I am on my third year doing a PhD in Engineering in a North American University. The norm in my institution is that a PhD is 5-6 years long. I was funded through the past period of time through a scholarship. The "understanding" is that the advisor funds students after the initial three years but nothing is formal.


My advisor found an internship opportunity for me and "strongly" suggested that I take it. In this case, the company pays me while I am there. During that time, he gets matching funding from the government. The idea is that he would use the matching funding to pay me after the internship ends. He basically takes the money and gives to me back later. I trust that he will do that. I am not sure if this is considered normal or not in acadima but that is not my question.

The problem:

The problem is that some aspects of this specific internship seem abnormal to me and I want to get feedback from the community about these aspects.


1- The internship is for 9 Months. It is full-time internship and I will not have time to work on my PhD. This means that my PhD is extended by 9 Months (5-6 Years + 9 Months). Is this a normal period of time for a PhD internship? I have seem people go on a 3-4 Months internships and even 6 in one case but never 9.

2- The tasks of this internship seems to be a long the lines of a Full-time engineering job. There does not seem to be any research involved. My thinking was that a PhD internship would help me develop my research skills and this seems to be an internship for a masters student or an undergrad. Is it normal for an PhD internship to be a full-time job in disguise?

3- The internship is located in another city. I have to move there for 9 months. This would require me to completely change my living situation twice in 9 months. Is this considered normal?

I am considering passing on this opportunity and finding a more suitable one myself. I just wanted to get feedback from experienced people before doing so. I would appreciate any input.

  • 2
    I suggest you reformulate the question title to better reflect what you are asking. As it stands it's terribly vague/broad: a lot of things can be considered normal for an internship, that may or may not be relevant to what you are asking
    – posdef
    Jun 28, 2018 at 9:42
  • I reformulated the title. Thank you for your input.
    – user18244
    Jun 28, 2018 at 19:15

1 Answer 1

  1. For research internships I think doing a bit longer will result in better outcomes. In my experience it takes 1-2 month to get into a new work environment/topic and doing serious research in 2 month is unlikely.

  2. The best way to find out is to talk to your supervisor (at the internship) about this. The internship should not be a pure engineering task (it is still a full-time position though). It is probably to be expected that you do some hands-on work but you can ask about the topic and the probability that this will result in a publication. Depending on what your PhD topic is, you could also see this as an opportunity to get some real-world experience.

  3. This is quite normal (I moved to the US for 6 months, I know a lot of people who did this). Of course if you do not want to do this, your supervisor should not be pushing you.

It would be best to consult with your advisor before searching for something else yourself. Maybe he just wants the additional funding for you but maybe there is something else about this internship that makes him think it is suitable for you.

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