This is the first of my interview article to people inside and outside academia who made their own way to success. I decided to start talking about the experience of Cosimo and Vincenzo. They both come from Southern Italy like me and are currently working at the Institute of Aerospace Technology at the University of Nottingham. They are both PhD students at the University and won the prestigious Marie Curie PhD scholarship.

Cosimo and Vincenzo graduated from the University of Bologna in Electrical and I met them last year during one of the networking events between the Centres of Doctorial Training and the Institute of Aerospace in Nottingham.

To follow Cosimo and Vincenzo please check their LinkedIn profiles Cosimo Spagnolo and Vincenzo Madonna (they are both very active sharing their research) or via Twitter @IAT_Vincenzo and @iat_cosimo

  1. How did you guys hear from the Marie Curie scholarship? We did a one-year internship, compulsory to get a Master degree in Italy, at the University of Nottingham. Our supervisor as well as other professors and lectures back in Italy recommended this programme and encouraged to apply.
  2. Why did you guys think you won the scholarship? Maybe the first-class degree? Having a first-class degree isn’t necessary despite a minimum second-class honours grade (2:1) is compulsory. It’s much more important having some experience abroad, like Erasmus, and preliminary work experience in the field. We had both, as we did our internship at the University of Nottingham and did loads of experimental work with regards the aerospace technology.
  3. What’s the most interesting part of your PhD? Being involved in many extra-PhD activities. We were involved in the design of a drone fuelled by solar cells, for example (see pic). We took part in many events, like open days, wonder days and IAT showcases. The Marie Curie scholarship also comes with loads of money for travelling and conferences. We went to the Paris Air show (one of the most important events in this field, see pic) as well as attending an international conference in Beijing during our first year. We get the chance to work side by side with our industrial partners. This allows us to have a clear idea 26772190_10215582831672274_455991838_oof what the aerospace market needs to progress and we can shape and design our research accordingly. Finally, we have access to unlimited numbers of training for our continuous professional development.
  4. What pieces of advice would you give to students who want to apply for a Marie Curie scholarship? The first one is to find a programme which best suits your experience and expertise. Write a professional CV and nice cover letter. Your CV must stand out to pass the first preliminary shortlist and access an interview with your future boss. A good understanding of English is required as a B2 level at your English exam is mandatory to access the UK high education programmes.

To practise your English, we suggest buying books to pass the IELTS from Amazon

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