There were primarily two reasons. I decided to pursue higher studies, and research experience is crucial for applications and an integral part of the studies. Besides recommendations from the institute professors, an external LOR also helps. The second factor was about credit. In a corporate role, work done by us(employees) results in dividends for the higher-ups. I wanted due credit for my work, and research offered that.
To apply for research projects, one needs to build credibility and proper background. I applied for DISA in 2nd year but didn’t get it. So, I took projects and project-based courses in the 3rd year, some team-based and some individual. They helped me understand the thought process, learn the etiquettes, and gave me insight into the art of “directed findings.”
One of the main things I believe helped me bag this internship was my research statement (aka Motivation letter/Statement of Purpose). It is an essential element, along with the research projects. I effectively communicated my clarity of purpose and motivation in the statement.
I scoured the internet for professors working in my fields of interest. I wanted my research to result in a paper and hence was willing to work on long-term projects. Highlighting the same, I started to send them emails around the beginning of March. I initially mailed professors from top colleges but knew inside that I might not receive a positive reply from them. I had approached some professors for an internship in the 2nd year also. One of them liked my profile but couldn’t offer me an internship due to the constraints put by Covid. However, he mentioned that he’d connect me to more projects in the future. Staying true to his word, when I sent him an email this time, he recommended me to the project at Clemson.
The project focuses on modifying and applying DL techniques for water level analysis. I knew international travel would be iffy because of the onset of the 3rd wave in the US in mid-March, and hence the internship was remote. The Ph.D. students I worked with were friendly and fun. Being remote does affect the speed of research but not necessarily the performance. Since research is inherently slow, that didn’t cause much trouble. This was my first experience of a truly interdisciplinary project, and I enjoyed it.
After learning the trade through my previous projects, this was the first one where I proceeded in a focused direction. The professor was impressed by the rate at which I made essential findings, which was encouraging. I’m involved in the project currently (despite the end of the initial period), and we’re close to publishing our results in a paper!
I learnt the procedure of writing a paper, which involves several iterations. I can also say I’m comfortable reading journals and papers from conferences and extracting relevant ideas/information from them. :)
Written by: Avi Patni