Vishantan Kumar, BB1
Interned at: National University of Singapore
I applied for both SURA and a research internship. My SURA project was on Developing Genome Engineering tools for Gordonia. Our SURA project couldn't get approved because the labs were not functioning, and ours was a completely lab-based project. I am still working on that project but not under the purview of SURA. I started mailing again and got two offers from National University of Singapore. One of them was on image analysis of Zebrafish embryos, while the other was on Metabolomic processes. Both of them are still ongoing.
There is usually not any stipend in online mode. Generally, there is a stipend in offline mode and is partially/fully-funded otherwise by the professors or through scholarship programs.
For SURA, I mailed the professors. It usually takes place in groups of two. SURA is cross-disciplinary; hence, you can mail any professor expressing your interest. After getting the project, there is a project proposal presentation in a month or two, and then you get provisionally shortlisted. After 5-6 months, you have to show the board your work and if they feel they award you the SURA. CV is not a requirement for the SURA project. For institutions abroad, one can bluff a lot of things and include course projects, such a thing can't be done here.
For the research internship, the correct time to start mailing is as soon as possible. Getting one is very much based on chance, so the best way to get one is to mail more and mail early. Professors understand enough that no one has much experience in the second year and wants to explore. As for the cover letter, visit the professor's webpage once to get a brief idea about his work. Be honest and sincere about what you have done, more important is to convince the professor that you are interested in working. Computational experience is also quite useful, it doesn't take a lot of time to learn these things. You should also convey to the professor that you are comfortable working online/offline.
SURA Vs. Foreign Intern-
If the foreign intern is happening offline, then definitely go for it. If online, take SURA along with the remote internship as well. It is easier to manage remote internships.
Experience & Takeaways-
I didn't get the opportunity to go abroad to work, but I did get the chance to work in labs for our project after onboarding. Working online is a bit tough as most interactions are through emails and Zoom. Working in actual labs is much better as you can collaborate and discuss with many masters and Ph.D. students. I personally got to learn many new things that I wouldn't have learnt from my course projects. It helped me narrow down my areas of interest. Another benefit is getting LoRs for 3rd-year internships or asking the same professors for another project. I made a lot of wonderful connections. I suggest that you remain patient and keep mailing, don't get demotivated- "you will miss 100% of the shots you don't take".
Interviewed by: Adhiraj