Arecibo Observatory RET FAQ

Back to Instructions

Please read carefully for details regarding the application process, requirements for supporting documents, topics to include in resume etc. If your question is not answered here, or if you are in doubt, please feel free to email us.

How should I contact you?

For all correspondence, including sending transcripts if relevant, please use the email at the top of this page.

How do I convert my documents to PDF files?

On some systems you can write a document to a PDF using the ‘print’ and 'print to file' option. You can also use one of many free online document converters such as or Neevia Document Converter. Whichever method you choose, we advise you to check your document before uploading.

How do I combine multiple PDF files into a single file?

There are programs that can combine multiple PDF documents. You can also use a free online PDF merger such as

How do I scan a document?

It is best to use a proper scanner and store your documents in PDF format. If you don’t have access to a scanner and you have a smartphone, you can download a number of free apps to scan to PDF using your phone’s built-in camera from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

How is the program funded?

The Arecibo Observatory RET program is supported by the National Science Foundation through grant number AST/1559849. Partial support is also recieved from NASA through individual, PI-led science grants.

How do I apply for the Arecibo Observatory RET program?

You should fill in the online form to start your application process. You should request your school's director a letter of recommendation, and put his/her contact information in the online form. The deadline for this online form is April 17, 2017, but we advise you to fill it in as soon as possible.

When will you contact my referees?

After you submit the online form, we will send you a link to verify your email. Once you verify your email by clicking on the link, we will contact your referee by email.

Where can I upload the supporting documents?

You will be sent a link in your email where you can upload your supporting documents. You can upload all the documents at once, or one at a time. It is the student's responsibility to make sure that we receive all supporting documents by April 17, 2017.

How do I know that you have received my supporting documents?

We will not email you when we receive supporting documents. You can view your application status on the page where you will upload your supporting documents. A blue tick besides an item means that we have received that document, and a red cross indicates we have not.

How do I know my referee has sent the letter of reference?

In the same page, you can also view the status of your letters of recommendation. A blue tick on the side of your referee's name indicates that they have provided us with the letter of recommendation. A red cross means they have not, and you should politely remind them. The deadline for letters of recommendation is also April 17, 2017.

I (or my referee) did not receive any emails after submitting the form?

We will be sending automated emails from the above email address during the application process. You should receive an email within minutes of submitting the form. If you do not, please check your 'junk' or 'spam' folders. If you still did not get any emails from us, please do inform us. Please do kindly check with your referees if they received our automated emails as well.

I have technical problems with the website?

This website has been tested with the recent versions of Safari, Chrome and Firefox. You should enable javascript if it has been turned off. Please email us if there are any problems, and we will gladly assist you.

I get an error message while uploading a file?

Please note that you can only upload PDF files (with .pdf file extension). If you still get an error message, please email us with the error message so that we can debug the problem. If we are unable to fix the problem, you can email us your documents, and we will upload them for you.

What format should I provide my telephone number in?

This is a text field that is not sensitive to format, so you can provide it however you wish. We expect to use the telephone number only in rare cases; most communication will be by email.

Why are you asking for my citizenship status?

The Arecibo Observtory RET program is primarily supported through a grant from the National Science Foundation. The elligibility set forth by this opporutnity requires U.S. citizenship. However, citizenship does not disqualify you from participating in a summer internship at the Arecibo Observatory. Other funding sources would be sought should a non-US citizen be selected.

Why do I have to provide three choices for internship area?

If we do not get sufficient applications in one specific area and many good applications in other areas, then we will consider second and third choices.

Why do I need to provide email addresses for my referee?

Once you submit the online application and verify your email address, an automated email will be sent to each referee requesting a letter of recommendation. If your referees do not receive this email, please ask them to check their spam folders.

What format should I use for the telephone number of my referees?

You can provide telephone numbers in any format, but please do not forget to include office extensions. We will correspond with your referees mostly by email, and only call them if there is any urgency.

Why do I have to provide preferred arrival and departure dates?

Some project mentors prefer students who can arrive early or depart late, mainly due to project restrictions and sometimes due to their travel plans. To have higher chances of selection, please provide earliest time possible for arrival date and latest time for departure date for the summer.

What should I write in the comments?

This is optional, in case there is some information that you would like to include with the application. This could be mainly logistical information about the application process, academic transcripts, referees etc, which will help us process your application faster.

I made a mistake while filling the form. Can I edit it?

Unfortunately we do not have an edit feature. However, you can email us the correct information, and we will be happy to edit it for you.

I got an error message/server error while submitting the form.

Please email to inform us about the problem.

What should I include in my resume?

You should include all educational details, previous employment, research / lab experiences, technical and programming skills, publications and awards. This information is required to consider your application complete. You should include anything else that you think is relevant.

What format should my resume be in?

Resumes should be a maximum of two pages long. The file format should be PDF.

What should I include in my personal essay?

You should write about your educational background, career goals, scientific interests and experience, and why you want to work in the Arecibo Observatory RET program. This is a very important component of the application.

What format should my personal essay be in?

Personal essays should be a maximum of two pages long. The file format should be PDF.

What should I ask my referee for?

You should first of all ask your referees whether they would be willing to provide you with letters of recommendations. You will have to provide us with their email address in online Application Form. We will contact them directly by email.

Who makes a suitable referee?

Suitable referees will often include professors that know you well and researchers that you have worked with on other research projects. At least one referee is required and should be the school's director. Director should include information relevant to the evaluation of your potential as a research teacher. You may include additional referees as part of your application.

What is the acceptable format for letters of recommendation?

Letter of recommendation should be a maximum of two pages long. The file format should be PDF. These instructions will be included in the email request sent to your referees.