My summer in Canada: Lily's Mitacs experience. Image features maple leaves.

My summer in Canada: Lily’s Mitacs experience

Edinburgh University is working with Mitacs to offer students the opportunity to participate in the 2024 Mitacs Globalink Research Internship Programme. The supervised 12-week scheme, during the summer of 2024, will be an in-person opportunity in Canada. Successful interns will participate in research projects under the supervision of outstanding academic mentors. It is an excellent opportunity to get international research experience on your CV and experience the many educational, social, and recreational opportunities Canada has to offer.

It was great to hear from Lily Sharratt-Davidson, a Physics undergraduate student, who is currently taking part in the 2023 Mitacs Globalink Research Internship. Read on to hear about Lily’s valuable experience so far at the University of Toronto Mississauga…

What prompted you to apply for the Mitacs Globalink Research Internship?

I had just completed my second year as a Physics undergraduate when I received an email from the Careers Service advertising a twelve-week, funded summer research internship in Canada. Although I had some worries about travelling alone and the logistics of the internship, Canada had always been somewhere I had wanted to visit. I had always enjoyed practising science in a hands-on way, so it was a fantastic opportunity to gain research experience. I was somewhat doubtful that I would secure a place, due to the highly competitive nature of the program, but the opportunity was too good not to apply.

What did the application process involve?

To apply for the Mitacs Globalink Internship, applicants need to provide their academic transcript, a covering letter, and at least one academic reference letter. Having strong references really helped me during the application process, as well as expressing genuine interest for the specific areas of research I was applying for in my covering letter. You could show this by mentioning any previous research you have done, published work you have read, or any interesting seminars you have attended. The application then directs you to a database of hundreds of research projects across Canada. This stage of the application could be a little overwhelming. My advice is to filter by the subject of interest to you, and then make a list of potential projects. Applicants get a choice of seven internships out of this database, and each of them ask for specific skills, experience or even language requirements; some were French speaking. Matching your chosen internships with the skillset set out in your application will increase your chances of being offered a place. The professors who have registered their projects then get to choose from their potential applicants, and some might ask for a virtual interview before offering places.

If you are successful, Mitacs will provide support and advice, as well as a generous stipend. They also reimburse airfare travel and student fees but you do need to pay for these yourself in the meantime.

Tell us about your Mitacs experience.

After the long application process, I couldn’t believe it when the date of my internship finally arrived. I had received a placement with a biological physics laboratory at the University of Toronto Mississauga. The title of my project is “Bacterial Fight Club” studying bacterial growth and competition.

I have settled into my new routine quickly, thanks to the support of my fellow researchers and host professor. My professor took on another Mitacs student, so I am working alongside another physics undergraduate from Mexico, which allows us to support each other. The day-to-day consists of us being shown how to operate the lab equipment, and completing our own research under the supervision of the graduate researchers who work in the lab. We meet with the host professor every few weeks to discuss our progress, as well as partaking in weekly meetings where the team present their current research. The atmosphere at the lab, as well as with the other research groups at the university, is incredibly welcoming. There is a weekly journal club, as well as weekly coffee mornings allowing all of the biophysics research teams to network and socialise.

On the weekends, I am able to explore the rich multicultural city of Toronto, and the nearby natural beauty.

Reflecting on my internship

I am due to finish my internship in August. I feel that the combined opportunity to gain hands on research experience from the perspective of graduate researchers, as well as being able to travel to a new country and explore the culture, is one that I am incredibly thankful for. Undertaking this internship has instilled me with a wide-ranging new skillset, as well as increasing my confidence and broadening my horizons.

What’s your advice for potential applicants?

If you are even remotely considering applying for a Mitacs Globalink Research Internship, my advice for you would be to do it. You never know where an application could lead you, and in my case, it has presented me with one of the best experiences of my life. The skills you gain are not only incredible for career development, but help you to develop personally, experience international travel and build a worldwide network of colleagues and friends. Working full-time in a research environment can be challenging, so make sure you are passionate about the internship topic. Applying for an area that you are genuinely interested in will not only increase the chance of being selected, but will mean that you are able to get the most out of the opportunity. Finally, if you do get selected for an internship, take every opportunity presented to you to challenge yourself, and enjoy the experience!

Does the Mitacs Globalink Research Internship Programme interest you?

  • If you are eligible to take part in the programme, the Internships and Work Experience Team will be in touch with you, sharing a form to register your interest.
  • Applications for Mitacs 2024 close on 31st July 2023.

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(Image credit: Adobe Express)


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