ve taken
a leadership position in a club at school
or somewhere in the community and any honors or awards
that you’ve received. We don’t expect to see
many years of work or research experience.
We know as a high school student that you’re just
getting started, but please give us a sense
of who you are by filling out information relevant in all
or most of these subheadings. Letters of recommendation
are a chance for us to hear from individuals
who know a lot about you, and in particular
at the high school level, we’re expecting to hear
from your teachers, and we would prefer to hear
from teachers who know you well. So, teachers where
you had a lab, teachers where you spent a lot
of time in classroom discussion, teachers where you went in
after class to sit and talk. It would be great too if they can address
your knowledge in the sciences and in mathematics in areas
relevant to the internship, and also relevant
personal traits, like your ability
to manage your time, your ability to respond
appropriately to feedback, your ability to work
as part of a team. It’s fine to have a letter
come from a boss or someone who knows
you outside of school, but it is best to have letters
coming from your teachers, and if you solicit letters
from people outside school, they should be able
to discuss similar qualities, your work ethic,
your attention to detail, your ability
to work on teams. Generally, you should avoid
asking sports coaches and members
of youth groups for letters unless you’ve taken
on a leadership role. And finally,
letters should not come from family members or friends. Those letters don’t tell us
enough about you. We’re going to ask about
your courses and grades, and this is all of your courses,
not just your science courses, and it should include those that
you are currently enrolled in and you should begin
with your courses in 9th grade. You can organize
your list by semester, make it as clear as you can. The application
requires you to type in all of your courses
and your grades. We will check later
when you submit a transcript that that list is accurate, so please double check
before you hit submit. Perhaps the most important
part of the application is the next section
that I’m going to talk about, and that’s your cover letter. Your cover letter is
essentially your chance to tell us
three important things: your background, your broad
science and research interest in any previous
relevant experiences that prepare you
to be successful in the NIH high school SIP. This should really highlight
your motivation for coming to NIH. What do you hope to learn?
What activities most excite you? Where do you see
yourself heading, although we appreciate
that you’re in high school and your career interests
are likely to change. If you are applying to High STEP
or High STEP 2.0, you need to discuss
the program specific elements that are listed
on the program webpage. So, for example, High STEP
asks specifically for you to talk about
your leadership experience. You should have your cover
letter edited many times. You should get feedback
from teachers, from guidance counselors,
from friends, so that you get enough feedback
that it’s clearly written, that it flows well. This is a really important
element of your application. So, that’s the application. Let’s talk a little bit
about how we select interns because understanding this helps
you prepare for the next step. So, let’s talk about
the selection process for the high school SIP. So, all of the application parts that I’ve talked about
are online, and you apply through
the central database online. There will be
a number of questions when you begin
the application that will assess
your eligibility for applying and it will direct you down the
proper path in your application. This application
is an online database, and selection committees
in each of the NIH institutes and centers
have access to this database. They’re going to
search the database to find appropriate candidates. So, for example,
the selection committee for the National Human
Genome Research Institute might search
using keywords related to genomics and genetics, to see if a student says,
“I was especially excited when I learned
about genetics in my class, and I wrote a paper
on genetic disease, and this is something
I’d like to learn about.” So, the search committees
will look and search the database
to find applicants that would fit well
in their institute. That’s why it’s really
important for you to talk a little bit about what
you want to accomplish at NIH, what subjects excite
you the most, what things you want
to learn about. The selection committee members
may reach out to you for a phone interview
or for questions, and they will certainly
email you first to set up a time to talk. They will make decisions
and will reach out with offers to candidates
starting probably in mid to late December rolling all the way
through April. Sometimes applicants
email and say, “When am I going to hear?
When am I going to hear?” and we appreciate that. We’re happy to answer
those emails. The honest truth
is that it’s a rather protracted admissions process. I want to address as we wrap up
just a few things, and the first is that I know that many highly
qualified applicants apply, way more highly
qualified applicants than we have positions for. Don’t give up.
Apply again next year. Look for quality internships
and work in your community. Consider joining us for our
high school leadership series during the summer
so you can visit campus if you live in the area
and apply again next year. Our data show that students
who are resilient, who persist in
the application process, often get in
when they re-apply. There are a variety
of resources online, but we appreciate that you
likely have additional questions and we provide
our contact information here. In addition, if you would like
some feedback on your cover letter, please send it to us
as early as possible. Understand that we won’t edit,
we won’t read multiple drafts, we won’t be giving you
substantial feedback, but we can let you know
if you’re heading in the right direction
and what might be missing. Visit www.nih.gov for links
to institute websites to get health information
for you, your family, and your community.
Explore our website, www.training.nih.gov for archived videos for more resources,
for lots of career information. And if you are looking for
summer programs outside the NIH, we have links to programs
across the U.S. And right there at the end is
our email address for questions: [email protected] We may not get back
to you immediately, but we do our best
to answer inquiries as quickly as possible. I hope that the video
was helpful. I hope that you have a sense
of how to apply and what to expect
once you apply, and I hope to see you at NIH at some point
in your educational journey. Thank you very much
and best of luck.