If you’re a high school student passionate about STEM and are seriously considering a career in this field, especially in research, then internships should be on your radar as a way to apply what you learn. Internships are a great way to show a college’s admissions office that you have demonstrated interest in the subject, and they show any future employer sustained interest and passion for your chosen field.
In this blog, we’ll cover the U.S. Navy’s Science and Engineering Apprentice Program (SEAP)!
SEAP gives high school students who excel at academics the opportunity to learn about naval research and technology in the Navy’s laboratories spread across the country.
What is the SEAP Internship?
SEAP is an eight-week intensive internship during which the Department of the Navy (DoN) places around 300 high school students in one of its 38 laboratories spread across the country. Interns learn about research conducted by the Navy and the technology they use, and have the unique opportunity to be mentored by the Navy’s top researchers and scientists.
What STEM-related subjects can I research as part of the program?
Different Navy laboratories across the country offer different fields of research. Depending on your interest, you can choose one or more of the following subjects:
Management and Leadership
Statistics and Probability
Who is eligible to apply?
To apply for the SEAP internship, you have to meet the following criteria:
Must be a high school student and have completed grade 9
Must be currently enrolled in high school (graduating seniors can apply)
Must be at least 16 years of age by the start of the internship
Must be a U.S. citizen
Some labs do make exceptions for age and citizenship status. Check the individual lab pages for details.
What do I need to apply?
To apply for the internship, you first need to gather and submit the following documents:
Recommendations (SEAP will send an email to your referee)
Personal statement and career and research interests
When is the application period?
For the 2024 cohort, the application period is from August 1, 2023, to November 1, 2023. Applications for the next cohort will open on the same dates in 2024.
Is the internship paid?
Yes! The Navy offers a competitive stipend of $4,000 for new participants and $4,500 for returning participants, paid bi-weekly. Remember that SEAP does not cover/ provide additional allowance for housing, food, transportation, etc.
Is SEAP Prestigious?
Yes, SEAP is very prestigious. The program is fully funded with a stipend of up to $4,500 and the Navy is extremely selective when choosing successful candidates. It will not fill up all of the 300 placements if it does not find the right candidates. In 2020, 938 students applied but only 28 students — 3% — were offered placements. Similarly, 1,286 students applied in 2019 with an acceptance rate of 8% (108 students), and 114 and 113 students were accepted in 2018 and 2017, with acceptance rates of 13% respectively.
Here are 8 reasons why we think you should apply:
If you’re selected, you’re part of a very short list By the Navy’s own admission, the program is competitive, with up to 300 placements in 38 laboratories spread across the county. Your grades, personal statements, recommendations, and overall career and research interests are extremely important. As mentioned earlier, the Navy is highly selective when choosing successful candidates and will not fill up all the open positions if it does not find the right candidates.
You’ll receive s a competitive stipend As mentioned above, the Navy pays new participants in the eight-week program $4,000 and returning participants $4,500, making it more accessible to talented students who may not otherwise have the financial resources to move to another city/state and pay for food, housing, transport, etc for the duration of the program.
You’ll add a lot of prestige value to your college application Working in a naval research laboratory, interacting with highly accomplished scientists, and the opportunity to take part in ongoing naval research will be highly valued on any college application.
You’ll get to travel and attend conferences The program permits you to travel (and pays for associated expenses) to conferences and associated events related to your field of study.
You’ll be mentored by and get to interact with the Navy’s top scientists One of the SEAP Program’s unique features is that you learn about naval research and technology and assist your mentors (DoN’s scientists and engineers) on the projects they are working on. It can’t get more hands-on than this! Interns are also exposed to researchers working in the field: for example, the 2022 cohort was able to interact with Dr. Robert Ballard and quiz him about his work. Dr. Ballard is a researcher conducting deep-sea exploration in the E/V Nautilus, a submarine dedicated to mapping unknown regions of the ocean. He is famously known for discovering the wreck of the Titanic.
You can use the internship to join the Navy’s research laboratories full-time The Navy’s intention behind establishing its internship program was to identify candidates who could potentially further their careers as naval scientists and engineers. SEAP is a great way to define your college experience by giving you hands-on experience and also opens pathways to return to the Navy if you so choose. Once you complete your SEAP internship, the Navy encourages you to intern with them again through its college-level Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program (NREIP). Many former interns have completed their education and returned to work in the Navy’s laboratories. For example, Zachary Storti, a computer science SEAP and later NREIP intern, later became a cybersecurity expert at the Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic (NIWC Atlantic) in Charleston, S.C., where he originally interned.
You may have a greater shot at being selected if you are from an underrepresented community The Navy has noted the disproportionate amount of applicants and interns who are white males and is now tracking demographic statistics with a view to adopting diversity and inclusion practices in its selection process. The Navy wants to increase internship opportunities for marginalized and underrepresented groups in STEM, especially women, African Americans, and Hispanics. In 2020, 36.7% of SEAP interns were women, 14.3% African American, and 3.6% Hispanic. If you belong to one of these groups, you should consider applying.
You can use the quad chart you create as part of the internship to showcase your work The chart is a DoN-approved product that states the project/experiment you worked on with your mentor and clearly shows your contribution, which is extremely valuable when you have to show a demonstrated interest in your college application. It mentions the project’s objective, the work your mentor assigned you and what you managed to achieve, future applications for the research you conducted, and your takeaways from the project. Previous projects interns worked on include developing new submarine life support systems, researching new methods to control battery fires, and preserving the human skeleton, among others. You can see more examples of interns’ work here.
Our final thoughts on the program
We really like the program for the opportunity it gives hard-working, passionate high school students to experience STEM research, its competitive stipend, and the potential job opportunities. It isn’t easy to get in, so we suggest you take your time to write a strong personal statement and not rush your application. If you’re interested in the program but don’t think you’ll be able to do it while you’re in high school, then check out the Navy’s college-level internship opportunity, the Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program.
Bonus — the Lumiere Research Scholar Program
If you are interested in doing university-level research in STEM subjects, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, over 4000 students applied for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.
Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.
Kieran Lobo is a freelance writer from India, who currently teaches English in Spain.