Tara says . . .
Internship duties? I worked with a partner researching least distance problems on non-planar surfaces. We wrote a paper about our research and submitted it for publishing. We then presented the research together at the 2008 Tenth Annual Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics.
Best thing about internship? I had the opportunity to gain research experience and use computer programs such as Geometer’s Sketchpad and LaTeX, a popular markup language, which I had not worked with at HSU. Also, getting to meet and work with students from universities across the country was invaluable.
What inspired me to seek an internship? I knew I needed to get some type of research experience for getting into grad school. My career counselor encouraged me to get an REU internship, and raised the bar for me to explore research internships. If she had not pushed me so much, I would not have applied at 15 different places. She motivated me to go all out and do the work to secure the best experience.
What I learned from my HSU education that prepared me for this internship? The HSU Math department provided me with good practice at writing proofs. My REU advisor at BYU put a lot of emphasis on the quality of our research paper which required us to make sure that our proofs were not only correct, but written clearly.
How I found my internship? I found out what an REU program was from the Career Center. Then I did an internet search for “Math REUs.” After exploring the type of research that each program offered, I created a list of about six programs that interested me. I met with my career counselor several times and she helped me with my essays as well as the whole application process.
Internship search advice? Don’t settle for the first opportunity you see. Talk to other people who have participated in REUs. They may have pointers, stories, or connections. Most importantly, don’t automatically disqualify yourself because of a lack of experience. Some REU programs prefer students from small schools, and even students that haven’t completed upper division mathematics classes.