Personal learning on how to search for Practical Placement

In my previous posts I already described what companies my classmates join and what I consider to be is one of the success factors. In this blog post I decided to share my personal experience of searching for internships, thus providing the readers with tips I would love to get from anyone one year ago ( that time I was struggling to find any interesting project to participate in).

To begin with, I would like to highlight that there are tons of different ways to find Internship/Practical Placement/ Master Thesis project that will be the best for this particular student. The following can be named:

  1. Online application to the positions you are interested in.
  2. Emailing companies directly and asking whether they have some projects for you.
  3. Get in contact with companies through the network your Department has.
  4. Participate in conferences, seminars and workshops to meet companies and people thus finding a project to join.

And now  – a personal story about how it worked out for me.

 1)    Online application to the positions you are interested in.

As I was interested in quite narrow field “New digital technologies for healthcare” there were not that many positions available. I tried to apply to consulting companies with healthcare expertise and telecommunication companies, but it was difficult to find a project suitable for me both when it comes to my area of expertise and time frame.

On the other hand, for four of my classmates this approach resulted in truly exciting Practical Placements in Pharmaceutical and Management Consulting companies. The main success factor here is to be focused and fully prepared to the series of interviews: know everything about the company you applying to, your strengths and weaknesses and what exactly is expected from you.

2)    Emailing companies directly to see whether they have some projects for you.

Again, worked for some of my classmates. A key success factor here is to try to learn about the company’s environment before taking the decision to start your internship there. Company contacts can be found on their websites and, for example, in relevant presentation slides

3)    Get in contact with companies through the network that professors and lecturers at your Department have.

I cannot say how it differs between department at KI, but course directors at Unit of Bioentrepreneurship are always helpful with providing students with company contacts. The most important thing here is to understand, that getting a meeting with someone at the company is just a beginning of your work on getting a Practical Placement. The determinative factor is how you will show yourself during the meeting, where again you have to be prepared to explain who you are, why do you want to work in this company and what you would like to do. Though I found my internship using the approach number 4, at least five of my classmates joined the projects this way.

4)    Participate in conferences, seminars and workshops to meet companies and people thus finding a project.

Using this approach you can accumulate insights and learn the trends about the field you are interested in, build your own network with people from different companies, learn about the ongoing projects and start working with people whom you already know.

Starting from spring 2013 I started to attend all the events within my field of interest. During one of these events – Digital Health Days in Stockholm –  I met my current supervisor and CEO simply during coffee-break. After a short conversation we found out that I was looking for a project within Digital Health while he had a project and was looking for people to join.  And that was it, since mid of October I am working in this company and I enjoy 100% what I am doing.

And while some of you may argue, that not everyone is lucky in this life, I would reply with the following well-known saying from Louis Pasteur “Chance favours the prepared mind”.

Therefore the main messages from me:

  • Learn and communicate;
  • Be open-minded and curious;
  • Never underestimate the importance of a meeting.

Good luck!

Dina

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