Rishwanth Darun is currently pursuing his last year of B.E. Civil Engineering in CEG and has done internships at IITM, IITB and DAAD Germany. He is one such student who can always be looked up to by all engineers as he exhibits great enthusiasm to enhance his knowledge by learning things and is always ready to share his knowledge & resources with others as well. It was indeed a pleasure to have interviewed him and here is the write-up of it.
Interviewer- Ishwrya Achuthan Geetha (GT)
Interviewee- Rishwanth Darun AS (RD)
GT: When is the best time to start applying for internships?
RD: I would say at the beginning of the 5th semester. By then you must be familiar with internship opportunities in India as well as abroad. Plenty of opportunities are available both, in our country and outside too. It is just that we should take steps to become aware of it.
GT: How did you search for internships and decide which field to intern in?
RD: I relied mostly on my seniors and the internet. I surfed the net for various internship opportunities abroad and in our country. In the civil department, there are 6 divisions - hydraulics, structural, geotechnical, transportation and urban planning, environmental and remote sensing. So, I chose hydraulics, structural and geotechnical. If you are applying abroad, you will have to shortlist three fields of interest and can proceed with any one broad area. In India, there is no provision to choose your field of interest.
GT: Are websites like internshala useful in getting opportunities for internships?
RD: In order to get to know the companies providing internships, such websites could be useful, but they are not enough. Most importantly, I would tell others not to go for a marketing internship that asks one to pay for it. Basically, these are to promote their companies and they don't teach marketing either. Instead students can go for a civil engineering site work and learn from there.
GT: What are the various internships available and what is the procedure to be followed?
RD: The application procedure for every internship is different. If it is DAAD, then it is purely based on the effort you put into your application. Once you upload, your application booklet is nearly 50-70 pages. If it's CHARPAK (France), it's all about getting an approval from the professor that you want to work with. For SN BOSE (US) only 50% of all applicants were across all the branches throughout India. In MITACS (Canada), there will be 4 levels in the selection process.
In India, Indian Academy of Science (IAS) provides IASSRPF (Indian Academy of Science Summer Research fellowship program) for second-year and third-year students. Various IITs are also providing internship programs for third-year students. IITB (Bombay) has a separate internship program for fourth-year students, which lasts for six months. That is a full research project; they'll be allotting you a separate project, more like a summer exchange programme. Next is INAE (Indian National Academy of Engineers). They also offer scholarships for an internship. You need to apply through a professor in any central government institute and they should approve you. You can apply to INAE and get scholarships for your internships. Keep checking IITs’ and IISCs' websites regularly for updates. These are some internships that I looked for.
GT: Is there any minimum CGPA requirement for internships abroad and in our country?
RD: In IAS (Indian Academy of Science) internship, there is no minimum requirement. But I suggest people with CGPA above 8 to definitely apply. In general, you stand a better chance if you have a CGPA above 8.5 or 9. In DAAD, the minimum requirement is 8.5. In India, they select people with CGPA around 7.5 too.
GT: Are LORs a must for applying for internships within India and abroad as well?
RD: Getting a Letter of Recommendation is very important. I would recommend students to be in good terms with the faculty as they will need them for getting LOR. Talk to them frequently and maintain a good rapport. DAAD needed 1 LOR, SN BOSE needed 2 LORs and if it's in India, mostly likely 1 LOR would do.
GT: What is the procedure for the application of visa?
RD: Once you get selected, you will definitely get a visa. These abroad internships are government-funded and so the procedure won't be that complex. But make sure you have a passport.
GT: What do you think that these institutions look for, in a resume?
RD: In India, first comes CGPA and then comes LORs and resume. But, abroad, it's LORs, resume and then CGPA. Then, the college's reputation matters to some extent. Extracurricular activities play a major role. We need to know 'how to project ourselves'. Be it a paper presentation in a symposium or a competition in Kurukshetra or Agni, or even an industrial visit that you had been to, try to include it in your resume. But have a valid reason for why you have included it.
GT: What was the most challenging part of the interview?
RD: In India, mostly interviews are not conducted. In DAAD, the deadline is 1st November ever year, so before that you need to be ready with the no objection certificate and the necessary formal documents. You also need to get an approval from the professor. The interview can be in the form of mail. First, you need to mention your area of interest and why you have chosen it. An interview is the easiest part of application procedure.
GT: What about the accommodation? Which was the most challenging part of the internship?
RD: In DAAD, they will give a stipend for accommodation and food. But it's a difficult job to find a place. Contact any senior who had been there or even me if anyone has any issues. I found adapting myself to their culture to be challenging. Germans are very punctual, helpful and are too straightforward. Sometimes it hurts but you'll feel good after one or two weeks.
GT: Did you find yourself in a situation where you didn't know certain concepts? Did you ever feel insecure about it and wished you learnt it beforehand?
RD: Yes, that's definitely true. Since we are in UG, we must've not learnt everything. So, feel free to ask them. They won't embarrass you. Germans by nature are very helpful and will teach you in very simple terms.
GT: Is there anything else that you would like to share with us, regarding the internship?
RD: Getting an acceptance from a German professor is a bit tough as far as DAAD is concerned. One hack I would like to share while you move through your professor is to give them an introduction about yourself. When you send a mail, put your professor in cc, so that the German professor will be ready to accept you. Most of them apply for 30-40 professors and they don't understand this. Luckily, I had applied for just one. Even if they don't accept you, they will, at least, open the mail. The interesting thing is that I was given a Schengen visa since I was in Germany. It allows one to visit many countries. I felt they had an advanced laboratory and cool professors. It was indeed a great experience.
GT: How long were the internships at all the 3 places?
RD: My intern at IITM was related to construction materials lab and it lasted for around 4-5 weeks. My IITB internship was related to mathematical modeling using MATLAB which lasted for around 6-7 weeks in during summer ‘17. This year, I went to IWW- Institute of hydraulic engineering and water resources management, RWTH Aachen University, Germany through DAAD for 2 months.
GT: What do think about the ‘Intern Diaries’ by the Guindy Times?
RD: Many of my classmates have attended internships at various IITs and we are ready to share our knowledge to help our juniors. It is a very good platform for the juniors to know their seniors' internship experiences. Thank you.
The Guindy Times wishes Rishwanth Darun the very best for all his future endeavours.