FIRe F.A.Q.s

What is FIRe?

FIRe stands for Fellowships, Internships, and Research experiences. The FIRe coordinator is charged with both advising students on fellowships, internships, and research experiences and coordinating with offices at Brown to make these opportunities more accessible to all students.

What are Fellowships?

Fellowships is a term that can be applied to a number of different opportunities. It is mostly used to refer to two kinds of things

  1. Opportunities where a group of people engage in academic work as peers. The Royce Fellowship for example is an opportunity where each accepted fellow works on their own research project during the summer and then during the school year they come together to have different discussions about their research as an academic community. The Cogut Fellowship is another example where undergraduates, graduate students, post-graduate fellows, and faculty members engage in a seminar style discussion of each others’ work, providing feedback and critique.
  2. Opportunities that are more like scholarships awarded to an individual for on the basis or merit and/or financial need. The Ford Fellowship is a popular one for underrepresented minority students looking to attend graduate school. It provides its recipients with three years of graduate school funding. The Anne Crosby Emery Alumnae Fellowship is awarded each year to honor women in the graduating class and to aid them in undertaking graduate or professional study at a university of their choice either in the U.S. or abroad.

Between and outside these categories are opportunities like the Fulbright Fellowship which have some community aspects at the same time as it supports either research in another country or English teaching in another country. Some Fellowships are specific to Brown and others are nationally competitive.  

To learn more about fellowships you can refer to the Fellowships@Brown Portal and the CareerLAB Exploring Options Portal on ASK as well as the CRC FIRe Blog. Please see the FIRe Resource page for more information and links to external databases.

What is an Internship?

Internships are a work opportunity where you get trained in the workings of the company that hires you. Internships may be paid or unpaid and this is something to keep an eye on as you look at different opportunities. Many internships take place during the summer but there are also internship opportunities you can pursue during the academic year.

The main places to search for internships are the BrownConnect website, the Jobs and Internships Board (JIB), and the Careers in the Common Good Database. Find more information about these databases and the differences between them here.

For unpaid internships during the academic year you can apply through the CRC for academic credit for your internship, this is called an Academic Internship. Please see the CRC Independent Study Advisers for more information.

The CareerLAB has a number of internship resources available here for finding and applying to internships. Depending on your specific field there may be different times in the year when most applications will be due so try to check-in with older people in your concentration or people you know who have had internships in that area.

What is Research?

Research refers to a lot of things and can vary between different disciplines and methods. History research will look different from Biology research and working with archives will feel different than conducting interviews. Both through Brown and through national and international programs there are many opportunities for Brown students to engage in research projects throughout their time at Brown and after graduating.

To learn more about research fellowships you can refer to the Fellowships@Brown Portal and the CareerLAB Exploring Options Portal on ASK. Other common research opportunities are through the Karen T. Romer Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award (UTRA) and Lab-work in Science, Technology and Engineering departments. See the FIRe Resources Page for more information.

Can I get paid to do these things?

Yes you can.

Many research opportunities involve some element of pay to support you in pursuing your research project. You may also pursue a research project for academic credit through a departmental independent study project (DISP) or (group) independent study project ((G)ISP). See the Independent Study advisers for more information about this process.

Fellowships may also involve payment either in terms of a stipend or in terms of a scholarship. Others may include some level of reimbursements for costs related to the fellowship. You should look closely at the opportunity’s requirements and benefits to see whether and how much they pay. If it is not specific you may inquire with the director of the fellowship about this information.

Internships can be paid or unpaid. If you have an unpaid internship or an internship with a very small paycheck you may apply for a LINK award to get a stipend for your internship, essentially Brown will pay you to do your unpaid internship. If the summer earnings expectation is a concern for you, you may be eligible for a Summer Earnings Waiver (SEW) Award.

If you are interested in community service work at a local organization you can apply for the Swearer Center’s Off-Campus Federal Work Study Program which provides funding.

How do I write an application for any of these things?

For an internship try looking at the CareerLAB’s internship resources as well as their resources for resumes and cover letters.

For a research or fellowship opportunity application these will really vary by the specific opportunity but in general they will focus on two sorts of questions 1) what sort of thing are you interested in and 2) why should they be interested in you. For research opportunities and research fellowships especially they will most likely be interested in some fairly specific area of interest including a proposal of a research project. You can come in to FIRe Open Hours to learn more about this process of project development and proposal writing. I also encourage you to utilize the Writing Center for going over your drafts as you prepare to submit any applications.

The most important things are to pay close attention to the submission deadlines for the whatever opportunities you are looking to apply to and to do multiple drafts so that you can develop your application.

For many different kinds of opportunities there is an interview component and you can refer to the CareerLAB’s resources for Interviewing for that but you can also come in to the office and we can talk about it.

What about supplemental materials?

If you need recommendation letters for something the general guideline is to ask for them as soon as possible, but at least a month before the deadline. Imagine a professor emailing you two nights before the deadline about something you’ve never heard of before and asking you to write a paper on it. In addition to requesting them early it can be helpful to have an in-person meeting with the person you are asking to write you a recommendation letter so you can ask them if they would be willing to write you a recommendation, tell them about the opportunity, and ask any of their questions about what you will be doing or what you would like them to focus on in the letter. Always be sure to send reminder emails a week before the deadline if they have not already submitted their letter. This advice is slightly different if the recommender is also supposed to be a faculty mentor or adviser for your research project (See below).

If they ask you to submit a writing sample from your academic work you will want to pick a paper you are proud of and if possible something that shows some of the skills they are asking other parts of your application to demonstrate. If it is something from a class you may consider emailing the instructor to have a meeting or an email conversation about how you might improve it. You may also utilize the Writing Center to receive some feedback.

They are saying something about a faculty adviser or faculty mentor, what is that?

For some research opportunities or research fellowships they will ask that you find a faculty mentor or adviser. This person is there to help you pursue the research and be a resource to you. They may help you develop the research skills you will need to pursue your project.

If you need a faculty mentor, as with a recommendation letter you want to be sure to ask them as soon as possible if they would be willing to be your faculty mentor for the project or opportunity since, depending on what it is, they may have to take on extra work and responsibilities to help you and you wouldn’t want them to come to your room two days before a deadline to ask if you can agree to help them with something for the next few months.

If you are trying to figure out who can be your faculty mentor you can use the Researchers@Brown portal to find information about faculty who have interests or research areas similar to what you want to do and then reach out to them.

This is nice, but I’m interested in getting a job since I’m graduating or taking time off. What should I do?

In that case some of the things I offered here about internships may be useful to you. For more advice I would direct you to the CareerLAB Jobs website.

I’m interested in graduate school do you have any information about that?

There is a CRC FIRe Grad School Infosheet that will be coming out in the next few weeks. For now I would direct you to the CareerLAB’s page on thinking about Graduate and Pre-professional school and Berkeley’s resource for thinking about Graduate School which is fairly comprehensive. You will also be interested in our post on the GRE, the standardized test needed for most graduate school applications. For thinking about grad school as the path to social change careers you can begin to look at the Idealist Grad School Resource Center. My (un)documented life has some tips for thinking about graduate school for undocumented students. I also highly recommend the well-stocked wiki How To Prep for Grad School While Poor.