Updated: Dec 29, 2022
“A person doesn’t need complete clarity about the domain you want to pursue a career while considering a 2nd-year intern. You should apply for anything that piques your interest and feel you can do an excellent job of it.”
Motivation and Application Procedure
Everyone, including the seniors and all my peers, initially said ‘research intern lagao’ ‘research intern lagao’, so I started mailing professors. In the end, I had three affirmative responses; with a couple of them, I was at the closing stage of my internship. It was when the Covid wave struck, and the Omicron variant was spreading, so most likely, my internship would happen in online mode, which I didn’t want. My primary motivation for an offline intern was to gain hands-on experience in the chemical engineering field.
If someone is mailing for a research intern, the perfect time to start would be as early as possible. Around August, I started making my CV as soon as my 3rd semester started. Since I was a beginner, it took me around one to two months to make a CV that I was happy with. I started my initial mailing in October but was very sluggish with it. What fuels you is seeing your peers getting their interns, so it motivated me to begin mailing rigorously. I mailed mostly during November and December. By the end of December, I didn't receive a single response. By then, my friends were mass mailing; they didn't feel dejected even if they exhausted 300-400 leads. But on the contrary, I was doing very specific mailing. I was reading about the professor, going through one or two of their papers, and mentioning what I liked about them. Initially, it was pretty demotivating not getting any positive responses. The most important thing to remember is not to compare yourself to anyone. You should always take time and maintain a positive mindset throughout the process. In the end, you should remember that you should have done something constructive during the summer vacation. I received a few positive responses in January, but they were of unpaid interns, and I was not in favour of an unpaid intern. I had multiple offers for online research interns around February, one from T U Delft and one from a university in Australia. Still, I rejected those in favour of an offline intern. While emailing for a research intern, I wasn't aware that a corporate internship was possible in the second year. I learned about corporate interns through seniors and a Google search. So I started looking for chemical engineering companies with offline interns and took in 2nd-year interns for practical work. But after much research, I learned that it was almost impossible for sophomores to get an internship through traditional mailing, and it was mostly done through referrals. Even my intern was through a referral. I made up a list of companies where I wanted to intern, and I took my parents’ help. After being referred, I was called and asked for my CV and had to undergo multiple interviews. During this process, I felt the tag of being an IITian helped me immensely, as I was generally viewed favourably and received positive responses. My entire process was finalised in February, and I got my final offer letter by April. The internship started on 10 June and lasted for two months.
I didn't pick up the standard template as a lot of space was wasted. I will advise you to pick up any typical template that doesn’t have much-wasted space. Your CV should have relevant points to the domain you are applying for. You should create multiple CVs for applying to multiple profiles with differences and iterations. Understanding your strong points and highlighting them in the CV is essential. It is not necessary that your CV should have glowing points, and you should have done multiple projects or have achieved a lot in extracurriculars. You could add course projects or assignments you have done or any term papers you have presented. In my interview, the professors usually remarked on my technical skills and questioned me about them, so write the skills you are confident about. I would be very frank, the professor overlooks the POR and ECA section, and it doesn't hold the same weightage that it does in placements and other internships.
My internship was a corporate one, where I worked at Jubilant Ingrevia, Indore. I was a part of their R&D department. My main area of research was increasing the yield of a chemical reaction used in the Agro sector. It was a combination of experimentation and analytics. I learned that even after your research leads to a better reaction increasing yield, other factors still come into play later. These include environmental factors like the amount of effluents released, economic factors etc. This helped me better understand the economics and business principles behind working in the chemical field. It also exposed me to the sophisticated analytical machinery used in the industry. My intern domain was quite broad, which helped me gain an overview of the entire chemical industry. I got an idea of the R&D operations and the process Economics that work in the chemical industry. Initially, I worked in the R&D department. Since I was curious and also the fact that my supervisor was very accommodating, they allowed me to understand and work with other sectors.
Advice and Suggestions
A person doesn’t need complete clarity about the domain you want to pursue a career while considering a 2nd-year intern. You should apply for anything that piques your interest and feel you can do an excellent job of it. It might seem a huge deal to get an internship, but in the long run, it is a very small thing and a good learning experience. You shouldn’t feel demotivated during this entire process because you often question yourself that I haven't done enough to justify getting a good internship but take it as a learning experience and self-reflection opportunity. In the end, anyone who keeps trying lots up gets an internship irrespective of their CV, branch or other factors that come into play.
Interviewed by - Harsh Swaika