A County Down student has gained international experience and boosted his employability skills on a paid internship with the British Council’s IAESTE programme.
IAESTE (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) is the largest global mobility programme for STEM students in the world. In Northern Ireland it is funded by the Department for the Economy and delivered by the British Council.
Queen’s University Belfast chemistry student Anwin Robin, from Dromore in County Down, moved to Switzerland in June 2019. He took up an IAESTE placement with Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology.
Anwin Robin said: “During my internship I drew on my background as a chemistry student to carry out research into making stronger materials. Knowing that they may be used in the future in structures ranging from airplanes to wind turbines made my work feel tangible and relevant.”
When Switzerland went into lockdown because of Covid-19, Anwin chose to stay in Switzerland and continue his internship from home. He also used this as an opportunity to develop his coding skills.
Anwin has remained in Switzerland since finishing his IAESTE placement in May. He is currently applying to further internships in the country and hopes to eventually study for a Masters in computer science.
Anwin added: “My time in Switzerland has been the best year of my life so far. My IAESTE placement showed me how international many companies are today and confirmed that I want to grow my work experience outside of the UK. I will forever be grateful to IAESTE for providing me with this opportunity.”
Before the lockdown, Anwin also explored Switzerland on weekend excursions organised by IAESTE, building connections with other interns across the country.
Whilst Covid-19 has restricted much travel this summer, many IAESTE placements have shifted online in response.
15 students from Northern Ireland are currently undertaking remote internships with organisations in the USA, India, Bangladesh and Poland, joining online seminars and discussions. Their subject areas include biomedical science, business and marketing, computer science, aerospace engineering and chemical engineering.
Jonathan Stewart, Director of the British Council Northern Ireland, said: “It’s wonderful to hear about the lifechanging impact of Anwin’s IAESTE placement, and we wish him all the best as he starts out in his career. Despite Covid-19, the IAESTE programme has quickly adapted and continues to offer quality opportunities for our university students to gain international experience. The remote internships help to provide Northern Ireland students with new technical skills while also experiencing different cultures and ways of working.”
Northern Ireland STEM students interested in applying for the IAESTE programme can find more information here: https://www.britishcouncil.org/study-work-abroad/outside-uk/iaeste