Sylvia Sullivan

Who are you?

Sylvia Sullivan, PhD, Chemical Engineering

Who is your employer?

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Karlsruhe, Germany

How did you learn about your internship?

I sought it out. I knew I wanted to spend time abroad during my Ph.D., so I emailed a professor who was doing interesting, related work here in Karlsruhe, Germany. We applied to the Fulbright together but only made the waiting list. We had another denial from an exchange fellowship funded by the university but finally received external funding for me to visit for six months. .

What was the application process like?

I met my professor once in person before she extended me funding. The majority of our communication was via email. But, as I mentioned above, it was only at the third application that things worked out and the Fulbright application in particular is time-consuming.

What were your major tasks or projects at this internship?

It is ongoing, but I am working with the German regional meteorological model and incorporating descriptions of secondary ice physics (meaning ice crystal aggregation and collision, droplet shattering, etc.) into their cloud schemes. We're going to use this modified version of the code to simulation a rainband over the UK.

Do you have any recommendations for Georgia Tech students looking to intern in the same company or country?

Start applying early and don't give up if you don't receive funding in the first round. It is more useful to contact people and indicate your interest than to just submit blind applications. I think it enhances any international internship to have a good start on learning the language before you go, but this is personal preference. There are plenty of students at my university in Germany, who do not speak German.

Where did you live? Did you find accomodations independently or with your company's help?

I'm living in a student apartment in the city, called a Wohngemeinschaft in German. I found it on www.wg-gesucht.de. This is a stressful process, especially from abroad. Again I think it enhances the international experience to live outside an 'exchange house' or single apartment. But that's personal preference.

How has this internship influenced your career path?

I am using it, in part, to help me decide whether I want to pursue my career in the US or in Europe. I am also receiving more guidance as I begin to put together my thesis, since my primary advisor is on sabbatical.

If paid, did the company you worked for pay you enough to live off of your salary or stipend, or did you have to supplement your income with personal funds?

Yes, I'm paid more here in Germany than at Georgia Tech and rent is lower here than in Atlanta. So I have money left over for weekend travel, which is really nice.