Internship Experience @ Max Planck Institute, Heidelberg, Germany: Extremely Competitive, Lively Atmosphere

Name, College, Year

Rishabh Vohra, 5th year student at Amity Law School Delhi, GGSIP University.


Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg, Germany

Duration of the internship

June 11, 2018- August 10, 2018. It is highly recommended that you apply for a period not less than 8 weeks.

Application Process

The application process is fairly simple but quite time consuming. The applicant is required to submit a letter of motivation, a detailed CV, copy of high school diploma and academic transcripts through before the deadline for the relevant period expires. If for instance, one wants to apply for an internship for the month of June, the application process expires on 1st December of the previous year.

After the submission of all the documents, shortlisted candidates will undergo a round of personal interviews with the research fellows of the institute and then the finally selected candidates will receive an offer of internship.

Everything regarding the application process can be found at this page.

Location and timings

The institute is located within the sciences block of the University of Heidelberg and is quite near to the mystic old town and castle of Heidelberg.

The official timings of the institute are from 9:30 in the morning till 6 in the evening. However, when you leave shall solely depend on the amount of work you have and on the discretion of your mentor as well.

It is also pertinent to mention that an intern is bound to work for a maximum amount of 40 hours in a week according to the work permit issued by the federal employment agency.

First day formalities and impression

Like at any other internship, the first day can be a slog getting through all the formalities with the administration department.

The first day of my internship began with an introduction with my mentor followed by the signing of important documents and getting acquainted with the procedure of accessing books through the humongous library of the institute.

Then the IT department issued an institutional email id and work station through which all official work and correspondence is to be done. I was fortunate enough that my mentor took utmost care of me and made me familiar with the institute by personally showing around the institute.

When the lunch time came, suddenly a vibe of studying at an international university hit me. The institute gave us Id cards which could be used to access the central cafeteria of the University of Heidelberg where a huge buffet is waiting for you and students from the entire university are having lunch.

My first impression of the institute was absolutely breathtaking. The interns were being treated with utmost respect and dignity and the place was buzzing with research scholars from all around the world engaged in conducting their research.

Main tasks

Before the beginning of the internship, I was assigned a research fellow of the institute who would be my mentor for the whole duration of the internship. Therefore, the primary task of the internship was to work with the mentor and and assist and contribute to the research being conducted by the mentor and get engaged with various research projects being conducted by the institute.

Since the Institute’s research examines legal issues from the perspective of legal doctrine and theory, systematizes and compares, and contributes to the development of public international law and addressing current issues in the field of public international law, comparative constitutional law and European law among others, the interns are expected to essentially work on areas of public international law.

There can be situations where the areas of interest of the intern and the mentor may not match, as it happened with me. But is not a thing to worry about as the institute is quite flexible in this regard and the intern is given ample amount of space and time to conduct his independent research while simultaneously working on tasks assigned by the institute.

I was fortunate enough to research on issues related to international monetary policy coordination while independently working on the European refugee crisis and the failure of the Common European Asylum System. The interns are encouraged to collaborate with their mentors and work together on an area of interest and formulate their research in the form of a research paper or a blog.

Work environment

Since there are research scholars conducting academic research from all around the world, the work environment is quite studious and intellectual in nature.

One of the most innovative and amazing things I found about the institute were the concepts of Monday and Tuesday meetings, an academic gathering of all the research fellows and visiting researchers where everyone used to get an opportunity to acquaint the gathering with recent happenings in their field of interests.

Research fellows would also present a chapter of their PhD thesis for example in order to inculcate informative opinion.

Having said that, the atmosphere at the institute was quite lively and there were some sorts of extra curricular activities going on which would keep you on your toes. Having never played football in my life, I got the opportunity to embarrass myself by taking part in the annual Max Planck Football Competition.

Good things

If you are interested in pursuing a career in the field of academic research by doing an LLM, internship at the MPI shall definitely be a stepping stone.

The internship showed me inside out, how life in the field of academic research is and what is expected out of you at an extremely competitive international level.

To be very honest, by interning at the MPI, the notion and way of conducting research completely changed for me and I got the opportunity to learn the subtle art of drafting critical research questions around which the entire research and analysis should move around and how work is conducted in organisations of international repute.

Bad things

There were no bad things in particular about the internship but arranging the visa, the work permit and a suitable accommodation is an entirely cumbersome process altogether which can be really taxing.


The institute pays a monthly stipend of € 300 which is not bad to cope up with the living expenses.


Arranging accommodation is the most difficult and tiring part of the internship experience. Since Heidelberg is a university town buzzing with students the entire year, housing is scarce and costly.

I was fortunate enough to have arranged a student accommodation in the university dorms at a quite reasonable price but finding an accommodation is no piece of cake.

I would recommend you to constantly keep looking through Airbnb, housing websites of the University of Heidelberg and WGgesucht where you find appropriate listings.

Having said that finding accommodation is not at all easy, I was told that no intern has ever gone homeless! 😉


Disclaimer: Internship experiences are opinions shared by individual law students and tend to be personal and subjective in nature. The internship experiences shared on Lawctopus are NOT Lawctopus official views on the internship.

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