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HELP Prestigous internship now: accept grad school now or reapply?


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Alright, I've talked to a few people about this but I'm really looking for someone who can help me tip the scales at all on making this decision. Any and all opinions welcome!

I applied to a bunch of Ph.D. programs this past fall 2020 for fall 2021 under one of the following depending on the school chem bio/bio-analytical/nucleic acid biochemistry, knowing I'd graduate in Dec. 2020 (paid for by my grad school prep program for undergrads which I'm not apart of anymore since graduating). I wanted to get some industry experience in my time off and have found myself accepting a prestigious 12-month long internship at a national lab doing very interdisciplinary stuff under chemical engineering but they'll put me on more biochem projects once this one has taken off. The last intern actually stayed 18 months until he left for grad school and left with 5 publications and 3 patents. Getting a couple of publications within the next year would be reasonable. So my choices are 1) going through all the interviews and visitation weekends now (during the beginning of the internship, which they are flexible and letting me take days off to do) to accept and defer one school from the pool of acceptances or 2) reapply next season, pay for all the apps myself, with a lot of new experience under my belt and on my resume. My internship PI said he has a 100% success rate of getting his students into their grad school of choice.

I don't know what to do! I was thinking of deferring several places but I don't want that to reflect poorly on me from different universities and PI's perspectives. I also don't want to have to face any backlash from denying an acceptance and then reapplying next year.

For some context on my qualifications, I have ~3 years of research experience, so far accepted or invited to interview at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor chemistry (2nd choice?), West Virginia University (desperately want me to start ASAP, paid), University of Washington biochem, and UC-Davis for chem where they offered an additional $5,000 stipend to come. So far rejected from UCSF Tetrad (top choice), University of Minnesota-Twin Cities chem, and UC-Davis chem.

Edited by CLaw
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  • CLaw changed the title to HELP Prestigous internship now: accept grad school now or reapply?

Hi I am not very familiar with program but I can see that one of your questions is about application fees. Universities offer a lot of fee waivers and emailing the grad chair of the department you are interested in usually gets you the waiver or you can apply through FAFSA/financial hardship if you are a US citizen. I got fee waiver for 90% of the grad schools I applied for. Also, seems like you like the internship since you wrote a lot about it than actual grad schools. However, I am not very experienced in your field and so can't really help make the decision. Although, I don't think they will down on you for deferring/rejecting to pursue research in the field. Good luck !

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  • 1 month later...

I'm not at all familiar with your field, but think that the internship sounds harder to come by than grad school --- they already signaled they want you, and the opportunity is a very valid reason to defer. If they want you, they'll wait for you. Schools deal with deferrals all the time. This internship would make you an even more valuable and experienced candidate for grad programs, PLUS you can make money (assuming it's paid), which I think is a win-win. You can take the additional time to research programs even more deeply if you feel like you need to, apply to different ones if you develop new research interests or learn about new ones through your internship PI. 

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