Secondments: Great opportunity to gain experience and build networks

ITN Windmill
3 min readJul 4, 2022


One exciting part of being Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action (MSCA) ESR is its secondments, where you find the opportunity to temporary move to other institutes and do research in a new environment.

Based on your project, it is possible to experience working and doing research in two different places (both in academia and industry), which is a great chance to collaborate with other experts in the field and build a research network.

I did my secondments in two different environments, one of which was a telecommunication operator mainly focusing on communication, and the second one an academic and data science center primarily focused on machine learning.

In this blog post I will share my experiences with secondments.

Telenor, Oslo

My first secondment was in Telenor ASA, Oslo, Norway, a Norwegian majority state-owned multinational telecommunications company with headquarters located in Fornebu, a small and beautiful suburban municipality, 10km west of Oslo’s downtown.

Telenor headquarters at Fornebu, near Oslo
Beautiful view from Telenor’s building

I was living in eastern Oslo and used to commute every day, but as public transportation was super efficient, it wasn’t an issue.
During my visit to Telenor, I had a chance to work and study the performance of early developed commercial 5G mmWave networks by doing extensive outdoor measurements for different scenarios and environments.

Example of our measurement setup

Here, I learned that real-world systems are very different from simulated systems mainly used in academia.
Sometimes an operational system stops working, and it is not easy to make everything work again, while in a simulated environment you have full control and can manage everything.

ETH, Zurich

Almost a month ago I started my visit to the Swiss Data Science Center (SDSC), ETH, Zurich, Switzerland, which is an entirely different environment than Telenor.

Here the research topics are machine learning and data science. I am working on Transformer models and other advanced deep learning models and some of their possible applications in wireless communications.

SDSC is a super dynamic and international place full of experts from across the globe.

It is clearly an excellent chance for me to challenge my skills in machine learning and programming while working with a team of professionals on world-class ML problems.

So far, it has been great, and I’ve enjoyed every second of my stay in Zurich and SDSC.

ETH Zurich, Zentrum campus

Zurich in itself is a beautiful city, especially for the lovers of hiking and running like myself.

Here is the picture I took some time ago while hiking and appreciating the nature of western Zurich.

Fallätsche, Zurich

Golden point

If you are coming from a non-EU country it’s always better to arrange your secondment at least 4–5 months earlier and be sure about the VISA policies.

For me the visa and work permit process both for Norway and Switzerland was really frustrating, as neither of them were part of EU and had their own unique policies.


Article written and edited by Salman Mohebi, a PhD researcher at University of Padova.