Working in GIST Laboratories as an Undergraduate Student Intern


GIST is one of Korea’s most prestigious science and technology universities, with several research centers and laboratories. During the summer and winter breaks, most laboratories allow undergraduate student interns to work inside the labs.


General Information

GIST values research above anything else because its central vision is to enhance the quality of life by carrying out research opportunities that solve day-to-day problems. As a result, much effort goes into the experiments and research carried out at the institution. GRI (GIST Research Institute) encompasses eight major research centers at GIST. It also comprises other essential research centers, which were previously independent departments and science and technology application research groups within the university. This is done to ensure the cooperation of research planning bodies, R&D sites, tech commercialization, and startup companies.


Requirements, Process of application, and Tasks

To start working at a lab, students first apply to the laboratory of their choice. They must first do thorough research on the available labs under each major and then reach out to the professors of the labs they are interested in. GISTNEWS asked three students from different majors, “How do you decide which lab to work in?” Two students stated that they got most of their information from seniors who had previously worked in those labs. In addition, one student intern who worked in a biomedical science lab advised that students should email the professor 1-3 months beforehand. Later the professor will call or text them to visit the lab.

According to Professor Seunghee Han, dean of the  School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Engineering, undergraduate interns’ tasks vary from undertaking an independent project to assisting graduate students in the lab. For the first few weeks, students will be accompanied by a mentor who will guide them until they become acquainted with their surroundings. The professor emphasized that the most crucial aspect for undergraduate students is to familiarize themselves with the instruments used inside the lab and the process of proper data collection and analysis.

In most cases, undergraduate students who start working at the labs are at least sophomore students. Even though the requirements vary between different labs, they all require student interns to be passionate about the lab and are willing to devote their time to learning. Some labs, however, require that you have a basic understanding of experiments done in the lab and have taken a course related to their research.


Work Schedule and Environment

According to the responses GIST NEWS gathered from undergraduate interns, GIST labs present an optimal working atmosphere that encourages cooperative learning and experience sharing. All our interviewees said that the lab environment is respectful and encourages the free flow of ideas among interns, graduate researchers, and professors. In addition, the labs hold weekly meetings where undergraduate student interns can receive feedback about their work and check their overall progress.

The work schedule varies from lab to lab but on average; two students mentioned that they worked 4 to 5 hours a day. Professor Han of the School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Engineering also said that undergraduate students work about 20 hours a week on average. However, this is not the case for all students. According to another student majoring in material science and engineering, some undergraduate interns work the whole day from 9 to 5. “Most professors are flexible with the schedules,” she said. “You just have to tell them about your schedule when you apply.”

Working inside a lab is a great experience to have insight into the career of students’ interests by providing real-life experiences. According to one student who was a research assistant for GIAI (GIST Institute of Artificial Intelligence), it is highly encouraged for undergraduate students to find the lab of their interest and work for some time. She explained that her experiences during the internship have helped her affirm her interest in the field of computer science as a career. She told us that her internship opportunity has drastically improved her programming skills, and she was able to educate herself about many trends in AI. This student’s internship at GIST has widened her scope of opportunities. She told us that she was able to get another great chance after her experiences in the GIAI lab. “Now I am working as an intern for KAIST LK Lab at AI Graduate school,” she said. Even though skill and knowledge are some of the invaluable assets students should aim for while doing internships in GIST labs, some of the labs also provide monetary benefits to students.


Opportunities and Challenges

According to a student from the  School of Materials Science and Engineering, it is easy for undergraduate students to work inside the labs because GIST is an institution with a small student body compared to other science and technology universities in Korea. Therefore, students have plenty of opportunities and are highly encouraged to work in the lab of their choice. “We should take advantage of that,” she said. Other students we interviewed also noted that doing an internship at GIST is a great experience and recommended that students pursue their interests in internships in the labs. They believe theoretical education geared with an opportunity to apply classroom knowledge to real-life applications is a stepping stone to a successful career.

Working inside a lab among graduate students and professors can get overwhelming as an undergraduate. One student mentioned that she had difficulties with the instruments used inside the labs. Another student working inside a chemistry lab also said that she sometimes gets confused because she does not know the names of the different types of equipment. However, these technical difficulties are learning opportunities students can use to sharpen their skills following a summer internship in a research lab. Professor Han also raised her concerns that the tasks assigned to undergraduate students might be redundant to the students as data collection and analysis is a time-consuming process that needs to be reproducible and reliable. “However,” she said, ” Long-term goals can be achieved by small boring tasks.”