An Intern Talk, conducted by the Office of International Relations, NITT, happened on 3rd Sept’19, at the EEE auditorium. The next day, an interactive session to introduce the Young India Fellowship (YIF) was conducted at A11. The following are the reports of the two events.
Research Intern Talk:
An Intern talk was organised by the Office of International Relations, NIT Trichy on 3rd September, 2019. Scholars of various esteemed scholarships such as MITACS, DAAD, SN BOSE etc. spoke about their research experiences all around the world. They covered every topic from the application process, the key to an impressive SOP to the fun activities they did during their internship. The event was presided over by Dr. Ezhilarasi, Associate Dean of the Office of International Relations.
MITACS is a nonprofit national research organisation that partners with Canadian academia to foster International research networks between Canadian universities and the world.
A number of Mitacs scholars spoke about their experiences in various institutes in Canada where they pursued their internships in the summer of 2019. The minimum requirement for the first stage of the application process is a CGPA of 8+ and two or more letters of recommendation (LOR) said Akshay Krishnamurthy, a MITACS scholar and fourth year MME student. He also talked about the 2500+ projects that students can choose from depending on their area of interest. A maximum of 7 projects can be selected by each student and ranked in their order of preference, he said. Srikkanth, a MITACS scholar from the ECE department said it’s very important to be strong on your area of interest, since you might not always be paired with your preferred project and so you will have to convince them why you want it so badly. Having done an internship in the field of mathematics, he said it is advantageous to have some research experience before applying to have an increased chance of getting paired with the professor and project of your choice.
Debjyoti, a final year EEE student who pursued his MITACS internship from the University of Waterloo spoke about the importance of the two essays that have to be submitted as a part of the application. He said it was very important to choose the right words to convince them in the limited words allotted. Aaryan Shah, another scholar from the EEE department also stressed on the essays. He said it was very important to be versatile and to make sure your essay stands out among the thousands of applications from all over the world. Further, all the scholars talked about every applicant’s doubt, whether to prefer projects or universities. Most of them advised to give more importance to projects since a very good project will play a big role in future internships and scholarships in Canada, even through MITACS itself. Ashritha Kedarisetti, a fourth year Civil student who cleared both MITACS and DAAD chose the former since she preferred the project there. In her talk, she mentioned how not to go about the application process and where she could have done better. She said it was very important to be qualitative and not repeat any points in the essays. She also said that she was quite lucky since she got to do two projects which is a rare opportunity.
Coming to the fun stuff, all the scholars had quite a lot of experiences to share. From multiple visits to Niagara Falls to Salsa workshops to attending a Shawn Mendes concert, it wasn’t all work and no play for them! Srikkanth and Aaryan praised the work culture in Canada, how they worked for a fixed 8 hours a day and dedicated the rest of the day for themselves. Overall, the scholars said their MITACS internship was a great learning experience and unbelievably fun at the same time.
DAAD and SN BOSE:
DAAD is a fully funded internship opportunity for German universities. Every year, similar to MITACS, a number of NITians apply for this, but comparatively fewer students clear the application process and get an opportunity to research at prestigious universities in Germany.
Vishaal Gopinath, a fourth year ICE student was one of the very few to get the DAAD scholarship this year. Though the prerequisite to apply is a CGPA of 8.5+, Vishaal admitted that, to have a solid chance of getting the scholarship, you need to have CGPA of 9.5 or above. The application for the DAAD scholarship is quite different from MITACS in the sense that DAAD first required you to look for a professor you want to do a project with, mail him/her and get an acceptance. Only then, are you allowed to apply for the scholarship itself, he said. Since German universities don’t have very established and updated websites, Vishaal said the application itself requires a lot of research to be done. A keen interest in your research topic is a must when it comes to DAAD scholarships, he added. Having cleared DAAD and MITACS, Ashritha’s advice was to be very careful regarding every deadline and to be aware of each step of the application process to avoid losing opportunities after putting in a huge amount of work.
Vishaal also spoke about the SN BOSE Scholars Program, which is a partnership between the Government of India and the U.S. to develop a dynamic and transformative student exchange program between premier institutions in both countries. Though there were no SN BOSE scholars in the talk, Vishaal who came very close to getting the scholarship spoke about the application process. He said that this scholarship is only applicable for the top two students in every department. The process is similar to DAAD, he added, except that it did not require you to pair yourself with a professor before applying. However, doing so will give an added advantage, he said.
MITACS, DAAD, SN BOSE etc. are however, not the only means to intern in foreign countries. A large number of students simply apply to the university of their choice to research in a project of their choice. Chockalingam from ICE department did one such internship at NUS, Singapore. According to him, the most important thing is to start early. He started looking at Universities in Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and Singapore for research opportunities from the month of September last year. He said that the application process varies depending on the university, but the basic requirements were similar to most scholarships. One important thing is to avoid talking to professors about funding until the later stages of the application since it might lead to some hesitation on their part. He described his experience as an extremely unique one since he got the opportunity to stay with the professor himself for the whole period of the internship.
Arun Kumar, a final year MME student also did a similar internship in France. Since he missed the DAAD scholarship by an inch due to the CGPA requirements, he did not lose nerve and took this opportunity to research on his own. His main advice was to never lose hope, since anything can happen until the last minute.
Shivani Chander, a fourth year CSE, talked about Cargill Global Scholars, Women TechMakers and Western Digital Scholarship. She started off with Cargill Global Scholarship, which opens for second years. The criteria of the scholarship include writing two essays and submitting Letter of Recommendation. Ten scholars are selected from each country and are awarded 5000USD over the course of two years. Apart from that, they receive mentorship for two years which would help them shape their career. She moved on to talk about Women TechMakers by Google, a scholarship exclusively for women in tech field. This prestigious scholarship includes a hefty amount and retreats in Google offices. Like Cargill Global Scholars Program, applicants must submit a resume and transcripts. A sound technical project would earn you brownie points. She mentioned that even though some applicants may not reach the final round, Google makes note of worthy candidates and may later offer other opportunities. Lastly, she briefed the audience about Western Digital Scholarship. Any undergraduate student studying in STEM related field is eligible to apply. This program will award up to 400, one-time scholarships per year. The maximum total award per recipient is $5,000 USD.
Every scholar who spoke had an inspirational journey to share and it gave the audience a personal view of each scholarship, which will tremendously help in deciding what is perfect for them.
The Young India Fellowship(YIF) is a 1-year Postgraduate Diploma in Liberal Arts offered by Ashoka University. What is liberal arts? As put aptly by ex-YIF fellow, Ms. Shahambare, who was here for the briefing: Liberal Arts is a pedagogy; a course framework of 24 subjects. These subjects include economics, law, literature, game theory, visual arts, sociology & leadership, to name a few. These courses are covered in 6 week-long terms over one year, which begins around July.
Diverse peer groups and an Experiential Learning Module (ELM) seem to be YIF’s key focus points during the diploma. Each class has approximately 250 fellows, all of them hand-picked from every nook and corner of the country’s geographical and economic strata. At any given time during the term, a fellow is part of at least three other teams, facilitating discussions in a collaborative environment. The ELM is an internship/project which gives a chance for a fellow to do a project in a field of their interest, funded and mentored by the university. The fellowship promises a network with 2000+ alumni, guest faculty from top universities across the world, and mentorship by industry professionals.
Post fellowship, students, especially from an engineering background, digress into various professions, ranging from business to filmography to social service. Placements at the university boast an average package of 11-19 L.p.a in consultancy, education and general management profiles. The option of pursuing higher studies in any of the affiliated universities like HEC Paris, Yale, Penn, Berkeley also is chosen often. A few of them even go back to engineering streams, with an all-round personality.
The YIF provides a unique mix of courses which helps the fellows look at society through various lenses and perspectives. Although Ashoka University is not the only university which specializes in Liberal arts, the YIF is the only 1-year PG diploma of its type, giving it a niche. It is, however, up to the student to decide if they’re willing to take up such a multi-disciplinary course at the cost of 9 lakhs for the year (scholarships and financial aid excluded).
The YIF is often quoted as a journey of self-discovery and reflection, through the perspectives you gain at the university, making it synonymous to an abode for lost souls to discover their identity. Nonetheless, technology might help you build the next-big-thing. Learning the arts, however, can give you insights into the past and show you the path to use the next-big-thing effectively, to usher in the future.