More Than the Degree

Student programs available in Asian countries

Are you curious about Asia? Do you want to gain work experience on another continent? Japan, South Korea, China – any of these countries make your heart skip a beat? Mine does! Follow your nose by using the following ideas. In this blog post, I listed programs in or related to Asian countries for which I applied.

1) Vulcanus in Japan

Vulcanus in Japan is a program dedicated to students from countries belonging to European Union and a few other partner countries. It is a year-long possibility to learn Japanese for 4 months in Tokyo and intern in one of the listed Japanese companies for the next 8 months. There are many options for Computer Science students, Chemists and Materials Engineers. However, Vulcanus started broadening the diversity of internships and now also artists, journalists, and social scientists can find a suitable position. The program covers basic expenses with a scholarship and the company usually helps with finding accommodation or even provides it and covers its costs. Annually, only 30 lucky students are chosen to participate and even now, during the pandemic, Vulcanus in Japan keeps recruiting. If you are a fan of Japan and if you associate your future with this country, it’s a great fit! 

The application process opens each January and is quite time consuming. Thus, you should start preparing the required documents much earlier and think about your motivation. It took me more than 2 weeks to prepare all attachments like the application form (13 pages!), CV, motivation letter, recommendation letter, list of grades, enrollment certificate, university grading system explanation, and medical self-declaration. The hardest part for me was the cover letter and the application form.

I was really struggling with the cover letter, because I found it extremely difficult to find what my true motivation is, list the reasons why I want to go to Japan, how I can benefit from the program and how I can help the company in case I am selected. In this issue, Aila from the Career Services at Aalto helped me. I booked an appointment with her via Job Teaser. She advised me to look at the webpage of the company I am interested in, see if they have similar values as I do (It turned out to be SDGs!) and how to find suitable wording. I wrote about my goals regarding the internship and the language course by thinking about a bigger picture. I also mentioned my experience gained from travelling and living abroad, I described relevant skills briefly and wrote about my education. The most difficult part in the application form was listing my jobs including achievements from each of them.

When you get shortlisted by the organizers, the company starts handling your application and makes the final decision. I especially liked that large corporations like Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation or Fujitsu offer placement positions. I was notified about being shortlisted in the middle of March and about the final selection at the beginning of May. This year, only 18 candidates were selected, and unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them.

2) Global Intern Program (GIP) in South Korea

GIP in South Korea is a summer internship program during which you learn about the Korean culture, Korean language and work in a laboratory of your choice. The research groups at Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) vary from Communications & Sensor Networks Lab, through Environmental Nanotechnology Laboratory to Developmental Genetics Laboratory and are distributed in 8 different schools. The program ends with a poster session and writing of a short paper that is published in a book given to you and your home university. GIP offers half of round-tip airfare, dormitory accommodation, classes and special lectures, health insurance, and a stipend.

I applied for this program in March and received the selection notice in the middle of April. I was chosen to the program! I was very happy, but unfortunately, the program got cancelled.

To apply for GIP, you must fill in a form with the following boxes: Knowledge of Major Field, Reason for Study in Korea, Key Achievements, Goal of Study & Study Plan, Action Plan after Study, Self-Introduction. The form also asks you if you are interested in pursuing a PhD degree at GIST after the internship – I was. Moreover, you must pick 2 laboratories that you are willing to work in and attach recommendation from at least 1 professor. The form asks you also about your English skills. In my case, the study program at Aalto is taught in English, so I attached a file stating that. The crucial box in my opinion is the Goal of Study & Study Plan, which is basically a research plan. You have to carefully pick a topic and be as precise as you can. I asked my thesis advisor to help me come up with an idea and my research plan ended up being related to my thesis topic. Also, we managed to propose usage of a material developed in the laboratory of my first choice.

3) Huawei Seeds for the Future

Huawei Seeds for the Future is an ICT program, which until now was carried out in China. However, unfortunately, since 2020 the program is available online. Nevertheless, it offers a unique possibility to network, learn about Chinese culture during live sessions and participate in basic and advanced lectures about 5G, AI, Cloud Computing, and more. You can read more about my experience from “Huawei Seeds for the Future” in my next blog post. The application period will open around July, so prepare your cover letter (think about your motivation and how can this program influence your next steps), CV, or even a short video (which you can start by using a Chinese phrase) and apply.

Besides these, remember that Aalto offers many exchange programs to Asian countries and promotes participation in summer schools. There are also other programs like MIRAI or Kyoto Startup School, to which I have never applied for. Try googling more yourself 😊 Good luck!

Katarzyna Wojdalska

Functional Materials 

Aalto study options

Contact email: aaltosquad(at) 

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