Helen Edwards Internship: Application Tips


We assume that applications are finalized by the end of December to avoid an overlap with the holidays. Several days in January are supposed to be used mainly to correct possible problems found by the internship selection committee. No documents are accepted after the deadline. Please plan accordingly.

Application Form

The form should be filled out online, not printed and faxed.
Phone: please indicate a phone number (or two) where we can reach you with questions or to schedule an interview. We need at least one number; if you do not have a phone available, put a phone number of a friend or a relative who can promptly pass information to you.
Academic year: if have had interruptions in your education or have transferred from another university, put the year of education of students with whom you attend the same courses.
GPA: A Grade Point Average is the average of all your grades at the university. We assume that GPA is based on 2 - 5 grades. If your university's grading system is different, please make sure that it is indicated in your Course List, and we will try to work out an equivalent in 2-5 system. If you have any doubts about your specific case, ask via email.
Expected Graduation Date: month and year
Information on References: we will contact your references with the request for reference letters.
Extra curricular activities: describe what you are doing apart from studying and scientific/engineering work (participation in social and political life, jobs not related to your area of study, sports, travel, reading etc.).
Honors: list here your achievements in science Olympiads, participation in conferences, mentioning in universityís honor lists, great sports results, positions in organizations or committees, etc.


All students who have so far applied to our program have been really good, and a well written essay can make a difference in the selection process. You have already put all your formal information into the form; now add something about your personality and show your creativity (you would need it in the program). Try to explain what is special about you; why, in your opinion, you could be successful in the program and why it could be interesting to you. The content to be included is up to you. Remember that while bad essays resemble each other, good ones differ.

One essay may describe a project the student was working at in a lab, while another one could be a life-span story about coming to physics or engineering; somebody may decide to answer the essayís questions through sharing his/her thoughts about place of physics in the world, and so on.

Of course, quality of English matters as well, but we do not expect it to be perfect. Moreover, all students find gaps in their English upon arrival, and the possibility of improving language skills during the summer through communication with native speakers is an obvious benefit of participation in the program. However, we do need to make sure that the selected students are capable of writing a readable text, that they are intelligent enough to consult a dictionary or a friend when hesitating about the meaning of words, and that they posses the common sense to pass the text through a spell checker before pasting it into the web form.

University Course List

The Course List should include (see Sample PDF or Sample MS Word)

  • name of your university
  • department
  • your current year of education
  • degree (for bachelors) if it had been awarded
  • list of courses with number of class hours, and grades
  • grade point average (GPA)
  • official signature and seal and/or phone and e-mail of a university official whom we can contact in case of questions
Please avoid including in the Course List any sensitive personal information such as a personal address, date of birth, Social Security Number or its analog in your home country, etc. Upon submission of the application form, you will be asked to upload the Course List.

Letters of Recommendation

Experience of previous years showed that reference letters take the longest time in the application process. Please start as early as possible with asking your mentor or professor to write the recommendations. There is no standard for these letters, and they differ a lot. Usually the letter includes brief information about the reference and how s/he knows you, explains your qualities or achievements that make you stand out from other students, sometimes describes a project or situation that highlights your best characteristics, and concludes with recommendation for acceptance to the program.

We prefer to see letters from somebody who really knows you rather than from a high-ranking official who saw you for the first time when you asked for the recommendation. Writing a non-formal recommendation takes time and efforts, and receiving such letter certainly would tell us that the reference respects you and sincerely thinks that you deserve to be accepted. If you are already participating in the scientific life of a laboratory, your labís adviser is the best person to ask for the letter.


Initial stage of selection is based on documents that students provided during the application process. Then the selected students pass an interview with a Fermilab representative. We will contact you through e-mail to make necessary arrangements.

If an opportunity of meeting one of Fermilab's scientists in your city arises, the interview can be in person. In such case, it is especially important to have in your application a valid phone number, because details of the scientist's itinerary may be changing.

More often the interview is performed through a web-cam and Skype. Note that the official regulation requires a live video contact, so make sure that you can find a computer with a web-cam and a broadband Internet connection. Please find for the interview a quiet room where you can be alone for the duration of the interview.

The typical duration of the interview is 15 minutes. It is conducted in English, and assessment of your English - speaking skill is one of the goals. There is no formally predetermined set of questions. We may ask you about details of your application, your scientific interests and work, your favorite classes etc. You may ask questions as well.