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The 2021 NIH Virtual Summer Internship Program

Even though the 2021 NIH Summer Internship Program (SIP) will be entirely virtual, we aim to provide you with a full-time biomedical research experience.  It is our hope that many of you will decide to include research as an important component of your future career, and we hope you will end the summer with a deeper understanding of how scientific investigation works and what it entails.  Although research should be your first priority during your virtual stay at the NIH, we encourage you to find the time to participate in career development activities and reach out to the community around you.

This page provides an overview of the 2021 Virtual Summer Internship Program. Check out the Summer Intern News page for more specific information on the activities planned for 2021 Virtual Summer Interns and how the program will work.

Summer interns at the NIH include

  • high school students who are at least 17 years of age by June 15, 2020,
  • college students and individuals who will be starting college in the fall,
  • graduate students (that is, individuals working towards a PhD or master's degree), and
  • professional school (medical, dental, pharmacy, etc) students.

Altogether, the NIH is home to about 1200 interns each summer, all of whom are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.  Interns come from most states and the District of Columbia as well as from Puerto Rico and sometimes Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) works with the Training Offices in the NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) to ensure that your summer experience is as rewarding as possible.  We aim to help all NIH trainees become creative leaders in the biomedical research community.  In addition to participating in the training activities offered by your IC, please be certain to take advantage of OITE career and professional development activities and the OITE Career Services Center.  A big part of our job is helping you prepare for the next stage in your career.  We can assist you with applying to college or to graduate or professional school, evaluating career options, and improving your communication skills.  You may also be interested in joining one of our summer journal clubs.  In 2021 these small groups will meet 4-6 times between June 14th and July 30th to discuss selected papers in particular research areas.

The Postbaccalaureate and Summer Research Program (PSRP) in OITE is specifically responsible for summer interns.  When you begin your internship

  • if you are participating in SIP, be sure to register for and "attend" one of the OITE workshops entitled "Planning a Successful NIH Summer Internship" (sessions will be held on Friday mornings in June; if you are participating in HS-SIP, register for and "attend" one of the required summer orientations for high school students offered by the OITE (June 21st or 28th) OR the required orientation in your IC before you join your research group; check Upcoming Events for time and place of OITE events);
  • attend an Orientation in your Institute/Center;
  • read the 2021 Summer Handbook;
  • make certain you are included on one of the official summer listservs, OITE-HS-SIP or OITE-SIP and check out other listservs that may interest you;
  • create an "NIH Trainee/Fellow" account for yourself on the OITE website so that you can make appointments with career counselors, register for Summer Presentation Week, and access the Alumni Database (IMPORTANT NOTE: you will need a functioning NIH email address to create this account. If your IC or research group will not be providing you with an NIH email address, create a "Guest" account with your personal email address, and contact us when you need access to restricted services (e.g., to register for Summer Presentation Week or an appointment with a career counselor);
  • check out our online resources on topics like "Keeping a Lab Notebook", "Choosing a Mentor", "Writing Professional Email", "Lab Math", and "Reading a Scientific Article";
  • Register for a Summer Journal Club;
  • Sign up to follow the OITE Careers Blog and get an informative blog post delivered to your email once a week; and
  • Last, but certainly not least, having a community with which to share the NIH experience is often a large part of feeling comfortable here. The NIH is home to many organized virtual communities. Take a moment to check them out.

Important note: should you decide to use social media during the summer, remember that including the NIH name, logo, or images is not allowed.  Only personal email accounts and wording that avoids associating your materials with the NIH are permitted.

Summer activities offered by the PSRP include scientific skills workshops; workshops devoted to getting to graduate school and getting to medical school; and a special series for high school students. In addition, several of NIH's most distinguished researchers will talk about their science and career paths in the Summer Lecture Series.  Keep your eyes open for two major summer events: Summer Presentation Week, held at the beginning of August, which will allow you to share the results of your research with the NIH community, and the virtual Graduate & Professional School Fair, which is attended by representatives of more than 300 institutions from across the U.S.

Check out the Summer Intern News page for more specific information on the activities planned for 2021 Virtual Summer Interns.