Irene Rahman of Lexington, Mass., a junior majoring in chemical engineering, came to MIT planning a medical career. She says there was a period after she arrived when she began to waver in that goal — but then she signed up for an Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program (UPOP) internship. UPOP, founded four years ago with support from Gururaj (Desh) and Jaishree Deshpande, is an intensive educational and skills-building program that enables sophomores to explore future careers and find posts, mostly in companies, that relate closely to the students’ academic interests. In Rahman’s case, that meant spending a summer probing the medical literature and talking to experts as part of the Boston Cure Project’s efforts to foster progress against the nerve disease multiple sclerosis. She loved the work at the Waltham, Mass., based concern — “It was the first time I’d done an independent research project” — and the people. The experience, moreover, made her think she’d like to be a physician after all. “After doing this project, and talking to doctors and toxicologists,” she says, “I’m thinking seriously about medicine again.”