What Is an Academic Internship?

8 May, 2023 | Online Internships

Gaining work experience is a fantastic way to help you stand out from the crowd when it comes to university applications, but what kind of internship is best for high school students?

This will mostly depend on your subject interests and your goals beyond university. In this article, we’re looking into academic internships – an option you might not have heard much about before.

So, without further ado…

Student working on laptop

What is an academic internship?

Academic internships are placements that offer you the opportunity to develop your research and analytical skills. They can take a variety of forms, but all tend to centre on applying your knowledge in a real-life context and learning more about a field of study outside the traditional classroom.

Examples of academic internships can range from medical shadowing to being on a research team, a great way to see if a particular field is a right fit for you!

What will I do during an academic internship?

During an academic internship, you will have the opportunity to meet professionals in your sector, and experience what their day-to-day life is like. This means you can gain first-hand experience of the subject, rather than relying on online research or word of mouth.

Depending on the programme, your internship might involve working with a host organisation on a predetermined topic, such as researching the impacts of COVID on medical healthcare. Alternatively, you could be responsible for working with a client to assess their needs and plan a project from the very beginning.

Both of these options are valuable, as they each reflect the real working projects of professionals in your field.

What kinds of academic research are there?

Each academic internship will be different, but in most sectors there will be an option to work on a piece of research alongside a team comprising of other interns and an expert mentor/manager.

For example, if you’re considering pursuing a career in law, then an academic internship will give the chance for you to dive deep into an aspect of law, while shadowing a barrister would involve less detailed research.

This allows for a more engaging experience, with most programmes then requiring a final written piece of academic work or presentation highlighting your accomplishments.

Although this may seem daunting, it’s great practice ahead of university, as you’ll have a mentor guiding you through the process and giving you detailed advice on how to complete the task.

What is the role of a mentor during an internship?

Whatever kind of internship you’re completing, academic or otherwise, you will in all likelihood be assigned a mentor and/or manager. Make the most of this contact! Their role is to help you perform to the best of your ability, but also to answer any questions you might have about the field, their career to date, or the degree that they studied.

In an academic internship specifically, mentors can guide you through the academic writing process – standing you in excellent stead for the start of your degree! Mentors can also challenge your ideas, giving you the chance to think more critically about the sector and hone your ability to articulate your views. 

What skills will I develop during an academic internship?

It goes without saying that an academic internship allows you to develop a variety of skills in a relatively short period of time.

Working as part of a research team means attending frequent meetings to discuss your work and your next steps, sharing ideas clearly and developing more advanced team working skills than you will at school. 

The experience of learning and researching in a more formal setting allows you to develop your intellectual independence in a way that can be more challenging at school. For example, when completing a research internship you’ll find that you are encouraged to consider the sources you come across carefully, assess their biases and evaluate whether or not they are reliable enough to include in your work.

If you’re completing a STEM-focused academic internship, you’ll also likely get to apply your data analysis skills to real life problems. Data analysis is a really important skill for STEM degrees at university, so getting a head start on it is really valuable!

The process of then communicating your thoughts to a wider audience, whether by writing a research paper, presenting to a group, or both, will help develop academic writing, presentation and public speaking skills.

This allows for a more engaging experience, with most programmes then requiring a written piece of academic work or a presentation highlighting your accomplishments. Although this may seem daunting, it’s great practice before coming to university as you’ll have a mentor guiding you through the process and giving advice on how to complete the task.

What are the academic internship opportunities at OxBright?

Here at the OxBright, we offer a range of academic internships that students can carry out in subjects such as online Economics internships, Medicine internships, and Law research internships. These all offer the chance to work with an international group of young people, which is an experience like no other, and the skills you will gain from your mentor will be invaluable as you prepare for further study.

We offer interns the chance to explore highly topical subjects in-depth, developing research and communication skills along the way. By the end of the internship, each group will have co-authored a high-quality research paper, which will then be considered for publication on OxJournal

Completing an academic internship will enable you to stand out when it comes to future applications, especially at competitive UK universities where academic experiences are valued highly during the admissions process.

Is an Academic Internships the right fit for you?

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