EMBL
2.9 of 5 16 reviews
www.embl.de Heidelberg, Germany 500 to 999 Employees

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4 people found this helpful  

Beware of the other side of the coin ...

PhD Student ('Predoc') (Former Employee)
Heidelberg, Baden-Wurttemberg (Germany)

ProsThe positive aspects of working at EMBL are the access to numerous conferences organized at EMBL, the 'facilitation' in acquiring funding in some (but not all) research groups, the availability of 'core facilitiies' and advanced imaging equipment. PhD students enrolled in the PhD program obtain stipends with minimum bureaucracy. Postdoctoral fellows working on multidisciplinary projects can apply for a relatively well paid internal fellowship (EIPOD). Students and postdoctoral fellows benefiting from internal EMBL salaries, are paid considerably more that their counterparts in German Universities, yet within the norm of several European countries. Stipends and fellowships paid through EMBL are tax-free (but their holders also do not participate in the German social security and welfare system, unemployement and retirement schemes). Some (but not all) groups can benefit from extensive external funding allowing their employees to carry out ambitious projects that would not have been possible in many other institutions. The package available to young beginning group leaders is attractive, with considerable internal funding each year and the opportunity to recruit students through the PhD program without the necessity to raise funding independently. Recently a new building was constructed to house the administration and conference services. There is a cafeteria open until the late afternoon and a canteen serving vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals at lunch. Two small 'guesthouses' located 15 and 30 minutes away from the institute rent rooms to new arrivals and people wishing to live near EMBL, facilitating relocation. A small in-house childcare facility is available although it is quite expensive, compared to alternatives in the city. There are also in-house French and German courses offered (also quite expensive). A 'shuttle' service albeit arriving at conspicously early hours and infrequently in the evening is available to transport a small groups of people (9) to the guesthouses and city center.

ConsAlthough the institute is quite prestigious, it is also quite elitist and competitive. Emphasis is put on high impact factor publications rather than a continuity of research. Frequently students and postdoctoral fellows leave EMBL after over three years research without any publications. The institute is designed to foster advanced method development and innovation. Thus, traditional 'non-risky' proects are not encouraged. Although the institute advertises as international, the atmosphere remains quintessentialy German, quite rigid and hierarchical, often impeding on a much needed exchange of ideas. The institute is quite isolated both geographically and intellectually. It is literally located on a hill quite far from the city and is difficult to access without a car as public transport is scarce if not absent at times. There is little to no contact with the prestigious University of Heidelberg due to inter-institute competition and a language barrier, often even within the groups of the small set of group leaders affiliated with both institutions. Frequently, research fellows are paid through alternative schemes such as through the university with considerably lower German university salary scale, rendering international relocation financialy difficult. The students and postdoctoral fellows that are paid through EMBL stipends and fellowships, do not participate in social security, welfare, unemployement and retirement schemes. Scientist by definition tend to study and begin contributing to their home country's social security schemes later than most. The inability to contribute neither to their home country's nor to the local social security scheme puts EMBL scientists at a considerable disadvantage as compared to their counterparts working in public academic European institutions, where this would be available and may be quite valuabe especially when funding runs out at the end of projects or during long review processes. The carreer opportunities are group- and publication-dependent, and a humble publication record after leaving EMBL is frequently far more poorly perceived outside of EMBL by future recruiters as compared to that of students or postdoctoral fellows from less prestigious institutions. Most scientists work very long hours, including weekends, there is little opporutnity to relax and blow off steam.
The city of Heidelberg is quite small and quaint, but nevertheless a small rural German city. Opportunities for entertainment are quite limited to the non German-speaker. Despite the in-house German lessons (quite costly) and numerous courses available in the city, few can boast to speak fluent German after 3 years at EMBL, where the working language is English, and working hours do not permit true integration within the local community and immersion necessary for mastering the language.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    good. well paid and give good chances to get another job after

    PhD Student (Current Employee)
    Heidelberg, Baden-Wurttemberg (Germany)

    I have been working at EMBL


    Pros: big research fundings, conferences every week, international enviroment, salary, health… Cons: long hours in the lab, very competitive enviroment Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend More
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    Revelation

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)
    Rome (Italy)

    I have been working at EMBL


    Pros: International, Competitive, excellent funding, great personal and professional support Cons: Quota for EU citizens reduces non EU diversity Advice to Senior Management: Try to increase quota of EMBL funded students per group Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend More
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