Yale University – Mukund Poddar, BB1
I was targeting top universities (mostly in the US) early on. I started emailing professors around the first week of September. I tried to send around 10 to 15 emails per day and given that I finally got accepted at the end of March, I had done some hefty amount of emailing! I had two ongoing biotechnology projects on my resume along with one on product development and some 1st-year projects. The projects I was pursuing had no direct correlation with the work my professor had undertaken. In my experience, professors are typically concerned with your scholastics and research interests when they select. My selection was tied to the fact that I was able to understand his research papers in a short span of time and provide some quick-witted replies in my interview.
Luck! I cannot stress how much this matters when you’re applying for an internship. Although the hard work put into projects is a big factor, you’ll definitely need to have a targeted mailing strategy. I was pretty dejected while receiving negative responses from professors and scholarship programs and by mid-January, had almost given up all hope of getting an internship at the ivies, but it is important to not lose hope and keep trying.
I was working on an independent project. It concerned the imaging of various objects using an electron microscope. There was a significant amount of machine learning and extrapolation of results involved and I learned a lot of new things.
I initially had some reservations regarding prejudice against Asians, however, these were short-lived. I was heartily welcomed in the lab and made a lot of friends. My professor frequently took me out for dinner and was always open to guide me at any point in time. I was also never pressurized to complete any work in any given time frame. I chose what to do at whatever pace I wanted to. I really did not have any restrictions.
Life @ Yale:
I lived about 30 minutes away from the campus and used to take a shuttle to work every day. Finding vegetarian food (I’m vegetarian) was not very difficult and I usually had lunch from the clusters of food carts around the huge campus.
For the first week, I lived and worked alone, but I later met 6 – 7 other Indian students, some from BITS and some from IIT BHU. We visited New York, Rhode Island, and numerous other places. The highlight of the entire trip, however, was a visit to Universal Studios, for sure. There’s also a beach nearby the campus and this served as a frequent hangout spot.
This was the first time I travelled out of the country and it was the most beautiful and exciting time I have ever had. In retrospect, working to complete my project and in the process repaying the investment my supervisor had made, was a really positive feeling.
Interviewed By: Maria Sandalwala