Lavanya, a final year Chemical Engineering student from ACT, Anna University, has been doing a 2 month Research internship in IITM, Pune (Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune) with prominent PhD scholars, analysing the presence of aero salts in the atmosphere, which are responsible for rainfall. Sounds interesting, right?
Here’s a write up of the interview:
GT: What was the source of information or notification about this research internship?
Lavanya: I surfed and went through a lot of websites searching for research internships. Once, I received a link in one of the WhatsApp groups that I was in, which led me to the website of IISc (Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore), which had put up a notice about Science Research Internships. I chose my subject as Earth Sciences and it led me to the site of IITM, informing about a 2 month research internship with a stipend.
GT: Why did this internship attract you? What made you choose this particular offer?
Lavanya: I had applied to many other internship as well. I was interested in this particular one because it was an internship with stipend of Rs. 10,000 per month. An internship with stipend will definitely boost the value of my Resume.
Also, this internship belonged to a very different field from what I study in college. So I thought I would get a different experience and a lot of exposure, by going to a different place and learning a different subject all together.
GT: What was the procedure to apply for this internship?
Lavanya: I had to fill an application form which was available on their website. I had to compose my Resume, get a Letter of Recommendation from one of my professors, write Statement of Purpose, which is an essay about my intention to attend this internship and submit my certificates which I had. I sent all these put together to the institute’s address. Based on what I sent on October last year, they selected my application and I received a call letter in the month of April.
I did not write NTAT and the scores were not necessary for this internship.
GT: Please give us a brief description of your research.
Lavanya: The subject of the research that we are working on is “Source analysis of atmospheric aero salts”. The aero salts are minute salt particles that are present in the atmosphere. We are studying how the influence and the amount of these particles affect the rainfall in that area.
GT: What is the challenge that you are facing during this research?
Lavanya: We, as undergrad students, study a lot of subjects in a brief period; thereby we don’t get to study deeply about them. Being new to this subject, I did not know much about aero salts. So I had very less amount of time to learn about it in depth, and I had to do a research based on that. So my challenge was to learn a subject in depth within a short period of time.
GT: Sometimes you may get bored, lack interest or lose track of events during the research period. How do you think we can tackle it?
Lavanya: Research is an exploration of events during a process. That’s the idea of a research; you don’t get the results immediately, you have to wait patiently and work hard for it. The boredom and losing of interest are common things that every scientist faces. I didn’t face any of these, since I felt I had so much to do and contribute. I feel that we must always remind ourselves about our intention of attending the internship and keep pushing ourselves.
Determination and hard work are the only two keys that will help you tackle these problems.
GT: Did you ever regret about the fact that you hadn’t revised the subjects that you had studied in three years in college?
Lavanya: My personal advice to everyone is that brushing up subjects one day before attending internships is of no use; in the end, you would end up remembering nothing and it would be an utter waste of time. We have learnt all our subjects in a course of time that will help us remembering them. So there is nothing to worry about. Also, the field that we are going to be researching or working upon is going to be unique from what we have learnt, so we have to go there and work hard to learn about it. Going to these internships with interest, determination and a mindset to work hard will always help us to learn better.
GT: How did you arrange for the accommodation there?
Lavanya: My call letter had the details about whom I should contact for the accommodation and under whose guidance I am going to be working. I contacted them and they had arranged to provide a room in the PhD residence of the institute itself. I am so thankful to them because I got a room for myself, with good facilities and security. Food is also amazing, and if you can’t adjust to their way of cooking, you are free to cook for yourself. I am not feeling home sick because of the freedom and the facilities I am provided with.
GT: Would you recommend this internship for anyone?
Lavanya: I will definitely recommend this type of internship for my juniors or anyone. These internships provide you with wonderful experiences and exposure. For people who have keen interest to do further studies and go into the research background, I would surely suggest this internship to them. But for people who are going to be working after their undergrad and go into the industrial field, I don’t think they have to attend this internship. It would be better if they attend internships in reputed institutions.
I would like to thank Lavanya, on behalf of The Guindy Times and myself, for sharing her wonderful experience and enlightening us with her answers and ideas.