SUGGESTED TIMELINE FOR MS1s PURSUING SUMMER RESEARCH
Here is a general timeline that we suggest for MS1s who are interested in doing research during the summer between their MS1 and MS2 years. This may not be appropriate for all students or all types of experiences students may pursue, but it is a conservative guideline to help ensure you are giving yourself enough time to get the most out of your summer.
September/October: Start thinking about what you might be interested in doing over the summer. Check out departmental websites, go to some informational panels that the med school puts on about research and summer opportunities, attend some departmental talks or rounds you find interesting, and check out the Vital Signs emails to see some of the interesting things going on at UNC Hospitals.
November/December: Start to get serious about making your plans. If you want to work with a principal investigator (PI) at UNC, start reaching out to people you may be interested in working with. Emailing them is always a good place to start; indicate your interest in their work, give one or two sentences about any applicable background or experience you have, and ask to meet them at their office or for coffee at a time that is convenient for them. They may ask to see a copy of your CV (curriculum vitae), so make sure you have an updated copy on hand. If you need guidance on how to make or update your CV, you can navigate to our Office of Student Affairs guidelines for CVs and personal statements. The earlier you start emailing, the better, because you may get several “no”s or non-responses before you find someone with an open position. If you want to apply for a fellowship or a position that has an application portal, start to look ahead at when those dates and deadlines might be (most are in late January to late February for the upcoming summer). Many of the funding applications will require some proposal or plan for your research, a reference letter from your research mentor or PI, plus maybe a second letter from a professor within the School of Medicine. Getting on this early will give you enough time to ask the appropriate people for letters or forms and prepare your applications.
January/February: Submit your funding applications. If your ability to do research over the summer relies on you getting funding, we suggest applying to two or three sources, instead of just one. This gives you a bit more security, just in case you don’t get awarded funding from one or two of those sources. Additionally, not all awards will necessarily cover your full budget, so if two different funding sources each grant you half of your requested budget, you can keep both (but you cannot keep more than one award if it exceeds your requested amount).
March/April: This is when most funding will become available to you (either by direct deposit or check). At this time, you can start making travel and/or housing arrangements if you haven’t already. Also be sure to inform your PI if you are awarded funding, thank them for their support, and reiterate your enthusiasm for working with them this summer.
End of May: Last day of classes for MS1s. (Classes will restart at the beginning of August, so ensure that your PI knows when you will need to finish up.)