by Juliane

I like interns. I know that as a good postdoc (and PhD student for that matter) I should detest those time-sucking parasites, who need three hours to load an agarose gel, ask what temperature a 37C waterbath is at and manage to contaminate a cell line kept at 10x pen/strep. (the last paragraph is intended as sarcasm, however two out of three things really happened to me).

I like interns, because I like having new people in the lab, I like talking about my science and explaining it in layman’s term to an interested audience, I like how they make me think about my work, and I like teaching the next batch of potential scientists and hopefully make them like science as much as I do.

If you like interns as well or at least can live with them for a while you might consider taking a German RISE student next summer. RISE stands for research internships in science and engineering. German undergraduate students come to America or the UK to work in a lab for up to three months during their summer break. The DAAD (German academic exchange service) pays for their flights and accommodation. All you (or your PI) have to invest is some time and consumables.

With interns, as with all colleagues, you need luck. If you get lucky and get a brilliant intern, who is smart, interested, fun to work with and has good lab hands, you are set. He or she will help the project along, might even produce useful data and invite you all out for lab lunch.

Very few interns have all those abilities, just like very few technicians, PhD students, or fellow postdocs do, but when you get a RISE intern you have the choice between several applicants, so you can choose the one you think fits best to your working style.

Hosting a RISE intern is like a mini-trial run for the real deal (mentoring/supervising students in your own lab in the future): project design, choosing from several applications, supervising the work, making sure your intern learns something and has at least a little fun.

It lasts only three months, so why not give it a try.

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