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Switzerland

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Jaskaran Singh Malhotra


Home country

India

Internship city and country

Villigen , Switzerland

Internship employer

Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI)

University study field

Nanotechnology

Year of internship

2019

Internship length

12 weeks


Work

I worked at Swiss Light Source (SLS) which is a synchrotron facility. Here, high energy X-rays are used to study various material properties. In our group, we studied the electronic and magnetic states of different elements present in magnetic molecular complexes using X-Ray absorption spectroscopy. My task was to prepare atomically flat gold substrates. I had to develop a set-up for quick annealing of gold substrates (obtained from a manufacturer) using hydrogen flame to clean them and improve the surface flatness. Subsequently these were used to deposit some special magnetic molecules onto them. These would then be introduced in ultra high vacuum chambers in order to study their magnetic properties using the X-rays. It was my first time working at such a large dedicated facility. My supervisors were extremely knowledgable and helpful. Our group was a diverse one with experts in chemistry, physics, mechanical & electrical engineering. I came back from this internship with ample amount of knowledge on addressing problems in research, operating some high-end instruments, better interpersonal skills, experience of working in a diverse group and most importantly - reassurance about how fun and fulfilling would it be for me to pursue a career in research.

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Experience

I stayed at the PSI guest house just 10 minutes walk away from my workplace. My typical day included reading some research papers, carrying out expereiments and analyse the data obtained from instruments. Being a vegetarian, I struggled initially but eventually found a few places that serve vegetarian options. During lunch, my co-workers would talk about their experiences, the Swiss way of life, travelling around, and much more. My room-mate was an Algerian guy and we travelled around in Switzerland any chance we got. Most weekdays we would either go to a kebab shop in the nearby city or across the border to Burger King in Germany to have our dinner. Weekends were the best since we could explore a new part of Switzerland. IAESTE Switzerland organised amazing trips almost every weekend. I met people from different countries on these trips, made a few friends and experienced Swiss culture from different parts of Switzerland. During the 3 months of my internship I visited Lausanne, Bern, Lucerne, Interlaken, Jungfrau, Basel, Zurich and also went on a solo trip to Austria. It was such a wonderful time for me as I love travelling & photography. I became very fond of Swiss landscapes with snowy mountains, green fields, turquoise rivers & lakes, sights of cows grazing almost everywhere, the sound of cowbells, transient and colorful sunsets and most importantly the train journeys across Switzerland. The Swiss have connected their whole country with trains, buses, funiculars and cable cars which is so convenient for travellers. I also enjoyed occasional hiking and clicking breathtaking photographs of Swiss landscapes in their raw form. My stay in Switzerland was the best summer of my life so far. I am highly appreciative of the Swiss people and their remarkable efforts to preserve the nature while also making every placec in their country extremely accessible. I have seen some of the most beautiful landscapes on this planet during my stay. The experiences were priceless and I shall cherish them forever.

Discover

Working in a different country and a different workplace can teach a variety of things. The way things are handled, how people approach , how they tend to work as a team, the importance of informal discussions outside of work - all these things gave me new perspectives about work and life. I became more effective in communication and gaining the most out of company of brilliant people around me. Formal education offers a good foundational knowledge but in real scenarios, the work can be much more challenging. Internship experiences like this are necessary for students to learn skills necessary to implement the theoretical knowledge. Guidance from experts and soft skills necessary to communicate are as much important as reading books, maybe more. Scientists work to solve some of the biggest challenges humans face and their work is extremely important to progress humanity. All technological breakthroughs being with a discovery by scientist(s) working at their research facility which is then fine tuned and harnessed to hand out the benefits to the society. This internship made me more determined on my decision to become a scientist, pursue research as a career and contribute to the society. I am extremely grateful to IAESTE who provided me with such a wonderful opportunity and I hope others will also get inspired by my experience and pursue an internship through IAESTE!