Home Career Advice Third annual STEM event connects students to Argonne

Third annual STEM event connects students to Argonne

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Third annual STEM event connects students to Argonne

Newswise — In the third year of First Look at Argonne, researchers and past First Look participants prospective pathway students to pursue interns with the Lab.

For students from underrepresented communities, access to premier scientific internships has not been easy to gain in the past. To rectify this problem and give some of America’s brightest students the opportunity to learn and discover alongside professional scientists, the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory offers “First Look at Argonne.”

First offered on an annual basis in 2019, First Look is a unique program that connects students from underrepresented groups with scientists to introduce them to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) internship opportunities. “Many students don’t know that there are diverse STEM internship opportunities at national labs, or how to successfully apply to them,” said Argonne university student program coordinator Rob Schuch. “Through First Look, students get a great snapshot into our research and undergraduate programs across Argonne’s campus, and are able to take their first steps toward STEM internships. More than that, through this opportunity, they discover that national labs are a welcoming and exciting community to be part of.”

“First Look was my first impression of Argonne, and I loved it. After First Look, I started applying for internships at Argonne, and I’m really happy with my internship. You learn a lot from other interns, from your mentors, from the seminars — you just need to be ready to soak up all that knowledge.” — Marco Morales, former research aid for Physics department

In addition to a virtual tour of the Advanced Photon Source (APS), a US Department of Energy Office of Science user facility at Argonne, and pointers on the intern application process, First Look featured a panel of Argonne researchers. Maria Chan, a scientist in Argonne’s Nanoscience and Technology division, shared her experience being discouraged from pursuing STEM as a child. “I was told repeatedly as a child that girls weren’t supposed to do science, so I appreciated the opportunity to pursue STEM,” she said. “Everyone deserves an opportunity to develop their talents and pursue their passions, so our efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion are very important.”

The researchers also emphasized that internships and mentorships are beneficial for national labs. “Finding mentors for students is something I enjoy tremendously,” said Giselle Sandi, the deputy division director for Argonne’s Chemical Sciences and Engineering division. “I always say, any investment we put into you is an investment in society and the Laboratory. We all, at our own level, contribute to Argonne’s scientific mission. You are the next generation of STEM researchers, and what you learn today will help you better understand where you could take your future career at Argonne and other national labs.”

During First Look, Argonne also hosted an “alumni” panel of three former Argonne interns, two of whom were past attendees of First Look. “First Look was my first impression of Argonne, and I loved it,” said Marco Morales, who helped develop an autonomous retriever device for the Physics division as a research aid. “After First Look, I started applying for internships at Argonne, and I’m really happy with my internship. You learn a lot from other interns, from your mentors, from the seminars — you just need to be ready to soak up all that knowledge.”

The alumni encouraged students to apply for STEM internships and offered key advice. “The willingness to learn and a passion for STEM will go a long way in your application and in your internship,” said Sneha Nachimuthu, who previously attended Laboratory First Look and interned in the Science Undergraduate Internship (SULI) program with the Environmental Science division . “You’re exposed to so much over your internship — both research and people — and you get to immerse yourself in the research experience. By the end of the internship, you really grow close to the people you’re in contact with.”

Like the interns on the alumni panel, the students of this year’s First Look were inspired by the experience. “I learned that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have all the [STEM] skills right now,” said University of Illinois at Chicago student Ilyas Munzir. “If you are motivated and willing to learn, you can succeed in an internship and make an impact in the world.”

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