Harsh Kumar Singh, ES1
Interned at IIM Ahmedabad
Domain: Research in the end of life management of a solar PVC
Motivation and the Process of Application
I did my research internship at IIM Ahmedabad, which was related to my core field, Energy Science Engineering. The topic of my research internship was energy policy; to be more concise, it was "End of Life Management of Solar PV." I had also done some projects in the college that enriched my interest in topics related to internships. So, I applied for a similar internship with some other professors in the strategy department of IIM Ahmedabad. One of the professors accepted my request, and I proceeded with my internship under him. The topic dealt with the proper disposal of solar panels that can't be used anymore. We didn't have solar panels a decade ago in India, so we are not particularly accustomed to waste management. Hence, we are in dire need of finding the right way to dispose of Solar Panels. My research was to study various findings and provide an effective solution.
My motivation for the research internship was mainly due to two reasons. First, the OCS only provides a few options for corporate internships for second-year students. Also, after taking advice from many seniors, I concluded that doing a research internship in the second year is pretty optimum, and corporate ones are taken up in the third year. This provides various options in different fields, and you also get exposure to research internships to know whether you like it or not. Secondly, my internship topic was quite exciting and a great topic to research, which I believed deserved a deeper dive.
Process of Application
The main difficulty I faced in the application process like everyone else generally encounters, is that I got few replies from the professors. So, the best you can do to prepare is to create a good CV & cover letter and mail the professors who suit you the best. Still, you can't be sure that you will get a reply. However, it was pretty easy. I got a response from the professor in the first ten emails I sent.
There was no such particular written round or interview. However, I connected with the professor through a call, and he confirmed. He asked about my projects, which I did in college. He also checked if I had the field of knowledge for what he was looking for, and in my case, the projects I did aligned with the professor's area of interest.
Work, challenges, and insecurities
I was apprehensive about the internship because it was offline in Ahmedabad, and I was the only person going there (among my friends and acquaintances). I was insecure about how people would be there and whether I'd make new friends, which is a fundamental human tendency whenever you are starting something new. But all the insecurities vanished once I entered the college, as the people there were lovely and fun to talk to. However, IIM Ahmedabad didn't provide me with any accommodation, so you have to find a PG nearby the campus. Initially, I did have some difficulty finding a PG, but once it was settled, everything sailed smoothly.
I faced a few challenges at the start- I struggled with understanding the numerous research papers that Professors provided; some were very scientific, while some were filled with "legalese" language. I took help from the seniors, who provided valuable advice and helped me fare through these mind-boggling research papers. It took a bit of time and patience, but most of the difficulties vanished once the phase was over.
My research was to study different policies of other countries and the scenario of solar panel usage in India and find out what policy would suit our country the best. For the work part, I had meetings with the professor every week or sometimes twice a week, and I had to report all the work I did and discussed in the last meeting. I also used to discuss my doubts regarding the internship with him. It wasn't very work-intensive. I could plan my schedule according to my ease. I wasn't also restricted from taking a work day off and going out somewhere. I could easily compensate for the time which I used for leisure. The professor was amiable and helpful, and I could work according to my flexibility.
Experience from the offline internship:
As the internship was centred in Ahmedabad, I was introduced to Gujarati Culture And learned some new things there. I learned a little bit of the Gujarati language and visited many famous places in Gujarat during the days off and weekends. There were people from many different IITs as well as DU. Apart from that, I also met some outstanding professors at IIM Ahmedabad. The best experiences of a research internship are the connections you make during the process. During weekends, we usually went to the old city of Ahmedabad, famous for its food. The Vikram Sarabhai Library of IIM Ahmedabad was also a fun place to hang out. You could have discussions there and also make some noise. We used to play UNO there whenever we were free.
The advice that I would like to give the juniors is that a research internship doesn't need to be as theoretical as we may conceptualise it to be. In some research internships, you might only do coding, making ML models, etc. In others, you might analyse the data, while in some, you may spend most of the time reading research papers. You can opt for any research internship that you like, but you have to start as early as possible to have many options in your hands and choose what suits you best.
You should prepare a well-drafted cover letter and a decent and legible CV. You should get it verified by seniors who have already done research internships. Another important thing that should be kept in mind is that you have to take advice from seniors who have experience in research internships; they can also tell you about the professor to whom you can apply. In the whole process, you have to be very patient. I've seen people who got a research internship offer around six months before the internship, and some people got an offer even just a month before the internship. You'll surely get a reply if you have worked hard on your CV and showed interest in the professor's area of research.