After earning his Ph.D. in 2007,
Pudo did a postdoctoral fellowship at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(U.S.A.). During his time there, the University of Sydney invited him to return
for two months to work on a project in
nonlinear optics. Pudo said that Eggleton’s invitation was a direct consequence
of his student internship.
Since 2009, Pudo has been a research
scientist in the electro-optic warfare sec-
tion of Defence Research and Develop-
ment Canada, located in Quebec. He was
told that he was hired both because of his
research path and his past contacts and
international exposure. “That was really
interesting to hear from the employer’s
perspective,” Pudo said. “It is a recognized
asset to have been able to work in different
labs and with different people.”
Chen doesn’t require that an intern-
ship be related to the student’s Ph.D.
topic. In fact, it is more important for
students to learn new topics and acquire
new skills. “In addition to broadening
his general background, the internships
allowed him to experience different
research groups, settings and modes of
operation,” he said.
Meredith M. Lee is nearly finished
with her Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Stanford University (U.S.A.). Her
bachelor’s and master’s degrees are also
from Stanford, so she too has made a
conscious effort to broaden her horizons
past her longtime home base.
After undergraduate internships at
IBM, Intel and Agilent, Lee spent the
summer between her undergraduate and
graduate careers working for MIT Lincoln
Laboratory in Lexington, Mass. (U.S.A.).
At Lincoln Lab, she investigated
catastrophic fiber fuses—a phenomenon
that affects glass fibers in space. If there
is a defect in the fiber, it will cause a fuse
along the fiber and destroy its waveguid-
ing properties. Lee was investigating how
Courtesy of Dominik Pudo
It is a recognized
asset to have been
able to work in
different labs and
with different people.”
—Dominick Pudo, Defence
Research and Development,
fast power densities would propagate
along the fibers. She and her collaborators
presented a CLEO paper on their work.
Lee sees her internship as a broadening experience beyond her three degrees
from Stanford. She says she’s been lucky
to have had a chance to participate in a
wide range of projects—crystal growth,
germanium field-effect transistors and
microprocessor fabrication—in industrial laboratory settings. She has kept in
touch with her internship mentors.
Her primary recommendation to
other students: Try to get internship
experience any way you can, whether it’s
a formal full-time situation for several months or an informal consulting
arrangement. “I wouldn’t make huge
decisions based on if I went to a friend’s
company for a couple of hours, but you
can make judgments fairly quickly and
get an idea of whether it’s your thing,”
Enrique Rodriguez Aboytes:
Professional, personal growth
Enrique Rodriguez Aboytes is a Ph.D.
student at the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (better
known by its Spanish abbreviation,
INAOE) in Puebla, Mexico. He hopes to
be finished with his doctoral work on the
applications of lasers in liquids by the end
of 2010 or the start of 2011. His thesis
involves studies of cavitation by CW
lasers in absorbing liquids, which has
many applications in ophthalmology.
In 2007, Carlos Camara, a physicist at
the University of California, Los Angeles
(U.S.A.), came to INAOE to give a talk
on his research into sonoluminescence.
Rodriguez Aboytes invited Camara to
visit his lab, and in return Camara invited him to do an internship at UCLA.
Rodriguez Aboytes was at UCLA for
six months in 2008. At that time, he was
starting his Ph.D. research and knew a
lot less about the physics of cavitation
than he does today. Although Camara
and his colleagues use sound waves to
create and collapse tiny bubbles and
Rodriguez Aboytes uses lasers, the evolution of the bubbles with time is almost
the same, and the Mexican student
found the work to be of great help to
him in his own research.
Rodriguez Aboytes estimated that
about 25 percent of the INAOE graduate students do an internship in another
country. “The internship made me grow
professionally and as a person,” Rodriguez Aboytes said. Once he finishes his
Ph.D., he wants to find employment in
an institution in the Puebla area. He also
plans to assist his wife in her medical
equipment calibration business.
To secure an internship as a graduate
student, you need to take matters into
your own hands, investigate the opportunities available to you, and be willing to
present a strong case to your home faculty.
In return, you’ll make contacts, learn new
techniques, develop teamwork skills—
and hopefully have a great time. t
ONLINE EX TRA: Visit www.osa-opn.org to read the new Bright Futures blog about
launching your optics career.
Patricia Daukantas ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance science writer who specializes in optics