Renata Castelo-Branco, from Instituto Superior Técnico, and João Brandão, from the University of Porto, took to the stage at the world's largest networking conference, in Tirana, Albania, to share the research work they have been doing at the Lightning Talks of the largest European academic networking event. The two Portuguese students who participated in #TNC23 tell us all about their experience.

"Multicultural interactions are essential for researchers"

Renata Castelo-Branco

What led you to apply for the GÉANT Lightning Talks challenge?
Firstly, to make my work known and receive feedback from people outside my typical research circle, which often lacks originality because I am already addicted to the topics we cover. Secondly, the opportunity to travel itself, to get to know and immerse myself in a different culture.

How can you describe the experience? What are some of the key learnings? 

Multicultural interactions are always enriching from a personal point of view. But on a professional level, for researchers in particular, they are essential. This experience allowed me to expand my network of contacts, both inside and outside our NREN.

Did you get any other added value from this experience, apart from the training component? 

From suggestions and ideas related to the work I presented to job offers, the professional gains were many. From a personal point of view, I would also like to point out that the group of participants in the FTP was composed of extraordinary people whom I enjoyed meeting.

How can you describe the atmosphere at TNC23? 

The conference has an exceptionally family-friendly atmosphere for an event of this size. There is a clear intention on the part of the organization to promote interactions between participants and the result is plain to see. I spoke to people from a little bit of everywhere and, from sales staff to the CEOs of the various companies taking part, they were all incredibly approachable and interested.

Is there anything you wish to add?

The team that accompanied us throughout the process was tireless and of incredible care and attention to us. 

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"The experience at TNC was amazing and unforgettable"

João Brandão

What made you apply for GEANT's LTC challenge?
My master thesis supervisor at FEUP shared this opportunity with me and I accepted the challenge! We had the possibility, over 3 months, to have training sessions on how to present scientific and/or technical topics in public and prepare the presentation on our work. I did not expect to be selected, due to the quality of the work of each of the participants, but I was very happy with the news and with a sense of responsibility to be at the level of an event of this relevance. 

How can you describe your experience? What are some of the main learnings?
The experience at TNC was amazing and unforgettable! Having the possibility to follow the work of so many
experts in the areas of networks and technology was a privilege. It was also great to be able to contact the NREN of each country and it was very special to feel the support of the FCCN members present at the event. It was my debut in this type of conferences, I had never stepped on a stage like this and with such an audience, so it was a huge learningexperience and I undoubtedly leave here better prepared for future challenges.

Did you get any other added value from this experience, besides the training component?
Absolutely! I think the greatest added value goes beyond the training component! All the conditions that were provided to us in Tirana were amazing! We had the support of the FTP managers and we created a strong bond between the participating students from the very beginning, so we could get to know the city while getting to know each other.

All the social moments of the event were magnificent, from the Speakers' Reception, to the Kick-off Party in one of the main streets of Tirana with international music, not forgetting the Conference Dinner in one of the mountains near the city! As GÉANT's CEO told us, these moments are also working moments, as this is where you start to build relationships of trust between the participants.

How can you describe the atmosphere at TNC23?
The whole atmosphere was relaxed, apart from the nervousness before going on stage and presenting. I always felt super integrated and the proof of this was the
meeting we had with the CEO of GÉANT, where he showed interest in knowing what each of us did and what we were thinking about TNC.

Is there anything you would like to add?
Just to thank FCCN and GEANT for the opportunity they provided and encourage all potential applicants to apply and be able to experience this in the next edition! Tirana is an amazing city, booming and unknown to many of us, but I'm sure Rennes also has many hidden treasures and it will be a wonderful experience!

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