If I am your referent faculty member for your 3rd year “Research Internship”, then the below applies to you. This, typically (but not exclusively), will be the case if you are a student in the “Computer Networking” program (also, among friends, known as M1-NET, or M1-ACN).
If you are potential host/advisor, for a student for whom I am the referent faculty member, then the below also will be relevant for you.
It is important to know your rights and responsibilities. To this end, you are advised to consult:
Before the internship
Noting that these 3A internships are research internships, that they are evaluated and graded upon completion, and that the grades become part of the student’s permanent record, my public policy for validating an internship proposal and signing the “convention de stage” is, that all of the below conditions are satisfied:
- The student has had a “career counseling” meeting with me, during which we have discussed both the targeted 4A (and beyond) and how this precise internship is relevant in that larger context.
- The internship description MUST contain at least the following 6 items:
- A named advisor/tutor at the host institution/company, who will be responsible for the student (the student is, of course, expected to collaborate widely within the institution/company).
- A general context of the work: what is the domain, what are the general challenges, and why is this “research” and not “engineering”?
- The specific set of scientific problems, which the student will contribute to finding answers to, and why those problems are relevant?
- Select and relevant bibliographic references, indicating that both there is state-of-the-art in this area, and that the student (& advisor) is aware of it.
- The competencies, which the student is expected to acquire during the internship (aka: this is an internship, not slavery).
- The prerequisite competencies, which the student must possess, in order to be able to successfully complete the internship.
I will not, under any circumstances, sign the “convention de stage” if the above is not satisfied. I am quite satisfied, however if I get a description with the required content by email.
NDAs and Confidentiality
The named advisor/tutor is kindly requested to examine and confirm if the NDA included in the “convention de stage” is sufficient, in case of confidential work: it covers (at least) the signatories, i.e., the referent (=me), the student, and the host of the student – but, also, more broadly, the jury that will evaluate and grade the work. As there will be regular discussions during the internship, and as the internship will have to result in a report and a presentation (both of which can be confidential), this is important to settle before the internship commences.
The NDA in the “convention de stage” is, usually, sufficient. Should, for whatever reason, an additional NDA be required, then it is important to start very early on this process, as it will have to be vetted by the Ecole Polytechnique legal office, as well as signed by all parties.
Tracking During the internship
Both the student, and the advisor/tutor, should expect to be contacted individually 1-3 times/month by phone or email, for a status update. The primary purpose of these regular contacts is, ultimately, to be able to help both the host and the student make the internship a positive experience: catching and resolving potential problems early, matching and managing expectations etc.
A secondary purpose of these regular contacts is, of course, to be able to step in if things go haywire: if the internship turns into something which is not research, and therefore will not give rise to validation for the student, or if the student does not perform as expected, or doesn’t show up, or if the host institution/company does not provide the expected environment and support, etc. Fortunately, these situations are exceptionally rare, frequent and early contact tends to avoid such from arising.
Evaluation and Exam
A written report is expected, and must be produced by the student. Essentially, the report should be “about the scientific work” undertaken – and, certainly, not a “process report”.
The report and presentation can be confidential, and the “convention de stage” already contains an NDA which usually is sufficient.
- I expect the written report no less than 5 business days before the exam, least I’ll not be able to ensure having read it.
- The exam consists of a scientific presentation of the work, methodology, and obtained results – not of “the company/lab” or its products, or on how it was to work in a foreign country, etc.
- The exam will take place before a jury composed by me + a colleague (another faculty member).
- The advisor/tutor is invited to sit in on the presentation (and the subsequent Q&A), and is expected to send a brief appreciation of the students work, work ethics, etc. – but is not party to the grace deliberations.