Internship vs. Thesis

Speons seem to get into the momentum of SPEA’s academic life without hesitation every spring semester. I am no exception. Apart from having become more familiar with a graduate student’s lifestyle, the need to plan for the upcoming summer is another source of motivation.

One of the reasons why I chose SPEA is the flexibility its programs offer; one of them is the choice of writing a thesis or fulfilling an experiential requirement to complete a master degree. In other words, since I am more interested in gaining professional experience in my fields of study, I can choose to take on an internship for the summer instead of going with the research track- writing a thesis. With that in mind, early spring is a crunch time when it comes to applying for internships. The career services, which is another reason why I chose SPEA, continues to be a great resource and support as I research and apply to organizations and companies. Not only will the career services provide means to which I can receive postings that are related to my interest, I can also connect with alumni who are working in places which I’m interested in finding out more about.

The most challenging thing about applying internships, however, is finding time in the midst of the school and work, and with a bit of an adventurous spirit, to initiate the search and apply process. Yet it can be exciting and eye-opening to see what opportunities and options are out there; maybe you will find a position that is tailored to your interests and education! After all, it’s always good to get a glimpse of what you may be getting yourself into after graduation. You never know until you start looking…


4 responses

  1. Thank you to SPEA for having this blog! What a great resource for prospective students!

    When does a first-year student need to decide whether he/she wants to do a thesis or an internship? Do MPA/MSES dual degree students do one or the other also, or both?

  2. Hi Carrie,

    A first-year student doesn’t really have to decide until the summer, but it’s always a good idea to spend your first and definitely your second semester of the first year figuring out what you want to do. You can talk to professors who are involved in research that might interest you, or you can try to figure out if you want to obtain an internship that deals with research. All you have to do when the summer comes is enroll either in a class for writing a thesis or a class for an internship (the completion of that “class” represents the fulfillment of your thesis or experiential requirement, but you don’t necessarily have to take that “class” fore credit).

    As for joint degree students like me, we have a choice to do either as well. The good thing is that we get two summers during our course of study, so you can choose to do an internship during the first summer and research during the second (or vice versa).

    If you’d like more detailed information about it, please let me know. I hope this is helpful!

  3. Hi all! its wonderful to have such a blog where in prospective students like me can interact with current students. I am from India and have received admit from Indiana university for MSES Applied ecology. It would be alltogather different environment for me so I would like to know more about the student life as well the classroom atmosphere.
    As you were discussing about the thesis Vs internship , i would like to know about places where you can apply for internship?
    Hope to see your reply soon

  4. Congradulations on your admission!!

    As an international student, I had to invest a significant amount of time into learning and investigating more about companies and organizations, since I am not familiar with the job market in the U.S. That may be something you may want to plan ahead and allocate time for. I think what would be helpful for you is that you can look at SPEA’s career services website to get more of an idea. However, you will have to be a student to gain access to the internship/job listings, alumni contacts, and companies that the department has networked with.

    Internships are offered by various organizations and companies every year, and the career services will generally email out opportunities to the student body, so it varies from year to year. One of the organizations that is a good fit for applied ecology is Student Conservation Association; just check it out and see if you’d be interested for next summer .

    Hope this helps!

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