An elite French internship program has given an RMIT computer science PhD student the opportunity to work for a major multinational.
Iman Amini has won a year-long internship with French power and transport multinational Alstom, which includes a $30,000 scholarship as well as funding for travel, language learning and other expenses.
The scholarship from the French Embassy’s French Company Experience Program (FCEP) promotes cross-cultural understanding between France and Australia by giving students professional experience in French multinational companies.
As the only student from RMIT to be successful in this intake, Mr Amini successfully negotiated an application process that included multiple interviews.
"The selection process was three-fold: by RMIT, then the French Embassy and finally a phone interview with the company offering the internship," he said.
While Mr Amini is fluent in programming languages, he needs to brush up on his French.
"It’s a great opportunity to gain industrial experience, while improving my programming skills in a new setting, and as I’ll be transferred to Paris for six months, I’ll be paid to learn French," he said.
RMIT is one of an exclusive group of Australian universities, including members of the Group of Eight and the Australian Technology Network, who are partnering with the French Embassy on the program.
Professor Mark Sanderson, Mr Amini’s PhD supervisor at RMIT’s School of Computer Science and IT, said there was enormous interest from students across Australia, but only a select few were successful this time.
"The application process was extremely competitive and only a few, exceptional students were selected from across Australia to participate," he said.
"This is a terrific achievement by Mr Amini and I know everyone at the School is very happy for him – and envious of his trip to Paris."
Although it was Professor Sanderson who initially told him about the program, Mr Amini said it was the skills and experience from his computer science study, at Masters and then PhD level, which were crucial to him in gaining the role.
"My PhD is about improving search methods for health data, using text mining and advanced information retrieval techniques to process and retrieve health records," he said.
"During both my PhD and Masters I acquired a range of skills in managing and working with structured and unstructured data, which helped me to be shortlisted for this opportunity."
A world-leading rail transport supplier, Alstom has a major presence in Australia, and before spending six months in Alstom’s head office in Paris’ west end, Iman is spending 6 months working in the company’s Melbourne base.
"My job is to process their big data and enhance the way they currently exchange data between the train operators," he said.
"The data I’ll be working with will mostly include indications of the status of train lines via text messages between the operators, but I should be able to use data mining techniques in the text processing phase of the data exchange to help improve the process and address problems."
The FCEP is a partnership established in 2010 between the French Embassy and a leading group of Australian universities, and offers internships for Australian students in French companies with operations in Australia.
The program’s goal is to increase Australian student mobility to France, so they can better understand the French socio-economic environment, develop linguistic skills and gain motivation for further studies, thereby, preparing them for workplace leadership.