Courtney Elwell

A native of the small town of Burnt Hills in upstate New York, Courtney Elwell is spending her first summer away from home. She runs every day, visits nearby beaches, and uses the rest of her time to develop her math and chemistry skills at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL) in New Jersey. Read more...

Home >HS-STEM Home > FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Benefits
Application
Review & Selection

 

Benefits

What travel expenses are covered by my internship?
If you choose to travel by plane or train, the Oak Ridge Institute for Science Education (ORISE) will make travel arrangements and purchase the plane or train tickets for you. You will have an opportunity to review your itinerary before the ticket is purchased. To help defray the cost of flying or shipping your personal belongings to and from the internship Hosting Site, you will receive up to $100 in reimbursement for luggage or parcel shipping expenses. If you plan to drive your personal vehicle, you will be reimbursed for actual mileage at the current U.S. General Services Administration mileage reimbursement rate up to a maximum of $350, one-way.

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Is there any financial help for housing?
Students are responsible for securing their own living space and determining their means of local transportation prior to arriving at the assigned Hosting Site. Some Hosting Sites provide assistance in locating housing and/or provide additional funds for housing. For more information, refer to the Site Information documents on the Hosting Sites page and contact the Hosting Site internship coordinators if additional information is required.

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Application

What makes a good reference?
References are asked to describe students’ Scientific Capabilities and Personal Characteristics and must specify how they know the students. The best references are from professionals who can speak to the applicant’s abilities and potential. The weakest references are those from personal (non-professional) acquaintances such us friends, relatives, neighbors.

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How do I choose a project?
First and foremost try to identify research projects of interest. Read the project descriptions carefully to find projects that best match your research interests and academic background. You may search the Project Catalog by keywords and filter projects by Disciplines, Research Areas and/or Hosting Sites.

Research mentors are listed for each project. You may contact the research mentors to better assess your interest in and to determine if you have the required academic background, skills and/or experience for the project. Identify yourself as an applicant to the DHS HS-STEM Summer Internship Program and keep in mind that the mentor does not have the authority to offer you or guarantee you a DHS-funded summer internship. Only ORISE, on behalf of DHS, can offer you a DHS-funded summer internship through this program. Mentors will be available to answer questions until the application deadline. After this date, you should not contact mentors until you have been notified that you have been selected to participate in the program and have been provided the details of your internship assignment.

Secondly, familiarize yourself with the Hosting Sites. Review the information provided for each Hosting Site concerning location, housing, on-site transportation or other information that may be of interest to you. Contact information of the Hosting Site internship coordinator is provided for further assistance with questions regarding the Hosting Site: local housing availability, cost or roommates; local transportation; security clearance requirements; internship start and end dates; and other administrative issues specific to that research facility. When contacting the internship coordinator, identify yourself as an applicant to the DHS HS-STEM Summer Internship Program.

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What makes outstanding essays?
Research Interests Essay: The best essays demonstrate an understanding of and genuine interest in the DHS mission and DHS mission-relevant research, as described in the DHS Research Areas. These essays define an area of research and one or more research problems that are of interest to the student and are also relevant to one or more DHS Research Areas. All essays should contain only original thought or properly attributed information.

Professional Goals Essay: The best essays provide insight into the career of interest, the steps that may be taken to achieve education and professional goals, how the internship experience will contribute to achieving those goals, and how the student's professional goals are aligned with the DHS mission.

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What are the GPA requirements?
Cumulative GPA of 3.30 or higher on a 4.00 scale as of Spring/Summer 2013 is required. You must enter the cumulative GPA for each academic institution listed on your application. If an institution does not calculate the GPA, you should try to calculate it using the key provided on the back of the transcripts.  Your GPA will be verified during the application review using the grades and credit hours available in the most current transcript (either Spring, Summer, or Fall 2013). Fall 2013 grades may be submitted if available, but they are not required. Note, however, that proof of Fall 2013 enrollment is required (see Supporting Documents for more information).

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Review & Selection

How will my application be reviewed?
Applications are reviewed by ORISE for eligibility and completeness and by DHS for strength and relevance to the DHS mission. Selected applications are then evaluated by the hosting sites chosen by the students. Mentors evaluate each application to determine if there is a match between the internship projects selected by the student and the student's knowledge, skills, and interests. If there is not a match at the student's first choice, an attempt is made to match at the student's second (and possibly third) choice. After matches are established, DHS approves project assignments and makes awards.

In evaluating student applications, DHS and hosting site researchers consider the student's academic record, reference reports, and essays. Preferences of the students and hosting sites are taken into consideration in assigning students to projects. All assignments are subject to DHS approval.

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How will I be notified when award selections are complete?
All selection notifications will be made by ORISE via email. It is anticipated that selections will be complete in March. Additionally, selection notification will be made to the hosting sites.

Hosting site representatives, including potential research mentors, do not have the authority to offer or guarantee DHS-funded summer internships to applicants to this program. Only ORISE, on behalf of DHS, can offer DHS-funded summer internships through this program.

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When and how do I provide proof of U.S. Citizenship?
Awardees must provide evidence of U.S. citizenship (such as a photocopy of a U.S. passport, birth certificate, Certificate of U.S. Naturalization or Certificate of U.S. Citizenship) after award notification.

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