STFC's Summer Placements: Jump-starting your career in STEM
20 Mar 2024







​The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) runs a range of early career programmes for students eager to jump-start their career in STEM. 

Garima, one of Technology's Summer Placement 
STFC’s Summer Placement is just one of these programmes, which provides students with the opportunity to get real-world experience in careers such as engineering, computing, science and technology, business support, and microelectronics. The placements are also aligned with STFC’s award-winning Graduate Programme and are a great stepping stone for students to begin a full-time career with the organisation once their studies are completed. 

Over the last few years, the popularity of this programme has skyrocketed. This year, our early careers team received over 3,800 applications, with 375 of these applications being made to the five roles which Technology recruits from. Compared to 2021, this is a 223% increase in applications to the Summer Placement programme.

To be eligible for the programme, applicants must be in full-time education, return to their studies to complete their degree following the placement, and have the right to live and work in the UK for the duration of the placement. Applications to the programme for summer 2024 are now closed, but you can sign up for early career job alerts via the UKRI careers portal.

We caught up with Garima, one of our 2023 Summer Placement students, to discuss her experience of the programme and her time with Technology.

 Can you tell me a bit about your role at STFC?

In 2023, I spent eight weeks working with the STFC Technology Department as a Microelectronics Design Summer Student between my second and third years of university. Working with the department’s ASIC Design Group, I designed, simulated, and laid out a 10-bit Voltage DAC (Digital to Analog Convertor) for a video processing ASIC with space imaging applications using 180nm process technology and Cadence Virtuoso Design Tools.

What did you learn while working with STFC?

The internship provided me the chance to apply theory learnt at university to actual projects, which helped me to acquire a range of technical and practical skills. Going through the design cycle process of ideation, design, simulation, and layout, whilst ensuring the specifications were met, was a great learning experience. I learned how to work with industry-standard EDA (electronic design automation) tools, explored the methodical and intensive process of simulating a design, and even expanded my understanding of semiconductor devices.

The internship also gave me a glimpse of office life, as I had the opportunity to attend meetings with my team and external clients and observe how things work day-to-day.

What made you decide to complete an internship at STFC? 

I have always been fascinated with natural sciences and mankind’s quest to understand objective reality. Engineering enables the construction of instrumentation, which facilitates scientific discoveries. Being someone who loves problem-solving, I chose to pursue engineering.​

Having a keen interest in engineering for science and an educational background in electronics engineering, I was looking for suitable internships online. When I stumbled across the opportunity to spend my summer designing electronics for exciting scientific applications under the guidance of the renowned ASIC design team at RAL, I made sure to put my best foot forward. I was utterly delighted to receive an offer to join the team for the summer.

Did you enjoy it?

I absolutely loved my time at STFC!

I found it truly exciting to think that the DAC I was designing would perhaps be in space one day and used in a greater mission to understand our Solar System. In the brief duration of eight weeks, I gained a lot of valuable skills and insights into the workplace. My manager was very kind and patient throughout, and my colleagues were very supportive and friendly. 

I was able to work flexibly and enjoyed the regular coffee breaks and trips with the group, which created a great sense of community. I also loved the lecture series especially curated for summer students. 

What was the best part about being an intern at STFC?

Whilst I truly loved the environment I was in – of engineering and scientific discovery, I think the best part about interning at STFC was my group. I always felt so supported and well cared for as an intern, and my colleagues were really skilled at what they did. 

Is there anything you would do differently?

I would choose a better location for accommodation! I stayed in Blewbury over the course of my internship and didn’t realise how hard it would be to get to RAL from such a remote location. I was lucky to have one of my kind colleagues to pick up and drop me to and from work every day.  Next time, I would perhaps go for places with better connectivity with the Harwell Campus, such as Didcot, Wantage and Abingdon to name a few.

What would you say to someone interested in joining STFC as an intern?

I would strongly encourage them to apply for the internship as it is a great opportunity to be involved in exciting projects with experienced and highly motivated teams. I would especially recommend this to people like me, who find the natural sciences awe-inspiring, as the projects that STFC works on range all the way from understanding the universe at an astronomical scale, to its tiniest constituents. 

What are your goals for the future? 

I am currently in the third year of my four-year MEng in Electronics and Computer Engineering at the University of Sheffield. I am keen on exploring new technologies such as neuromorphic electronics, quantum engineering, and technology for discovering new physics, which is precisely what is done at STFC! I am also considering pursuing a PhD in the field of VLSI (Very Large-scale integration), but I am not quite sure yet.

Interested in learning more about STFC’s early career programme? Visit the STFC careers site​ for more information.

Written by Cat Lewin-Williams and Garima Malhotra.