Marie Skłodowska-Curie grants help researchers carry out their individual research mobility, gain experience abroad and rise a career. One call is open just now, another will run next year. Why does it make sense to apply for Marie Curie as a fellow? What does it mean to write a successful application? And what can a young scientist bring to the team he/she joins? We asked successful fellows and tutors from BUT.
Although there is currently no fellow working directly at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, a small connection could be found. Zdeněk Jakub, a graduate of physical engineering from FME, works in Jan Čechal’s research group at CEITEC BUT, which focuses on the development of new unique devices and materials. After studying at BUT, Jakub moved to the TU Wien, then returned to his alma mater thanks to a Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant. “It has several advantages: it is a prestigious grant, relatively well funded and it will be a great experience for my next career,” says a new fellow Jakub.
His supervisor Jan Čechal himself has experience as a fellow, from 2010 to 2012 he joined a research group at the Max Planck Institute. “It was a big career change and big experience. They were among the first to make molecular systems, which we do here today,“ recalls Čechal. That’s why he likes to welcome young fellows to his team. “Marie Curie is one of the best individual mobility programs and also one of the few ways to pay for a PostDoc from abroad,” he says.
The competition is high in Marie Skłodowska-Curie, only 15% of applicants succeed. However, Jan Čechal points out that in many cases it is possible to obtain money from the Czech Ministry, which – if the program is announced – will financially support quality applicants who have remained “below the line”.
Little bureaucracy, a lot of science
Mireia Diez Sánchez also has experience with Marie Curie, she worked at BUT as a fellow in a research group at the Faculty of Information Technology. “You have to work hard to prepare the application. I would recommend finding an institution involved to help you write the application because you have to put together a lot of things. But once you submit the application and you succeed, it’s done. You don’t have to do any interim reports, meet milestones and deal with administration. You can really focus on your research. I would recommend anyone who wants to “grow up” a bit as a researcher to try it,” says Sánchez.
What are their tips for a successful application? “Start in advance, don’t think it’s something you’ll write in a few weeks. It must be well organized, nothing must be missing. If you know someone who has already applied and succeeded, ask for their experience and advice on what to look out for, what to focus on,” Sanchez recommends.
“First of all, the applicant should carefully read the conditions, answer all the questions and leave nothing out, it is really necessary to comment on everything. And I think it must be written in such a way that the evaluators are enthusiastic about your research after reading the application,” says successful applicant Jakub.
And the tutor’s view? “The most important thing is to find a consensus on what we will be the research topic. The application must be reliable and as specific as possible so that the evaluator can imagine what you mean. So instead of writing “I will consult with my fellow regularly”, you better write “There will be a two-hour individual consultation every week”. The part of career development is also important, the applicant must explain why he wants to join us. When you apply for the ETH Zurich, you probably don’t have to explain why, but why Brno and BUT? How will this develop your career? We are lucky that we have very high-quality equipment that fellows can aim for,” concludes Čechal.