Khushi Tekwani, CH7
Interned at: Stanford University and Harvard University
Area of research
I actually did two internships, one at the beginning of the summer and one during the July/ August period. Both of them were very different, one was finance-based, and the other was based on organizational science and understanding the aspects of working from home environment.
CV, Cover Letter and CGPA
CV making is a very time-consuming process. I started making my CV towards the end of December, but initially, I wasn't very keen on applying for a research internship. Then one of my seniors suggested that I should at least give research a try and then decide whether I want to pursue it or not, so then I gave it some thought and started making my CV. When my semester got over in February, that is when I started making my CV seriously. It is a long process because you need to present all your work well, so my suggestion is that you compile all your achievements, PORs, ECAs, or course projects and frame them so that they look fancier and make you look sincere. Once done with the first draft, I sent it to many seniors who helped me with the required corrections. I learned that every line should be at least 80% filled so that no line looks empty. I also understood that you should write things in your CV to the point and not unnecessarily try to fill up the lines.
The cover letter is something in which you are supposed to be very subtle in what you're interested in, it is comparatively easier than your CV, and you're supposed to write it in 3 paragraphs- the first should have your introduction, college, department; the second should showcase your interest and what you would want to work on, but it should be subtle so that you don't seem rigid, i.e., you should look like you're flexible enough to explore more, and in the third maybe mention about the professor's work that you've been through on their website or otherwise and show interest in working on the same.
Definitely, CG matters when you're applying for an internship in the technical field due to more competition, but generally, when you apply for research, what matters more is how you present your CV, how you show all the work you've done in the past and how good you're at sorting out all the professors you need to mail. In short, intelligent mailing matters a lot more than CG in a research internship.
Many of my friends did target mailing; they sent emails addressed to the specific professors and the work/projects done by those professors. Since I started the mailing process comparatively later, I did the mass mailing. I sent identical emails to each professor, but I used the professor's name in the salutation, keeping the same content in my emails. This adds a personal touch to those emails. When you apply to Ivy League Universities, you know that the chances of getting a reply from top-tier professors are slim to none. So, I looked for professors who had published remarkably few papers but with projects that inclined with my interests. As here, there will be comparatively less competition or fewer applications for the research internship, the chances of you being considered to become relatively high. It's definitely an added advantage to start early, but it's never too late to start the mailing process, so don't get disheartened even if you are unable to or didn't start early. Just focus on what field you want to explore and try to find professors from different universities for the same area.
The first internship I got was at Stanford, and my professor was charming and helpful. She was very understanding and used to clear my doubts very well. This internship was in the financial field and what we did is that we understand the global networking of banks and analyze the ancient global trade system of exports and imports. We also performed data analysis on the data set of banks across the globe for 1853- 2018. Then we tried to develop a very efficient model based on this data. I love the finance field, and I learned a lot about the world of finance, banks, and trades through this internship. My experience was great since the professor was very kind and understanding.
The second one I got was in Harvard, which was about virtual water coolers in which we analyzed working from home environment and how one's working environment and setup affects their job performance. We took surveys of people in different companies in which we studied their lowlights and highlights for the entire duration of their internship at a company and then performed content coding on the data/comments. The other student, with me, was from IIT Mumbai, and he further used the application of ML on these content codes. We had weekly meetings with the professor to discuss the project status and developments. Overall, it was a great experience.
It was mainly that technology has advanced a lot and communication channels were great. There is a channel called SLACK through which we had everything done; frequent face-to-face meetings were unnecessary. Working with the student from IIT Mumbai was also a great experience because you learned that even though you're working on different parts of a project, all of them contribute to the project's success. I thought I wouldn't like research, but I liked how you study and analyze things from scratch and then come to a conclusion on your own. Moreover, I also understood that doing an internship of your interest is rather important than just going for a well-renowned institute or brand name.
Interviewed by: Jasmeet Kaur Bhatia