Updated: Feb 27
Institute and Field of Internship
I did my internship at Max Plank institute, a famous group of research institutes in the field of solar system research. My area was data analysis in the field of astronomy.
Reason for choosing this particular field
I didn't exactly choose this field. I was pretty late in starting mailing. I started in December, and upon getting no response in 1-2 days, I gave up and discontinued mailing. Even after that, I procrastinated a lot and, as a result, didn't have anything till March. I, however, used to check the OCS Portal, and when Max Planck came searching for interns, I applied, and that's how I got my internship. I was interested in astrophysics in my school days, so when I got this internship offer, I thought, let's give it a chance and go for it.
Application and Process
I applied using the CV I made on the OCS portal. I think what worked in my favour was my branch and grade. Since both of us who were selected were from MnC Department, I think they had some kind of a conception that since this department has a combination of mathematics and coding, it would suit our cause perfectly. One more aspect they were quite inclined toward was my python skills. They used different python libraries to do their astronomical research and wanted someone who was proficient in python. I had quite a few projects involving python in my CV, so I think that worked in my favour.
Professors do judge you by your CG, but it isn't like you won't be able to land an internship because of a low CG. I had a friend who had a CG of about 7.5 and got a very good internship. The Cg becomes essential when you compare someone for a spot. Then it's evident that the one with better CG will be chosen over you. However, there are so many colleges, if you keep trying, then you will eventually get an internship, irrespective of a low grade. You just have to keep mailing. Some bag an intern in 50 emails, and some are not able to get it with even a thousand, so just keep trying.
Projects hold particular importance because they prove how much you know. However, that being said, don't wait for your cv to have enough projects before you start mailing, you should begin mailing as soon as possible. I wrote two of my COL100 projects even though they weren't that noteworthy, and then I wrote about a reading project I did on a Maths topic in the summer of My first year. If you don't have that, you could do self-projects by taking online courses or by finding topics on YouTube. Many people ask for projects from professors in the middle of the semester, it's great if you can manage to get and sustain one, but you should remember to keep mailing and making your cv by the side.
Anything I learned in my courses here wasn't directly applied, but the basic concepts of physics, chemistry and maths came in handy while understanding the research papers.
I had supervisors who monitored and guided my work. The work experience was quite chill. There was no overworking, with the weekends being strictly weekends. I didn't have to do any extra work, and even before assigning any work, they asked me multiple times whether the time was enough to get the job done.
This gave me much free time to explore the country around me. One of my main reasons for going for a foreign internship was to get a taste of what it feels like to work in a foreign country, whether it is lonely or not and to get to know the local culture, which was achieved because of this free time I got. I didn't want to feel guilty about not exploring that part later.
There's another interesting story to substantiate this. So, my internship was supposed to be two months long, but because of a visa delay, it got shortened by ten days. So, I asked them whether I should start working. They said it was fine if I didn't want to because I would not be paid. Still, I got involved, and the supervisor took out time and, using a presentation, explained what they were working on, which I really liked. Even my first week of work only involved reading research papers. Even if I didn't know this theory, it wouldn't have affected my work, but the supervisors were involved with me and genuinely wanted me to learn something wholesome from experience and didn't treat me as just someone to get their work done.
There is a mission by NASA to have a 3D map of the milky way galaxy. Astrometry is a new method which is instrumental in achieving this objective. My research revolved around finding a particular wavelength to reduce errors. The technology is set to be deployed in March 2023. We sent the data to some professors and received a positive response. A research paper publication is also under process. These things take time. When a research paper is written, people are not entirely sure whether things will work or not, but ya things are under process.
I wanted to try my hand at research. I didn't know what I wanted to do after college, so going outside and doing a research internship was important because I wanted to know how it felt and whether it suited me. Though people go blindly for foreign research interns, good research internship opportunities are also available within India. People are leaving Indian colleges just for the tag of FRI. If you prefer a foreign intern, it's fine, but the priority should be to work under a better professor and not whether the intern is domestic or international.
The 2nd Year Summer Internship does affect the preparation for the 3rd Year Internship. Actually, affected is not the right word because intern preparation is unending. It doesn't mean you’ll also leave studying in the sem and just prepare for the internship. The experience of a research intern is nice. If one wants that, then one should definitely go for it. If you don't, then too it's chill. Prepare for your corporate internship. Time is used up, but it's an experience. Also, if time is an issue, there is this option of having a remote intern, that way, you could do an internship and save quite a lot of time.
Advice to juniors about the intern process after 2nd year
The first thing is to remove all negative thoughts from your head. This happened with me a lot where I thought Mera toh intern lagega hi nhi. You need to counter it. Everyone can get an internship. Just keep mailing and don't procrastinate or give up.
Then, keep checking the OCS portal. In any case, you will have your interns in 3rdf year through OCS, so if nothing, it would at least make you familiar with the process. Also, since most people in 3rd year are looking for a corporate intern, if any company comes looking for research interns, 2nd-year students have a better chance at getting those positions.
The third thing I would like to say is that don't wait for anything. Just start mailing early to the professors of your choice. Don't think that I don't have enough projects, so I won't mail them now. Keep building your cv and keep the mailing process on, side by side.
Interviewed by - Abhinava Anwesha Mohanty