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Chinmay Mittal - Yale and SURA at IIT Delhi

Updated: Dec 29, 2022




Motivation

I was clear about what I wanted to do. I wanted to do something technical but also application-driven, and I was particularly interested in research. I might want to do a master’s or Ph.D in the future. and thus wanted to try out research. I chose SURA because, due to covid, it was challenging to get an offline research internship, and SURA offered more interaction than a remote internship. It is a similar experience just at IIT Delhi itself.


Preparation

Deciding what you want to do is tricky; once you figure that out, preparation becomes streamlined. I had some related courses in the second year, was doing competitive programming, and started doing some online courses in machine learning to build my CV and cover letter.

Initially, I was sending specific emails, but then I realized that emails had to be sent in bulk and thus decided to make a generic mail and send it with some changes. The email plays a less important role than the professor's will to take in interns; therefore, bulk mailing is essential. Over time I made some changes to get a shorter-crisper cover letter. Good grades and relevant experience in terms of projects are crucial segments in a research intern CV. Grades, Scholastics, and Technical Skills should also be part of your CV. After mailing, I got a few positive responses, and there was an interview where the professor had an introductory discussion, mainly to check if I could fit in.


Experience

The Remote Yale Internship was about deep learning for medical research.

The experience of the remote internship could have been better. I had to read research papers and figure out solutions to the problems. I interacted with the professor once a week, and overall interaction was less. The problem I faced was that research papers are open-ended, and you can get lost in a remote setting due to a lack of interaction. Overall there needed to be more structure.

SURA was about applied deep learning. It was about converting an image to the corresponding text to build a device for visually impaired people. It was excellent; the process was similar, but there was more discussion with Ph.D. students and the professor. I could call my assigned mentor, and he would instantly clear my doubts. I also got to use the GPU facility at IITD.

Before these internships, I was scared to read research papers and large code bases, but I became proficient as I progressed. Overall it was a great learning experience.


Key Takeaways/Advice

One thing to remember is to stay patient during the mailing procedure; other people got responses, and I didn’t, even though I felt my credentials were better. Mailing is luck-based, and hundreds of emails must be sent before you get a positive response.

If you don’t get an internship, you are not missing out. It is possible to feel left out, but you can have a productive summer vacation even without an internship. People who cannot get a 2nd-year internship can start preparing for the 3rd-year internship, which is more structured. Also, you can build skills by doing online courses on subjects that interest you or doing a project at IITD physically. If you don’t get a research internship, you can mail startups and try working in them.

Internships are to give exposure to what you want to do. Do not look at what others are doing; focus on your interests and work towards them.

 

Interviewed by - Harshit Garg



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