The Physics Department maintains a filing cabinet that contains flyers about summer research opportunities that we receive. This is a good place to start when looking for off-campus summer research jobs.
A major source of off-campus summer research opportunities is the set of REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) sites funded by the National Science Foundation. These are usually (but not always) major universities or laboratories that have received grants to bring in students from a variety of institutions to work with scientists during the summer. The list of current REU sites as well as information about the program in general can be found at http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/reu_search.cfm. Participation in REU programs is limited to US citizens and permanent residents.
There are, of course, other opportunities but they tend to be harder to find (unless they are in the filing cabinet), are more likely to be given to students of the institution where the work is being done, and are a bit riskier in terms of the quality of the research experience. The most likely ways to find such positions are to know someone or to make lots of inquiries.
Another mechanism for obtaining a summer research position is through an internship (300). The Career Development Office can provide details on the programs that exist, but most require connections to non-physics interests such as public affairs or entrepreneurship. However, the Physics Department does have limited funds to support internships in physics, astronomy, and engineering that are free from these constraints and are not limited to US citizens and permanent residents. Instructions for applying for these departmental internships can be found by clicking here.
Students need to begin the process of looking for off-campus research opportunities early - preferably before the end of the first semester - because some programs have early deadlines. These web sites may provide useful leads:
Science Division summer research page: list of opportunities off-campus