In France, lab rotations are regulated by law. The laboratory in which you will perform your internship has to sign a binding agreement with the university you are registered to before you can start to work. It is a rigid and slow system since many different actors have to sign the same document in four copies.
These documents are available on the websites of Paris Diderot and Paris Descartes universities and on the Moodle. Once you found a research team that is willing to host you, you should download the form, fill it in and give to your lab for signature. This document should then be given to the AIV secretary for our signature (Pascal or Ariel). After, it will be then sent to the university you registered to (Paris Descartes or Paris Diderot). The whole process usually takes a month, so it’s a good idea to start early, say by late November, early December.
On the good side, this binding agreement («convention de stage») will allow you to work in safe conditions: you’ll be protected by the laboratory insurance in case something occurs, you being injured or you being at the origin of a massive fire, for example. Such things usually don’t happen, but it’s better to be covered.
The other good news is that you will be paid for your internship. The French law is very clear on that subject: any internship lasting longer than 2 months (regular working days and hours) must be paid by the team hosting you. You will not be paid a full salary, but a compensation of typically 430€ a month for your work. This is not something negotiable and you should run away from labs that are reticent to pay you for your work and propose you to sign several one month internship agreement or other weird alternatives. Such proposition are illegal anyway. Importantly, the universities will not sign the «convention de stage» if the lab refuses to pay you. It’s a recent law (2010) and some researchers are not yet fully aware of it. If you have any doubts or problems related to this issue, please let us know as soon as possible.
How to find an internship ?
The next question you may ask is how you can find an internship. It’s actually an interesting process for you since it forces you to think about what you really want to study: spending 5 months on a focused subject really requires that you are interested in it. It also encourages you to visit labs, interact with researchers and learn what they are doing and for what reasons. Here are a few tips to help you in your lab hunt. Bottom line : meet with researchers, talk to their students, ask them questions and visit their labs. If you have questions, just ask the AIV team, we’ll help you to find the best lab for you.
Some tips to find an internship
- On the AIV webpage there is a section where internships are announced.
- Talk to people at the CRI: specially the M2 students and the FdV students (PhD students of the Frontiers of Life Science PhD program (FdV), also hosted at the CRI). Try to get involved in informal discussions with them.
- If you have seen a subject in class that you like, directly ask the teacher to see if he knows some labs that do similar work. Ideally you can be directly put in contact by your teacher.Tips on how to contact the lab
- Keep in mind that good labs get many applications for internships. Therefore you should personalize your request and put the name of the person you want to contact in the first line.
- Read what they have done previously and explain what particular part of their work you like most. Give all the details about when will the internship take place (i.e. full time, 5 month starting February), describe any particular experiences you have and your motivation. Write a straightforward, short email.
- Attach a CV, giving information about your background, possible lab techniques you Master, programing skills…
- Ask them if you can meet them and visit their lab, specially if they are located in the Paris region.
Doing an Internship abroad ?
It is possible to do an internship outside of Paris, in France or abroad. If you are planning to do so, please come discuss with us what you have in mind as soon as possible. We prefer to keep students around Paris so that they can interact and meet every week during the seminars and scientific communications sessions, but if you can convince us that it’s best for you to go abroad for your internship, then we’ll try to help you as much as we can. Unfortunately we won’t be able to support you financially, so you’ll need to find a fellowship or another way to pay for your travel expanses. There are a few funding options, but they are very competitive, so it’s best to be prepared and to discuss doing an internship abroad with us as early as you can.
Check list !
- Once you think you know where you want to go, come discuss it with us.
- Start to sign the «convention de stage» (mid-December at the latest)
- At the same time fill in the Moodle with your lab contact, your internship research project title.
- Start your internship no later than 1st of February.
Contact labs, visit labs, find your internship (before December)
At the end of the internship you will have to give an oral defence and you will have to turn in a short report containing: the project title and the name of your supervisor and its affiliation; an abstract (200-300) words detailing background, objective, methodologies, results and perspectives of the internships; one scheme describing your research subject and a figure or graph describing your main results together with a figure caption. Usually the oral defence is in the first week of July, and you will have to turn in the report the Monday of the defence week. Note that attendance to the presentation of all students is mandatory.