What is a UROP?

As summer is approaching, this is the time of the year where students are all panicking about finding a summer internship to ensure that they have a fruitful summer. Students often search for summer internships for a few reasons. Some students would like to use summer internships to gain more exposure to the different industries they are hoping to land a graduate job in, as experiences in industry allows them to apply the knowledge they have learned throughout the year and to enhance their passion for the course too. Employees love to see students who go an extra mile to learn something, and it increases your chances of getting hired significantly. Besides that, some students search for summer internships to evaluate what do they want in life. Even though a large majority of students have a set idea of what industry they want to go into when they graduate, there remains a larger majority who are still finding the right path for themselves. Summer internships are one of the best resources for students to expose themselves to different industries and to gain more insights into the daily lives of working in different industries.

Although students often source for internships through career fairs and external sources, I want to bring everyone’s attention to an amazing opportunity that can be found in Imperial – UROP. UROP stands for Undergraduate Research Opportunity Programme and through this blog, I hope to give everyone a better understanding of what a UROP entails and how you might be able to apply for one.

What is a UROP and how can you apply for one?

UROP is a summer research opportunity hosted by Imperial and is run by different professors from different departments. It is an amazing opportunity for students to gain experience in the research and development field and to also enhance their understanding of the theory that has been taught in class. Lecturers in Imperial normally undergo research during term time, and during summer break, they will open up their research for students who might potentially want to help out with it during their 3 months summer break. As an exclaimer, I have not undergone a UROP myself as of now, but I will be working on a UROP project this summer and have undergone all the application processes, so I hope I will be able to guide everyone on that process through this blog.

UROPs last from a minimum of 6 weeks to a maximum of 12 weeks. It is opened to all students, regardless or not whether you are studying in Imperial. To apply for a UROP, it is essential to decide on which lecturer or project you would be interested in working on. Some UROPs are advertised on the departmental website, but some UROPs are not advertised by your lecturers. However, they are more than often happy to cater and form a personal UROP project with you based on their project and what you desire to learn. Sometimes, your department will also send out some UROP opportunities through email so keep a lookout on that!

After you have heard back from a lecturer, try to set up a meeting with them to discuss about an opportunity and for you to get to know each other better as well. Be aware that as a lot of students are searching for UROPs as well, some lecturers might not be able to take up more than one student and you would have to search for another lecturer to work under. After you have searched for a suitable project and a lecturer to supervise you on it, you will then proceed to apply for funding. Even though UROPs are not paid opportunities, Imperial does offer a range of different bursaries to some of their students to allow them to support themselves in London while working on the project. The application for the bursary opens during January and ends at around February. Results for the bursary allocation will be announced during April. Bursary amounts range from £250 to £350 a week. To apply for the bursary, students are required to talk about their project, the potential contributions to society, and also the student’s motivations and expectations.

Through the pandemic, some UROPs have been changed to a remote setting as well, allowing students to work in the safety of their own homes while gaining a similar exposure. I hope that some of you might find this useful and remember that even if you find it difficult to secure a summer internship this year, remember that there are a lot of other activities you can think of doing to keep yourself productive and have a fruitful summer such as volunteering, spending time with family or even pick up a new hobby! Most importantly is that I hope everyone manages to do something that they enjoy and they find the most personal meaning in.

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