The Gregor Mendel Institute (GMI) attracts global talent who make fundamental discoveries about plant biology. Senior researchers at GMI developed the International Internship Program (I2P) for early career scientists before they enter graduate school. In a series of interviews, our interns described their work at GMI. The experience opened new ways of thinking about scientific research, specifically the importance of human connection and purpose-driven work.
More information about I2P can be found here.
During these five months of internship, I found myself in a continuously evolving environment, full of motivated people and exciting challenges. I had the opportunity to try, fail, and not feel guilty for that. I had the chance to learn a lot from the others and to teach something as well: indeed, the open-minded attitude is another valuable characteristic at the GMI.
From the first day that I stepped into the GMI I felt the strong sense of community and the importance in preserving it. Moreover, I also appreciated the shared excitement for science and the nonstop search for innovation.
This internship was a first taste of real work life in a lab, on wet bench, as I was only in an office for a Bioinformatics internship before. I was able to quickly learn the proper ways of behaving, experiment, and already gain some independency.
Moreover, participating in a real project, not only by simply doing what I am told, but also by participating in discussions to develop it, allowed me to finally make use of the knowledge that I accumulated over the years and feel closer to the goal of being a researcher. I analyzed results with my tutor and thought by myself about my projects.
Although I realised that not all this knowledge was useful, it’s way too theorical and there were things that I could only learn by doing this internship and develop new ways of thinking, which is why I feel that it is a real opportunity, that helped me for my scientific development.
The GMI is a really great place to focus on working about what we like. Everyone is passionate about their work which is a good source of motivation, and the vibe between colleagues is great, even more between the interns / student helpers, which makes it, for me, a place I’m happy to come to work.
This internship helped me a lot to understand how it is to be in science and to do a real research project. I learned how to formulate a hypothesis, plan an experiment, analyse data, and present your results to other scientists. This internship in GMI also helped me to understand how important the human connection in science is and that if you are confused, you should always talk to other people.
The coolest thing in GMI is how opened and ready to help all the people are. Even if you feel stressed out, there are always lots of people who you can talk with and get some support from them.
At the GMI I have the opportunity to perform real science. Interns get to do experiments that are important and they are not left with the boring and side experiments that no one else wants to do. I am taking care of my own project and have possibilities to show my results to other scientists at conferences even as an early career scientist. Thanks to this, I developed a lot of independence and responsibility in my daily lab work and setting up experiments.
When I moved to Vienna I didn't know anyone, but from the first moment I stepped into the GMI I was surrounded by very welcoming people that instantaneously became my friends. There is a strong bonding with everybody, including interns, PhD students and postdocs. Thanks to this, there is no hierarchy which makes work very enjoyable and gives the possibility to discuss science without being afraid of saying stupidities.