One of the most important steps in your career development is gaining experience, such as internships, research/lab experience, and volunteer opportunities. These opportunities help you connect your academic preparation to the world of work as you explore career fit and strengthen your resume to become competitive for occupations or graduate school. Some occupations may also have common paths to gain experience and enter the field. For instance, certain industries and organizations may provide more opportunities to gain experience through volunteering rather than starting with a formal internship. It’s important to explore those paths and qualifications of the field to help inform your own goals in gaining experience.
Not sure where to start? Consider these steps:
- Clarify your interests, assess yourself, and explore how your interests related to careers and industry areas
- Research occupations, qualifications and potential paths towards that career field to best align your experience now with your preparation for a future job
- Assess your current level of experience and where you should start—For instance, many competitive internships look for previous part-time work or leadership experience which may necessitate pursuing part-time jobs and volunteer experience to begin your path
- Explore opportunities and resources below and prepare for the application process
Strategies to Gain Experience Related to Science
Do you have a passion for making positive and impactful scientific advances for animals, people, or the environment? There are a wide variety of ways to gain experience to further your skill set for your future career. Employers and graduate school admissions teams are looking for students who can complement their academic knowledge with skills such as critical thinking, project management, communication, and team collaboration. Some popular occupations that combine these skills with academic knowledge include field biologist, environment scientist, geologist, aquarist, restoration ecologist, and fisheries manager.
- Considering pursuing a career in health sciences? Explore the Health Professions website for specific information regarding different health professions academic courses, experience timelines, and student organizations.
- Wanting to get involved with research experience around campus and beyond? Research the various opportunities on the UCSB Undergraduate Research website.
- Looking to volunteer and support the local Santa Barbara community? Contact local organizations that you are interested in volunteering with. Also check the Community Affairs Board for volunteer opportunities with other students.
- Not quite sure what type of experience you should gain or the best way to identify experiential opportunities? Drop-in to the Career Resource Center to talk with a Career Counselor. They can help you get started.
Sites with Listings and On-Campus Recruitment Events
Sites with Listings
- Channel Islands Biology Internships
- Internships.com - Internship postings from companies located across all 50 states. Register for a free account using your UCSB Umail account information
- United Way of Santa Barbara County - Volunteer activities locally
- Volunteer Match
- Volunteer Abroad
- Intern Match
- GauchoLink Job Board - UCSB's official site for jobs, internships, work-study positions, and on-campus interviews.
- GoinGlobal - Country Career Guides and expert tools for finding employment abroad and in other U.S. states.
- Career & Internship Fairs
- On-Campus Interview (OCI)
- Employer Information Sessions, Workshops, & Industry Panels
- AS/UCSB Community Affairs Board (CAB) - Provides information and access to community service work
On-Campus & Local- Internships & Opportunities
- Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Outreach Program
- Environmental Studies Internship Program
- UCSB Marine Science Institute -Nothing is more exciting and educational than a hands-on experience with the natural environment right in our own front Yard: the Santa Barbara Channel! Guided by UCSB students, visitors to the REEF learn, through guided hands-on exploration, about our local marine ecosystems, as well as other important ocean habitats around the world.
- On-Campus Jobs handout
- UCSB Sustainability Internship Program - The UCSB Sustainability Internship Program is seeking applications for the several graduate and undergraduate student positions.
- Education Abroad Program - Integrate study abroad into your college academic plan and explore the many internship and volunteer opportunities available to EAP students abroad.
- UCDC & UCCS - The University of California Washington Program and the Center in Sacramento provide UCSB students with a unique opportunity to live, work as interns, and study in our nation’s political and cultural epicenter, Washington, D.C, and observe the public policy process in our state's capital, Sacramento.
- California Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP) - The California Alliance for Minority Participation provides resources and opportunities to under-represented students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The Summer Research Program provides a 10 week intensive research experience for CAMP eligible students interested in a career in science, engineering, technology or mathematics. CAMP participants work in a UCSB laboratory with a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher mentor.
- Cooperative International Science and Engineering Internships (international) - The Cooperative International Science and Engineering Internships program, sponsored by the Materials Research Laboratory, the International Center for Materials Research, and the NSF REU program sends US science and engineering undergraduates to international partner institutions for a 10-week summer research experience. Internships are available at research centers in Eindhoven-Netherlands; Dublin-Ireland; Oxford-England; Saarbruecken-Germany and Goethenborg-Sweden.
- Department of Ecology, Evolution, & Marine Biology Faculty Research -
- Department of Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology Faculty Research
- Early Undergraduate Research and Knowledge Acquisition (EUREKA) - The EUREKA! program is designed to enrich the academic experience of undergraduates at UCSB in science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) disciplines early on in their educational careers. The program is focused on introducing students in their first year to the broader science community on campus and providing exposure to research through academic year internships.
- Faculty Research Assistance Program (FRAP) Directory
- Future Leaders in Advanced Materials (FLAM)
- Gene Lucas Undergraduate Research Fund - The Gene and Susan Lucas Undergraduate Research Fund was established to support research projects of undergraduate, first-generation college students at UC Santa Barbara in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Freshmen and first-year transfer student participants will be funded up to $1,000 towards on-site work experience in a research environment, including laboratory or field work.
- IGERT Network Science Internship - The IGERT Internship in Network Science brings undergraduates to the UC Santa Barbara campus for a summer research experience. From June until August, a select group of interns will work with graduate students and faculty on projects for an 8-week period, culminating in a formal research presentation.
- Maximizing Access To Research Careers - The Maximizing Access to Research Careers - Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC U*STAR) Program is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The program seeks to increase the number of highly-trained biomedical and behavioral scientists, from disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds, in leadership positions to significantly affect the nation's health-related research needs.
- McNair Scholars Program - The McNair Scholars Program prepares qualified undergraduates for entrance to a PhD program in all fields of study. The goals of the program are to increase the number of first-generation, low-income and/or underrepresented students in PhD programs, and ultimately, to diversify the faculty in colleges and universities across the country.
- Partnership for Research and Education Materials (PREM) - This program provides 10-week summer research internships for students from UCSB, Jackson State University and the University of Texas El Paso.
- Research Internship in Science and Engineering (RISE) - Science and engineering students from UCSB and other universities acquire research experience in a variety of exciting fields through these internships. Interns meet regularly to share their experiences and report on their progress.
- Summer Applied Biotechnology Research Experience (SABRE) - The University of California, Santa Barbara Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies (ICB) is a uniquely interdisciplinary research environment, with a mission of transforming biological inspiration into technological innovation. The ICB Summer Research Internship in Science and Engineering at UCSB brings science and engineering majors from across the U.S. to UCSB for a summer research experience. Interns are partnered with a mentor of similar interest, conduct research in our state-of-the-art laboratories, attend research seminars, receive training in career development skills, and participate in social activities.
- Undergraduate Research and Creative Ideas (UCRA) - The Office of Undergraduate Education encourages undergraduate students conducting independent research projects or creative activities to apply for funding to support these efforts. The funding for Undergraduate Research and Creative Actvities (URCA) grants comes from university, federal, and private sources and is intended to cover a project’s expenses, including research-related domestic travel.
- University of California Leadership Excellence Through Advanced Degrees (UC LEADS) - UC LEADS is designed to identify upper-division UCSB undergraduate students with the potential to succeed in these disciplines, but who have experienced situations or conditions that have adversely impacted their advancement in their field of study. Once chosen as UC LEADS Scholars, the students embark upon a two-year program of scientific research and graduate school preparation guided by individual Faculty Mentors.
- Los Ingenieros
- Pre-Pharmacy Student Association
- Pre-Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA)
- Rho Psi Eta
- Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)
- Additional Student Organizations—Office of Student Life (OSL) - Explore organizations related to professional interests as well as the extracurricular activities you enjoy doing in your spare time.
- Greek Life—Office of Student Life (OSL)
- Leadership Certificate Program
- The Leadership Challenge
- Health and Wellness Certificate-This certificate provides students with experience in the field of wellness (including public health).
- Sports Management Certificate-This program offers a chance to gain insight to the sports management industry from both academic and practical perspectives.
- Group Fitness Certificate-This certificate allows students to learn skills and techniques in fitness leadership.
- Channel Islands Restoration
- Coal Oil Point Reserve Snowy Plover Docent Program and Habitat Restoration - Get involved with Coal Oil Point Reserve by volunteering with Snowy Plover Docent Program, habitat restoration, or as a tour leader. Check website for more info and how to become involved.
- Explore Ecology
- Santa Barbara Channelkeeper
- Toyon Research Corporation - Headquartered in Goleta, CA, Toyon is employee-owned with approximately 120 employees. Always seeking dedicated employees of high integrity to join the team in California and Virginia. A B.S., M.S., or Ph.D. degree in Engineering, Computer Science, Physics, Mathematics, or a related field is required for technical positions. All candidates must be U.S. Citizens.
State, National, International- Internship Programs & Related Opportunities
- Abbott Laboratories Internship Program (national, international) - Interns have the opportunity to work in functions that include engineering, science, finance, information technology and marketing. Candidates must be eligible to work in the U.S. without Abbott sponsorship, be enrolled in a major in a related discipline, and possess a willingness to travel and be placed anywhere throughout the United States.
- Argonne National Laboratory (national) - Argonne offers a number of internship programs across various science and technology disciplines that range from a seasonal appointment to a co-op experience.
- American Chemical Sciences (national) - The Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and the American Chemical Society created the SCI Scholars Summer Internship Program to introduce chemistry and chemical engineering students to careers in the chemical industry. Approximately 30 scholars will be chosen for internship positions.
- American Geographical Society (national) - The American Geographical Society (AGS) sponsors a Scholar-Internship Program throughout the year in its headquarters in Brooklyn Heights, New York.
- Amgen Internships and Co-Ops (state, national) - Amgen offers internship opportunities in most company functions, including Research and Development, Marketing, Information Systems, Manufacturing and other challenging areas. Our internship and co-op program spans our locations in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Paid internship assignments are designed for undergraduate and graduate level students.
- Aerospace (state, national) -
- Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT) Science and Engineering Workforce Development Program (National) - The ALERT team of educational institutions addresses the strong and continuing need for personnel trained in Department of Homeland Security technologies.
- Blue Ocean Society of Marine Conservation (national) - Blue Ocean is looking for enthusiastic, motivated people to join us as interns for 10-12 week sessions throughout the year. Summer Interns work one-on-one with our researchers/educators aboard commercial whale watch boats in the beautiful Seacoast, New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts areas, at our Blue Ocean Discovery Center in Hampton Beach, NH and at our outreach programs.
- Biology and Chemical Catalysis (national) - The REU site program in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Northeastern University offers interdisciplinary research opportunities in Biochemistry, Organic, Physical, and Analytical Chemistry laboratories with an overarching focus on the theme of Catalysis.
- Bolsa Chica Conservancy (state) - The Bolsa Chica Conservancy is dedicated to protecting this important ecosystem through leadership in science-based education, restoration, and community outreach. To apply send us a copy of your résumé along with the completed internship application.
- California Academy of Sciences (state) - The Volunteer Services Department of California Academy of Sciences provides a connection between the diverse Bay Area community and museum, research, and administration. All volunteers are part of the greater Academy community as we work to explore, explain, and sustain life on Earth.
- Center for Integrated Access Networks (national) - The Integrated Optics for Undergraduates (IOU) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program is designed for students interested in participating in hands-on research opportunities in top laboratories in optics and photonics. A stipend of $5,000 is provided. Housing and Travel are not included.
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (national)
- CenUSA BioENergy (national) - The CenUSA Bioenergy Research Internship Experience for Undergraduates will provide rich interdisciplinary training and engagement opportunities for undergraduate students in all areas of the bioenergy value chain. Students will be prepared to meet the workforce challenges of the emerging bioeconomy.
- Chevron (state, national) -
- Coastal Ocean Systems and Sustainability (state) - This NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program will support ten highly motivated and talented undergraduate students to conduct independent but guided research that focuses on Coastal Ocean Processes during an intensive 10-week program at the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island, CA.
- Conservation Volunteers International Program (national, international) - Conservation Volunteers International Program helps to sustain some of the world’s greatest landscapes and cultural sites. Our environmental conservation projects help extraordinary places.
- Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (national) - The Danforth Plant Science Center’s REU summer Internship program is held eleven weeks each summer and exposes students to a rich research environment. The program gives students experience with all aspects of modern scientific research, from design to experimentation to reporting.
- EPA Student Internships (national)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (national)
- Florida Atlantic University Marine Science Internship (national)
- Fred Hutch Summer Undergraduate Research Program (national) - The Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) is an intensive, nine-week internship designed to provide research experience and mentorship for undergraduate students who are interested in biomedical research. Under the guidance of a faculty mentor, interns will complete an independent research project and present their findings at a competitive poster session.
- Frontier Conservation Expeditions (international)
- Gentech Summer Internship Program (State) - As an intern or co-op, you will contribute daily to important projects and work side-by-side with biotech industry experts in a flexible and diverse work environment. Internships take place at headquarters in South San Francisco and facilities in the following locations: Vacaville, California, Oceanside, California and Hillsboro, Oregon.
- Global Green (state)
- Green America (state, national)
- Harvard Research Program in Ecology (national)
- IES Summer Research in Ecology (national) -
- INRoads (national)
- IRIS Generation Internship Program (national) - Your summer experience will begin with a one-week orientation held on the campus of an IRIS institution, followed by 8 to 10 weeks working on a seismological research project with researchers at an IRIS member intuition.
- Johnson and Johnson Internship (national, internship)
- Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Program (national) - The programs begin with a joint orientation weekend, followed by participation in a 10-week research project under the direction of a University of Minnesota faculty mentor and numerous special activities focused on professional development as well as social interaction.
- Los Alamos National Laboratory (national) - The Undergraduate Student (UGS) Program offers summer, part-time, and full-time appointments for undergraduate students. The program is a year-round educational program that provides students with relevant research experience while they are pursuing an undergraduate degree.
- Maryland Sea Grant, Chesapeake Bay (national) - Each summer, Maryland Sea Grant’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program supports fifteen students to conduct marine research on the Chesapeake Bay, which is a special opportunity to develop research skills and interests by working with top scientists to study one of America’s most significant coastal resources.
- Merck (state, national, international) - Merck offers a wide range of pharmaceutical career, professional and leadership opportunities for students and graduates from research and development and business technology to marketing and pharmaceutical sales.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Internship (state) -
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Internship (state)
- Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (national)
- NASA (national) - One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI) is a NASA-wide system for the recruitment, application, selection and career development of undergraduate and graduate students primarily in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. Opportunities for students in other disciplines are available.
- National Cancer Institute (national) - The cancer training and career development opportunities on National Cancer Institute (NCI)’s campus in Maryland cover a broad spectrum of disciplines for individuals at career stages ranging from high school students, graduate students, scientists, clinicians, and healthcare professionals.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Office of Coastal Management (national) - Check out several fellowship opportunities available to undergraduate students, such as Darling Marine Center Summer REU Fellowships and Maryland Sea Grant Research Experiences for Undergraduates Summer Fellowships.
- National Science Foundation (state, national) - The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects specifically designed for the REU program.
- Northrop Grumman (state, national)
- Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (national, international) - In addition to the full slate of scholarships, internships, and other research positions ORISE sponsors for undergraduates, there are also a limited number of positions with immediate availability for students currently pursuing their bachelor’s degrees.
- Oregon State Research Experience for Undergraduates (national)
- Our Underwater Scholarship Society (national)
- Pfizer Summer Internship Program (national, international) - The program, which offers summer employment opportunities at various Pfizer sites in the U.S., is designed to help Pfizer businesses and teams accomplish real, impactful projects, while giving students engaging and meaningful work experience.
- Research Experience for Undergraduates in Physics (national) - Students can choose a research experience from the areas of astrophysics, biophysics, gravitational wave detection, lasers and photonics, nano-science and advanced materials or radio, optical astronomy and applied physics, located at the University of Texas at Brownsville.
- Roswell Park Cancer Institute Undergraduate Research Internship (national) - Roswell Park Cancer Institute offers Summer Research Experience Program in Cancer Science that provides first-hand cancer research experience through working full-time on an independent project.
- SC Johnson (national)
- School For Field Studies (national, international) - The School for Field Studies (SFS) semester and summer programs are high-quality interdisciplinary academic, undergraduate-level programs that are accredited by the University of Minnesota.
- Sierra Club (state, national) - Sierra Club especially seeks interns who have been directly involved in conservation work and have good communication and writing skills. Regular intern rotations are in the fall, winter/spring, and summer but are flexible with other starting dates.
- Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (international)- STRI internships are intended for undergraduates, recent graduates (post-bachelor’s) and beginning graduate students interested in advancing their professional goals and intellectual skills under the guidance of a scientist working at STRI.
- Stanford Summer Research Program (state) - The Stanford Summer Research Program is an umbrella program that hosts students who are funded through various sources, including the Amgen Scholars Program, the Stanford Genetics Department, and the Stanford Medicine Dean's Office.
- Summer Research Early Identification Program (national) - The Leadership Alliance has encouraged students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities to pursue research careers in the academic, public and private sectors. The Summer Research - Early Identification Program (SR-EIP) provides undergraduates with training and mentoring in the principles underlying the conduct of research and prepares them to pursue competitive applications to graduate schools.
- Summer Undergraduate Research Program/Molecular and Quantitative Computational Biology (national) - The summer undergraduate research program is geared towards undergraduates who have a strong passion for scientific research and are seriously considering graduate studies in molecular biology or quantitative/computational biology.
- Summer Undergraduate Research Internship Program (SURIP) (national) - Penn State College of Medicine offers summer undergraduate research programs for college undergraduate students who are curious about careers in the biomedical sciences.
- UCSF Summer Research Program (State) - UC San Francisco offers exciting summer research opportunities for undergraduate students in the health sciences. Students selected for summer research at UC San Francisco spend up to ten weeks working with UCSF faculty members on research projects.
- US Department of Energy Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) (national) -
- Van Andel Research Institute (national) - The Summer Internship Programs are designed to provide undergraduate college students opportunities to be mentored by professionals in their chosen research field, to become familiar with the use of state-of-the-art scientific equipment and technology, and to learn valuable interpersonal and presentation skills.
- Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (national) -
- World Wildlife Foundation (state, national) - World Wild Life offers various types of jobs and internships, for instance, Forest Intern, Data Intern, Valuing Nature Initiative, and many more.
Find & Develop Your Own Internship
If you wish to propose an internship to a company that does not have an advertised position or a formal program, consider using Career's Internship Toolkit to help plan your proposal and agreement. The Toolkit offers tips and guidelines to help plan internship experiences, set expectations with supervisors, and reflect on the experience. The Internship Toolkit is available to download in the Document Library which can be accessed from your Resources tab when logged into GauchoLink