PhD Students’ Internship Abroad: Unique Equipment, Challenges and Preparation

2017-11-17 16:15

Competition is an inherent part of a researcher’s life. In order to be successful in this career, one has not only to be inquisitive, active in raising questions and looking for answers, but also to have international experience. Many PhD students are convinced that to use the opportunity of internship through Erasmus+ programme is essential both for creating networking possibilities, and for expanding skills and knowledge much needed in the scientists’ vocation.

“Science nowadays is very international, therefore collaboration with institutions abroad always creates added value. Also, Erasmus+ internship can become a perfect start of a long-term cooperation”, says Aušrinė Jurkevičiūtė, a junior researcher at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) Materials Science Institute.

Unique opportunities

Ms Jurkevičiūtė says that during her internship at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), she had an opportunity to use a microscope, which is one of the few in the world.

“I have always liked pictures made by microscope, as they allow you to see things that are invisible by a bare eye. Pictures from scanning helium ion microscope have a great resolution, therefore I was able to make exceptionally good images”, says the young researcher.

The doctoral students say that the internships in the universities abroad provide the opportunities to work with new and more advanced equipment, to obtain more practical experience.

“I had an opportunity learn new methods of analysis, which I can also use now. Learning to independently organise my work was also extremely useful”, says chemical engineering PhD student Agnė Šmigelskytė, who was on an Erasmus+ internship in Munich Technical University, Germany.

Overcoming challenges and keeping goal in mind

Going abroad to study or work is always connected to challenges – one has to manage not only new culture, and new equipment, but also to adapt to communicating with different people.

“As doctoral students, we do not have as impressive results in research as, say, somebody working in this field for several decades. I remember, how awkward was one situation, when I had to meet somebody whose articles are only published in “Nature”, and who is working on million-euros worth projects – he simply did not have time for me, a second-year doctoral student”, says Ms Jurkeviciute.

However, the students agree that overcoming challenges – be it a new equipment, or meeting new people – only adds up to experience.

For those, planning to go on an exchange or internship abroad they advise to have a clear idea on the planned research and to choose the institution, which will allow to obtain the goals. It is useful to contact the researchers at the institution prior the visit, to find out the details on the internship. This internship is different from traineeship in companies, as it has to have a definite goal.

Experience of KTU students and graduates is inspiring – register for Erasmus+ internship today. The selection for Erasmus+ is taking place 4 times a year. The closest deadline is 1 December 2017. For more information please contact Rūta Jankauskienė: ruta.jankauskiene@ktu.lt.

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