2021 Great Minds student internships

Past winners

Feedback from former Great Minds participants & tips for future applicants

Since 2007, the IBM Research Labs have hosted nearly 100 students from participating countries. Some of them are now working at our Zurich Lab, and we asked them for some comments and tips for future applicants.


Anca-Nicoleta Ciubotaru

Anca-Nicoleta Ciubotaru

Former pre-doctoral researcher at IBM Research Zurich


What was your favorite experience during your Great Minds internship?

The Great Minds internship gave me the opportunity to do cutting-edge research in a dynamic and fruitful environment. Having the time to focus on developing a new solution for the problem at hand alongside skilled researchers was one of my favorite experiences as an intern.

What advantages for your future career did you get?

I got to know how industrial research functions and how it can have an impact on end users. Scalability, performance and effectiveness were some of the key factors that I had in mind during the internship besides the novelty of the solution. Understanding the lifecycle of a research project gave me tremendous advantages for a career in both research and industry.

Do you have any tips for new applicants?

Choose a project that you consider compelling and try to dive deep into different existent solutions to find their bottlenecks. Once you found the bottlenecks, come up with a new solution.

Ilie Circiumaru

Ilie Circiumaru

Software engineer at IBM Research Zurich

What was your favorite experience during your Great Minds internship?

My favorite thing is that I was working on solutions that could affect the whole world. We tried to resolve a lot of fundamental questions, which could even save lives. The second thing is that I worked with one of the best cryptographers in the world and explored the world of science and innovation for the first time in my life. And of course swimming in the pool in Kilchberg. I highly recommend that to other people.

What advantages for your future career did you get?

Because of this internship, and partially because of my previous experience, I got a position with Amazon. After leaving Amazon, I had two big companies listed in my bio. So that for sure increased the “weight” of my CV. When future employers look at such a CV, they won’t care where you were started or how old you are, it’s really about experience and companies where you worked. Finally, due to this internship I got a full-time job offer at the IBM Research Lab here in Zurich.

Do you have any tips for new applicants?

First of all, you should always believe in yourself. When I applied the first time, Moldova wasn’t on the list of participating countries. We contacted several people at IBM and finally it was added to the list of eligible countries. Then, as soon as you get a confirmation, immediately start to search for an apartment or some other place to stay. If you do it in advance, then it will be much easier and you will have a lot more opportunities to find something. And the third thing is if you live in a small country or you work in a not very big company — it doesn’t matter what your position is. I changed from my team lead position to intern. And I don’t regret it, it was definitely the right decision. When you’re young, you should explore the world and not think about money.