There is a lot of pressure on young scientists to go abroad, especially when pursuing an academic or industry career. Therefore, many young scientists wonder whether they should go abroad already during their PhD to increase their market value for a career in science. Is this a good idea?
There is no doubt that any stay abroad adds a little bonus to your CV. Potential employers will always presume that you have broadened your horizon, learned intercultural skills, and studied additional techniques.
Unfortunately, most PhD supervisors are not in favor of sending their PhD students to another lab for several reasons:
No publishable data
It is rather challenging to produce publishable data during short stays. Thus, many supervisors are afraid that this time may be lost. However, theoretically, it may be a productive way to build relationships with other labs.
Prolonged PhD period
You have to stop all experiments in the home lab. It may be unfavorable for finishing ongoing studies on time. It may even prolong the time needed to complete your PhD and exceed the funding period.
No work in the home lab
The supervisor pays you – but you work for somebody else. You are not available for the daily/weekly duties in the home lab, such as cleaning benches, checking cells, or taking care of experiments during the weekend. Thus, other lab members must do this work, who often show only limited enthusiasm to increase their workload.
Thus, there must be compelling reasons for a short stay abroad during the PhD period. There are also important reasons NOT to go abroad. These should always be considered and compared to the factors that increase your market value for a career in science. One of the most convincing reasons may be that you learn a new technique or method, which can then be transferred to the home lab.