Student broadens horizons with internship in Germany

Mon, 2012-10-15 08:00 -- univcomm
October 15, 2012

Sambed Adhikari’s advisors at Anderson University describe the senior chemistry and mathematics major as “very bright” and “absolutely relentless.” And he’s earned this praise. This past summer, Adhikari took part in a prestigious internship through the German Academic Exchange Service in Mainz, Germany, where he learned the nature of chemistry research. Because he is an international student from Nepal, many internship opportunities in the United States were closed to him, so he decided to expand his search.

“I had a friend who actually did this internship, and he told me I should check it out,” said Adhikari. He went to the website, applied, and was accepted for a 13-week term over the summer. While getting into the program may have seemed simple, other preparations for his trip were more difficult. “When I found out I was going to Germany, I didn’t know how I would go about finding housing,” said Adhikari. “I went to the CPS office and Vivian Coffman gave me a website to find housing there.”

The Center for Public Service (CPS), of which Adhikari is a fellow, played a role in the logistics of his trip by helping him with travel preparations and by paying for part of his airfare. However, they take no credit for Adhikari’s acceptance into the program. “The credit belongs completely to Sambed for finding the internship and executing it,” said Dr. Joel Shrock, director of CPS.

Adhikari was not worried about living in another country, but at first, he was nervous about the research. “I think I had a good grasp of the theory, but when the time came to go to the lab, I wasn’t as confident,” said Adhikari. However, his self-assurance in the rest of life soon carried over into his lab work as well. The internship, like most, gave him experiences that he would not find in a normal classroom and boosted his confidence for the scientific world. “He was doing research that he’d never done before, and he did it successfully,” said Shrock.

The research that Adhikari did took place at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and focused on graphene, a form of carbon. “The cool thing about graphene is in a couple of years, I think it is going to replace plastic and revolutionize the world,” said Adhikari. His main tasks consisted of taking various polymers and trying to attach, or graft them, to the graphene. “He was using some of the skills that he learned here in one of our classes, like analyzing what he saw on the instruments in his projects,” said Dr. Chad Wallace, professor of chemistry.

Adhikari, who also had an internship with the University of Illinois-Champaign during the summer of 2011, exemplifies the determination that many international students at AU have. “It just illustrates that international students have a broad vision of the world,” said Shrock, who mentioned another international CPS fellow who took a foreign internship this summer. Now, Adhikari not only has connections with his fellow interns from the United States, but also with his program advisor and graduate students from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.

Both Wallace and Shrock recommend students take advantage of internships in order to gain experience and make connections like Adhikari did. “We quite often think about summer projects, but here at AU we have students work with us on research during the semester,” said Wallace. “Six physics students are currently doing research with Dr. Millis, analyzing data for NASA.” Shrock also suggests finding a mentor within AU’s campus who can help students look for internship opportunities. “A mentor can really help point you in the right direction,” said Shrock. “Talk to your major’s professors and pick their brains. That’s what they’re there for.”

Professional experiences, whether they take place in Germany or in Indiana, can sometimes be difficult to find, but they are always worth the work. “If you are motivated, then there are plenty of opportunities,” said Adhikari.

— Marissa Phillips is a senior from Brookville, Ohio, majoring in communication arts. Phillips is an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications. Photo credit: Haley Burger.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.