IMPORTANT: Students with an F-1 visa may work on-campus, but they are not permitted to have off-campus jobs or paid internships. They are allowed to have unpaid internships.
An undergraduate research experience has wonderful advantages. You can delve more deeply into a specific area of interest, and you can learn first-hand about research to determine if you would like to pursue advanced study in a subject area. Many graduate and professional schools highly value undergraduate research experience in their admission processes. Participating in a research project also presents the opportunity to perhaps be a co-author of a published paper, to present your findings at a conference, and to obtain personalized letters of recommendation from the faculty with whom you have worked.
Many international students who come to Davis are interested in finding an internship or research assistant position. There are three primary types of internships.
- On-campus Job
To find an on-campus job, most students use the Aggie Job Link. The Aggie Job Link is maintained by the Internship and Career Center (ICC). Located on the 2nd and 3rd floors of South Hall, the ICC provides undergraduate and graduate students with resources and advice on how to get an on-campus internship or job. The ICC offers drop-in advising, group advising and online resources—all designed to help students find, apply for and receive credit for internships.
If a department wants to hire a student in their office or lab, they will usually inform the ICC and post the position on the Aggie Job Link. Keep in mind that the Aggie Job Link is only available to students who are currently enrolled in a UC Davis class.
- Off-campus Internship
Remember that students with an F-1 visa may not hold paid internship positions.
The ICC can also offer help with finding off-campus internships through the Aggie Job Link. Remember to attach your cover letter and résumé or CV to your application. The résumé and cover letter are particularly important, as they are how you introduce yourself to your potential employer. If you would like help writing or editing your résumé or cover letter, you can visit the ICC. You may choose to schedule an appointment with a writing specialist for detailed help, or you can use the drop-in hours and speak with a peer.
- On-campus Internship
Many UC Davis professors are also full-time researchers. The first step in finding a research mentor is identifying faculty with whom you would like to work. Previous students have found mentors through classes with research professors, a recommendation from the department, or by reviewing a professor’s previous work. Keep in mind that some professors will require that you have already completed certain courses in preparation for research. Schedule a meeting with that professor and ask about research volunteers. Even if that professor doesn’t have a current opening, he or she may be able to recommend another colleague. It is also acceptable to write a polite email to professors asking if they know of any labs that have open positions.
It is important for the student to provide a timeline and explain that he/she will not be paid due to visa restrictions. Some professors require that students do research for more than one quarter, so it is important to discuss the duration of the position.
It is generally a good idea to arrange a research internship at least one quarter ahead of when you will actually begin the project. This gives the professor time to plan the research project, and it allows you the opportunity to complete any additional courses you will need before beginning your research.
Teaching assistants (TAs) can also provide insight into attaining an on-campus internship. Communicate to them your interests, and they may be able to offer you advice or a referral.
If you have an internship on campus, then you can take the internship for credits. You and your professor must work together to determine the appropriate number of units. Generally, every unit assigned indicates three hours of work per week.