The Economista: Summer Plans

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Welcome to The Economista! My name is Andy Pham and I will be giving you weekly tips and tricks on how to budget, save money, and have inexpensive fun at Brown!

During March and April at Brown, you can hear students discussing two popular topics: next semester’s courses and summer plans. The first topic is a pretty standard one that you expect coming into college. The second is something that was entirely new to me when I came to this campus.

My typical summers included catching up on sleep, Netflix, and working. Something like an internship was nowhere in my mind. This was probably partly due to the fact that nobody at my school typically did anything major during the summer.

This isn’t true at Brown. I have friends that just secured internships and fellowships that focus on a variety of super cool topics. I have one friend that is getting paid to do environmental research in Michigan and another who will be going on a 20 day leadership training in the mountains. These are but just a couple of examples of the opportunities out there.

And yes, these opportunities are available to low-income students as well. It’s hard to imagine being paid thousands of dollars as part of a paid internship but yes, that is entirely possible and common. So for this post, I will be focusing on ways of finding things to do this summer that won’t burn a hole into your pocket.

Brown Connect

This website was created for alumni to post their opportunities in one central place for current students to find. However, there are plenty of opportunities on here that aren’t through alumni as well. You can find every imaginable opportunity out there through Brown Connect from interning in Washington D.C. for politics to working under a neurosurgeon in California. Brown Connect will also tell you what internships are funded and what aren’t.

If you aren’t able to secure something through these applications then there is always the alumni network. Through Brown Connect you can find alumni to connect with and ask them about shadowing or volunteering. Typically, a lot of them are quite receptive and willing to help current Brown students! For the ones that may not answer their emails, fear not because the alumni network is thousands strong.

Link Award

Really interested in a specific internship but unsure about applying because it is low-paying or completely unpaid? Fear not because Brown has the Link Award Program!

This award is designed to help students have funding for internships that are low paying or completely unpaid. It is a great award that allows students to take advantage of opportunities that they may not otherwise be able to.

The only downside to this award are the two due dates. For me personally, these deadlines are too early as I have not even heard back from some of my internships yet about the status of my application. However, if you do apply to internships that tell you their decision before the deadline, then this is a fantastic program to take advantage of!

Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards (UTRA)

The UTRA program allows students to find funding for research that they may be interested in. You can apply for them in the Summer, for a semester, for an international project, and more!

Typically, the student will have to find a faculty member that will overlook their research but this isn’t known to be hard since faculty here are so passionate about what they study. This is another great program to take advantage of during your time here at Brown.

The only thing to consider though is that you can only receive this award once during your four years here, so think about when you think would be the best time to use it!

Summer Courses

If you are a low-income student, then you are most likely eligible for a summer grant that pays for a course at Brown over the summer. Maybe you want to focus on organic chemistry or try a literary arts class for fun. With the summer grant, anything is possible!

The only downside though is that you have to figure out housing on your own. One popular avenue to take though is becoming a Summer at Brown RA. Under this role, you will be living in the dorms with high schoolers as their resident assistant. This will guarantee you housing on Brown’s campus, and you will also be paid!

Do Nothing

With a lot of pressure from peers and feeling like you should have an internship, it can be hard to decide to not do anything major your first Brown summer. However, as I have learned from many upperclassmen: this is okay. There is nothing wrong with going back home and just working for the summer. There is nothing wrong with watching some Netflix. There is nothing wrong with maybe doing some volunteering at a local clinic.

It can be hard to feel like the only one without some big paying internship, but it is totally okay to not have one as well! The transition to Brown can be hard enough as is, you don’t need to make it harder by constantly comparing yourself to others. It’s a hard habit to break, but one to definitely work towards breaking.


Hopefully some of these ideas will be useful! These are just some of the things that I know about now and will be definitely taking advantage of in the future. However, there is so much more out there! For example, I didn’t write about study abroad programs that much because I don’t know much about them. Yet, there are plenty of study abroad opportunities for low-income students as well!

I will try to add on to this list if I learn of any more opportunities!

Thank you for reading, and until next time! 

Andy 

I am open to any and all ideas, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have! If you have any suggestions, questions, or comments you can e-mail me at andy_pham@brown.edu . Thanks!

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