Academics & Research

How do I find an internship?

You have probably heard of the importance of internships: you gain experience, can land you a job when you graduate, and sometimes you can even make money. But how does one actually secure an internship? It can be a frustrating process, but we’ll give you some helpful hints and resources to make your search a bit easier.

First, it’s important to understand what type of internship you are looking for. Accounting? Law? Government? Paid or unpaid? Determining exactly what you are looking for will prepare you for a more successful search. If you are unsure, try browsing several job search websites and reading job descriptions, or schedule an appointment with a Career Services Industry Advisor.

Second, begin the search! Mason’s Career Services office is a great first resource. They run Handshake, a Mason-affiliated job search website much like Indeed but catered towards Mason students. One of the great benefits of Handshake is that employers that post offerings on the site are looking to hire Mason students specifically. This can give you a leg up during the application process.

Career Services also hosts various career fairs throughout the year. Career fairs are an excellent opportunity to network with prospective employers. Remember to dress well and attend one of Career Services prep session before attending!

LinkedIn, Indeed, and other job search websites are good resources too. Here you can find which employers are currently hiring and open job positions, including internships. If you are looking for an internship within the government USAJobs and IC Careers are the best places to look. Remember, some government internships will require applicants to undergo a stringent clearance process. Career Services offers a comprehensive program to help students prepare for the process.

If there is a company or organization you know you’d like to apply to, it is best to go straight to their website and apply directly.

Third, go through the application process. Preparing for the application process can be a challenging feat. I recommend reading Career Services’ Career Readiness Guide, which contains vast tips, tricks, and resources.

After applying, almost all internships will require an interview – some even require multiple. You must be prepared beforehand. Again, Career Services offers amazing interview preparatory programs. You can also practice alone through InterviewStream. The interview is often the most important aspect of any job application. This is your chance as an applicant to showcase your personality, skills, as well as ask questions and learn more.

If you have any feedback or questions, please reach out to

Academics & Research

How do I participate in undergraduate research?

Participating in undergraduate research is an amazing experience regardless of your major or areas of interest. Mason has made it possible for any undergraduate student to have the opportunity to pursue individualized research regardless of their interests. There are three primary avenues to pursue undergraduate research (not including the Honors college).

Option One: OSCAR

The Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR) is the primary home to undergraduate research opportunities. They are a go-to source for students looking to pursue undergraduate research.

Students can request to be a research assistant in which they help faculty work on their research projects. Students are introduced to the concept of scholarship, learn the research or scholarly methods in their field, and provide faculty free project support. You can learn more here.

Students can also apply for the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. This program provides students with funding to conduct original research under the guise of experienced faculty mentors. You can find more information here.

OSCAR provides a ton of resources to students, so we highly recommend you visit their website to learn more.

Option Two: Ask you academic advisor.

Your academic advisor may be able to connect you with a faculty member in your field of interest who could use your help. Feel free to reach out personally to your advisor to find out if there is an opportunity for you.

Option Three: Ask a faculty member.

Many professors may currently have their own research projects. If you are interested in their field, consider asking if they could use help or if you could learn more about their endeavors. Sometimes professors will agree to sponsor you for an independent research course.

If you have any feedback or questions, please reach out to

Academics & Research

How do I figure out my class schedule?

Finding or creating your class schedule online is easy. Before you begin, ensure that you have met with your academic advisor to review your course progression.

Option One: Log into to PatriotWeb, click ‘Student Services’, ‘Registration’, ‘Registration and Planning’, ‘Register for Classes’, and then select the semester. Here you can search for classes. Once you have registered, you will see a panel on the main page with your schedule. Note that this schedule will not show distance learning (online) courses.

Option One Schedule Example

Option Two: Log into to PatriotWeb, click ‘Student Services’, ‘Registration’, Patriot Scheduler – Sign On’, and then select the term. Begin by selecting the campuses you want Patriot Scheduler to show you courses from. Add courses to your list by selecting ‘Add Course’. Once you have added your desired courses, return to the main page, scroll to the bottom, and click ‘Generate Schedules’. Patriot Scheduler will automatically create schedules based on the courses you picked. You can view each individual schedule.

Option Two Schedule Example

Once you have picked the schedule or set of classes you want, you can either click ‘Send to Plan Ahead’ on the schedule page, which will send your desired courses to the registration system, or you may simply remember the course CRNs and register manually through the registration system.

If you are running into trouble at any stage, contact your academic advisor.

If you have any feedback or questions, please reach out to

Academics & Research

How do I improve my GPA?

Improving a poor grade point average (GPA) is not “Mission Impossible”. Before moving forward, please know that your GPA is not reflective of your self worth. Everyone has different skills, strengths, and talents that they rely on, and a poor GPA does not diminish your self worth.

Here are several steps you can take to help improve your GPA:

Step One: Understand your academic weaknesses and strengths.

It is important you first understand the root cause of the problem before you address it.

If you are having trouble pointing to a specific problem, sit down with a trusted advisor, professor, mentor, or family member to discuss the topic. Ask them for their candid opinions on areas for improvement. Sometimes you will learn about a weakness you had not noticed before.

Perhaps more importantly is understanding your strengths. When your professor assigns a programming challenge are you thrilled? Do research essays brighten your day? Is a tough math problem a joy to solve? Take note of your strengths.

Step Two: Capitalize on your strengths.

Identify courses that will help you improve your strengths. If you are a technical person, consider enrolling in GAME 101 (Introduction to Game Design) vs. DANC 145 (Ballet I) to fulfill your Mason Core Arts requirement.

By enrolling in courses that naturally capitalize on your strengths, you are more likely to excel in coursework.

Step Three: Nurture your weaknesses.

Part of college is improvement. As a non-math person, you will not be able to escape algebra all your life, even if you major in a non-STEM field. Do not be afraid to ask for help!

Luckily, Mason has tons of free services to help students. The College of Education and Human Development has put together a comprehensive list of student success services. You can find it here.

Step Four: It is a process; have patience.

Raising your GPA is a process that requires time. It is best that you practice good habits early on in your academic career, as it is more difficult to raise your GPA the more credits you accumulate.

There is no magic tip that will set you on the path towards an improved GPA. It comes down to reaching out for help where you need it and putting in consistent effort.

Student Government is dedicated to helping you. If you ever need help find resources or just want to chat, please reach out to

Academics & Research

How Do I Professionally Contact a Professor?

So, you need to contact your professor. It is okay to be a little nervous. No matter what the reason for contacting them, this guide will provide a few tips for success.

Before we begin, ensure you have read the class syllabus! Many questions can be answered by reading the syllabus closely.

For additional tips, check out this page by the Office of Graduate Student Life.

Tip One: In person > Email

It is much easier to discuss problems, ask questions, or simply hold a conversation in person than it is in email. It is likely that the discussion will be more productive if it done in person. Luckily, professors should hold regular office hours or be willing to meet with students outside of class.

Office hours can usually be found in your class syllabus. If you do not see them listed check Blackboard or email the professor asking to meet.

Have a plan of action before your meeting. What do you hope to gain from talking with them? Be respectful and cognizant of their time (and other students’). If the conversation is drawing on too long, and there are other students waiting, consider requesting a follow up meeting.

Tip Two: Whether online or off, be clear with your request

If you are requesting a grade change or an extension on an assignment, be clear in your request. This is especially important in email chains, as unclear wording or requests will prolong the conversation.

Good: May I please have until May 4 to finish the final project?

Bad: Can I have some more time to finish the project? (Which project? How long?)

Tip Three: Email Etiquette

Email etiquette is an important skill to learn. A well written email will get you much further than a poorly worded email. If you are not comfortable with your written skills, ask a friend or a trusted individual to read over your email before you hit ‘send’.

Below is an example of an appropriate email requesting a deadline extension.

Professor Lastname, 

I hope all is well. My name is Firstname Lastname and I am a student in your GOVT-101 004 course. I am writing to request an extension on Assignment Four. If possible, may I please turn it in a day late on Sunday, March 4? 

[If you feel it is appropriate, write the reasoning here.] 

I understand this is not ideal. I appreciate any leeway you are able to provide me this one time. Thank you and I look forward to class on Monday. 

Thank you, 

Firstname Lastname
  • Use your or email address.
  • Provide a clear subject line such as “[GOVT 101 004] Request for an Extension”.
  • Address the professor by their preferred title and last name.
  • State who you are and which course you are in (include course number).
  • Be clear in your request.
  • A reasoning may not always be appropriate, but be prepared to provide one if requested.
  • Recognize that the situation is not ideal and that it will not be a repeated occurrence.
  • Include a signature.

Tip Four: What if it doesn’t go the way I hoped?

Sometimes things will not go your way. Whether the professor was dismissive, rude, denied your request, or the conversation simply didn’t pan out as you hoped – it’s okay.

Hold your head high and continue to be respectful. If you feel there is an egregious issue that must be resolved, consider contacting the department chair. However, for most situations, you’ll simply have to take the loss with grace.

Academics & Research

How Do I Find My Classes?

Welcome to Mason! Finding your classes on such a big campus can be a little daunting, especially when construction routes seem to change daily. Fear not though! Whether you’re a fifth year senior or a first semester freshman, these tips and tricks will help make finding your classes a little bit easier.

Step One: Check your schedule.

Log into to PatriotWeb, click ‘Student Services’, ‘Registration’, ‘Registration and Planning’, ‘Register for Classes’, and then select the semester. On your screen you should see three panels: one to search for courses, one to view your schedule, and one to view the courses your are registered for.

If you do not see the above, click the ‘Panels’ button on the lower left. To find where your classes are located, click on a course title on the right side of your screen and click the ‘Instructor/Meeting Times’.

This course is located on the Fairfax Campus in the West building room 1008. Once you take note of the location of each of your courses, let’s go find them on a map.

Step Two: Check a map!

The most up-to-date maps of all Mason campuses can be found here. Locations on each map are given a number, which corresponds the building’s name at the bottom of the map.

When planning the best routes to go between classes, residence halls, or study spots, take into account construction delays and heavy foot traffic. A walk from Peterson Hall to the Engineering Building may take up to 15 minutes or more depending on the time of day and relevant path closures.

Step Three: Try your schedule.

A few days before classes start, it is always a good idea to do a mock run of your schedule. This allows you to safely try different routes without being late to class. On the first day of classes though, its a good idea to leave extra time to get from one place to another, especially if you are a commuter student.

And that’s it! Pretty easy right? If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask a passing student or email Student Government at See you on campus!