Oct 1, 2013
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Hello all,

So I'll be finishing up my second year and all pre-reqs for the MCAT. I was intending on taking the exam in September 2014 (one of the last administrations of the current version). I also was looking into summer internships such as Amgen Scholars. I already have research experience and can easily spend my summer at my school doing a little research/volunteering, and self study for the MCAT, but I was wondering if a summer internship looks much nicer than what I just mentioned. I figure since most of these programs require full time work and include required GRE test prep courses and whatnot, that my MCAT prep time in the summer would be rather limited. Do you guys think that it is worth the investment pursing a summer internship, or is summer research in my lab + MCAT prep a better use of my time? Thanks.
 

justAstudent

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Apr 12, 2011
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I personally dedicated an entire summer to prep for the MCAT. The prep really took much more time than I anticipated. I started the summer with an MCAT course, once a week lab, and once a week hospital volunteer. I ended up dropping the research and volunteer within a week because I needed to really devote all my time to studying. I really wanted to only study once and have to take the test once. It worked out for me.
 
Aug 7, 2012
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I personally dedicated an entire summer to prep for the MCAT. The prep really took much more time than I anticipated. I started the summer with an MCAT course, once a week lab, and once a week hospital volunteer. I ended up dropping the research and volunteer within a week because I needed to really devote all my time to studying. I really wanted to only study once and have to take the test once. It worked out for me.
QFT. I devoted my Sophomore summer to the MCAT and am so glad I got it out of my life early on. It was more of a time commitment than I expected, and I expected a lot. Good luck
 

sunflower18

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Oct 23, 2011
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I worked ~30 hours a week and studied for the MCAT on top of that the summer after my sophomore year. I was super busy, really miserable, and didn't get as good of a score as I wanted. I'm glad I had 3.5 months to study without school, but I wish I hadn't had a job during that time period.

But!! I'm not retaking, and I'm soooo glad I'm done with the MCAT early on.
 
OP
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Oct 1, 2013
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Well an issue I had is that if I spend this entire summer studying for the MCAT, which is what I would prefer to do, that leaves only summer after junior year for a summer internship. I'd ideally be starting med apps at that time, so I'd have to juggle work with that as well. Given a standard mix of extracurriculars, does having that internship on my application carry enough weight for what it's worth? I do have parents and one of my research mentors saying I should apply, which is why I'm asking on this forum whether or not it's the best way to go right now. Or should I continue what I'm doing EC wise, and try to balance what I've got + MCAT prep?
 

snowflakes

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Jan 27, 2013
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I think LizzyM said that Amgen Scholars/other research internships is not necessarily better than continuing to research at your home institution. How long is your summer? Could you research at your usual lab (or do an internship if that's what you really want) for maybe 6-8 weeks of summer with some beginning MCAT prep, and then study full-time for the MCAT for the rest of the summer?

Personally, I put aside about 5ish weeks to prep full time for the MCAT, 1 week for a family vacation, and 8 weeks for a full-time research internship in my home school. It worked out for me and may be something for you to consider. (Note, this was my junior year summer. My sophomore year summer, I did a service project internship).
 
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OP
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about 12ish weeks? Most of the internships that I have looked at that happen to cater to a quarter system student take up the majority of that time. Amgen at my home school also happens to take the majority of my summer.

I think I see myself just spending my summer prepping for the MCAT while putting a little time in research in my lab, if Amgen/research internships are not substantially more impressive than getting in some good lab time. If this summer work were to lay the groundwork for a pub, or result in one outright, would this carry more weight than being able to put Amgen on my resume?
 
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snowflakes

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If this summer work were to lay the groundwork for a pub, or result in one outright, would this carry more weight than being able to put Amgen on my resume?
I'm no expert (just another applicant) but I would most definitely imagine so. Research productivity/output, I believe, is what counts the most.
 

Catalystik

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If this summer work were to lay the groundwork for a pub, or result in one outright, would this carry more weight than being able to put Amgen on my resume?
Yes. Continuity in a single location is more likely to result in productive (and eventually creative) work, and would be a far better basis for a meaningful Letter of Recommendation.
 

nemo123

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I did a summer program after my sophomore year and while I didn't study for the MCAT, I had friends who were studying while working in lab. It seemed to work out for them (most of our lab hours were from 9:30-5:30). They used to study in between experiments and after they came back from lab. They still hung out with us on weekends and on random week nights when they didn't feel like studying.

From what I saw, it's doable. Plus summer programs are usually between 8-10 weeks (9-10 if you're thinking of AMGEN), so you should have another 5 more weeks of full MCAT prep before and after the program.

As for a pub/poster, I do know of a handful of people who were able to get pubs from their summer programs experiences and many more whose research was presented after conferences afterwards. The thing about summer research experiences is that labs (and the program) try to maximize your experience while you're there so you can get something meaningful out of it. On top of that, most summer programs have a poster symposium at the end.
 
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Oct 27, 2013
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If you have research ongoing at your home institution, I would suggest continuing that instead, perhaps for less of a time commitment than programs like Amgen would require (20 hours a week sounds ideal) and possibly pulling out a poster presentation or a publication out of it. In the end, that'll show more for your extracurricular record and MCAT score.