Navya Jain, CH1
Interned at: Monash University, Melbourne
Area of Research
I come from the Chemical Engineering department, but I was confident I didn’t want to pursue a core Chemical Internship. I was interested in working in the artificial intelligence domain, specifically computer vision. Accordingly, I looked for projects in the interdisciplinary areas when I came across my professor, whose research interests were along the lines of bioinformatics and imaging methods. According to his description, the project was predominantly a Computer Vision project with a subtle touch of bioinformatics which I found pretty enthralling; henceforth, I decided to take on the particular project for the summer.
I didn’t start my CV from scratch as I was already pursuing my semester project under an IIT Delhi professor in my third semester; thus, I already had my hands on the CV and cover letter. I started the mailing procedure somewhere around late December. The mailing process was exhausting. Due to the Covid outbreak, added to the devastating travel ban, numerous universities were not allowed to hire remote work interns, and many professors have halted their research projects. Hence, I witnessed plenty of turndowns which did shake my confidence a bit, but fortunately, during mid-Jan, I started receiving favourable responses from professors. I gave roughly 5-6 interviews to find a professor whose research area and offered project resonated with my interests.
The CV and Cover Letter
Addressing a research internship specifically, the project section in your CV followed by your CGPA is of utmost importance. The projects in your CV should directly reflect your interest in the areas you are applying for a research internship. In case you don’t have enough projects to mention in your CV, you can highlight the courses and coursework you have done in the domain you are applying for. The cover letter should convey how passionate you are about the research. As for me, I had a semester project with an IIT Delhi professor on Computer Vision along with a few self-projects I did during the semester halt, which, I believe, helped me stand out from the other applicants.
The Work Experience
Overall the work experience was pretty great; I was given freedom regarding the work I wish to do in the project and techniques I want to employ. I was given access to all the computing facilities I might need for the project. The duration of my internship was around two and a half months. It was an independent project which I was supposed to complete from beginning to end in the span of my internship. I was expected to create a machine learning model for automated segmentation and tracking endosomes in living cells. Two Ph.D. students in the process headed me if I got stuck. We had weekly meetings, but there were no hard deadlines; the internship was quite flexible. Initially, the online mode of the internship was highly monotonous in terms of sitting in front of a computer screen for long hours. Still, as the time progressed, I gelled with my Ph.D. mentors, and we decided to have a lively call every two weeks where we discussed random topics, mostly not related to the project, and chatted, which helped lighten the mood. The experience is not comparable to an offline internship, but I would still summarize it as terrific.
We got excellent results in the project; hence, the professor and the team decided to publish it in a Journal. The professor was quite impressed with the work I did, and thus he offered me a position as a Ph.D. student in his team, which honestly was astonishing.
Key Takeaways and Suggestions
If you plan to do a research internship, spend a significant amount of time finding professors and projects that reciprocate with your interests because that will only help you produce quality results to the best of your potential. Also, I would advise you to ask your professor if there is a possibility of getting the results published in a recognized paper or journal that could have an ever-lasting impact on your CV. During the interview call with the professor, make sure you are well acquainted, have a fair understanding of the work ahead, and choose only if you are interested in what the professor has to offer. Lastly, focus on learning during your internship because that’s what matters in the long run.
Interviewed by: Anukriti