To commemorate International Women's Day 2020, we are meeting some of the women who have recently been involved in the IAESTE programme.
The IAESTE programme brings students of science, technology, engineering and applied arts from around the world to Northern Ireland and Scotland for technical work placements. Similarly Northern Irish and Scottish students embark on work placements each year in one of the many IAESTE partner countries. It is delivered in the UK by the British Council.
Karina Li, Kazakhstan
Last year Karina Li came to Northern Ireland to take up an internship at "Taylor+Boyd", a civil and structural engineering consultancy firm. During her placement Karina assisted senior engineers in designing buildings and associated infrastructure.
"I was responsible for structural drawings and calculations," says Karina. "Sometimes we visited construction sites which was all very exciting for me!"
By living in Northern Ireland, not only did Karina have the chance to meet different people from all over the world and broaden her mind, she now feels more confident with her career path now that she has finished her IAESTE placement.
"The most memorable thing I learned is to never be afraid to leave your comfort zone in order to gain new useful experience, whether it is a professional or personal one."
Michelle Oti-Bronya, Ghana
Michelle is a medical research student who also came to Northern Ireland for her IAESTE placement.
Over the summer, Michelle worked at the Wellcome Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine (WWIEM) at Queen's University Belfast, where she was involved with a project on Klebsiella pneuomniae. Under the supervision of resident researchers, Michelle performed experiments to determine how mutations affect the survival of these bacteria and ultimately how harmful they can be.
"It was such a great experience," says Michelle. "Learning [about] new cultures, meeting amazing people and working in a world-class research institute like WWIEM... was actually a dream come true! I would definitely recommend Belfast to anyone."
Finnóla Mallon, Northern Ireland
Finnóla Mallon, a chemistry student from Northern Ireland, had the chance to work for Wanhua Chemical Group in Yantai, China as part of her IAESTE placement.
"I was interested in material chemistry and found an ideal placement which gave me the opportunity to gain industrial work experience, travel, learn and experience a different culture," she told us. "It sounded too good to be true but it ended up being out of this world!"
During her placement Finnóla learnt a tremendous amount of analytical skills and was trained on numerous analytical machines, all of which will help her with her future career aspirations.
Talking about the most memorable aspect of the experience, she said, "No matter how far away from home you are, you'll always have a support network. An IAESTE placement broadens your world view and gives you invaluable life experience."
Finally, we asked Finnóla if she would do it all again. Her response: "Without a doubt, can I leave tomorrow?"
We want to thank all these amazing women for sharing their experiences with us. We wish them all the very best with their future careers.
Applications from Northern Ireland and Scotland students for the IAESTE programme are being accepted until 15 March 2020.