Internship: Research Intern at Biophysical Chemistry and Chemical Biology Laboratory, Madurai Kamaraj University
Interviewer: Sandhiya Ramalaxmi M (GT)
Interviewee: Sameeha (Bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering, Final Year, College of Engineering, Guindy)
GT: Tell us about yourself.
Sameeha: I’m Sameeha and my interest mostly lies in scientific research. I'm passionate and have an interest in Neuro-technologies, Neuroscience, and also Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
GT: Where are you doing your internship?
Sameeha: I'm interning with Kamaraj University Biophysical Chemistry and Chemical Biology Lab. It is a part of a science research fellowship by the Indian Science Academies (IAS-NASI-INSA).
GT: How did you come across this internship?
Sameeha: If I had not been there one day, I would not have been here. I only learnt about this internship through Intern Diaries 3.0 when I interviewed a student doing this internship. I then applied for this internship because of that experience.
GT: Can you brief us about the selection process?
Sameeha: I applied for this in November 2020. It requires you to provide information such as academic details and marks, personal details, the gist of your projects, training, or courses you completed, and extracurricular activities. They also required a write up of 250 words explaining what kindled your interests in that field, and what you would like to learn from this internship. It's rather competitive and only 10% of the applicants get selected.
GT: What attracted you to do this internship in particular?
Sameeha: I do mainly lab work in this internship. There is a list of labs and projects listed on the internship site. Although you are not allowed to choose one yourself, you are allotted a project which cannot be altered. So, when I saw the list of projects on the website like neural science and other things, I wanted to intern there. You can get into IITs, IIMs, and many other places, but it’s not in your hand. Regardless of the uncertainty, I knew I wanted to intern somewhere. So, I thought why not try one of these, when I have a chance to get into any one of them.
GT: What kind of research is done in your laboratory?
Sameeha: There are a lot of PG students doing projects and there are a lot of other ongoing projects as well. I'm working in the chemistry department researching Alzheimer’s disease.
GT: Can you share with us your experience in the lab and the project you are working on?
Sameeha: The project I'm working on is focused on Alzheimer’s, which is a neurodegenerative disorder. Alzheimer’s disease causes brain cells to shrink and die, and unfortunately, the cure for it has not yet been particularly defined therapeutically. I'm working on the structure and analysis part on the software side and also doing some experimental work. I love the work I do here.
GT: Did you learn any topics other than the curriculum to earn this internship?
Sameeha: I’m currently an engineering student but the internship I’m doing is in the chemistry department, which is different from my curriculum. I had to learn a lot of things, read a lot of research papers, and get to know what is being done here. Before working on a project, you must know what was the past, what is current and what will be the future of the work being done. Researching this will make you extremely curious.
GT: What are your takeaways from this internship?
Sameeha: Everyone must do something that makes them stand out from everyone else. This internship has allowed me to understand a little bit about how the world works inside and out and has also taught me some life lessons. Wearing a seatbelt does not guarantee your safety, you must also know how to drive. You are not handed Google Maps and made to follow a certain path, you must choose your own. Although you may be juggling interests, if you find your path and stop procrastinating, you can do anything.
GT: What advice would you give your juniors regarding the internship?
Sameeha: Some students apply for internships and if they do not get it, they feel down and defeated. That shouldn’t be the case. If you do not get what you want, then use that frustration to urge yourself to pursue more opportunities. It might be a stroke of luck, for some people it's because of their hard work, and for others, it is smart work. If you do not get an internship, try something on your own or do a project on a topic that interests you. Be sure to make yourself stand out by doing what you are interested in.
GT: What are the other internship opportunities available for BME students?
Sameeha: Opportunities do not come for us through CUIC as they do for CS or IT students. You’ll have to surf the internet and explore what’s available. I’ll say that there are a lot of opportunities available if you start looking for yourself. Look into internship portals or follow some LinkedIn profiles so that you can apply when they are offering internships. Some universities or labs provide open positions in some of their projects, so you can apply for those as well. It depends on how much effort you put in to find it; these opportunities do not come knocking at your door.
GT: What are your plans for the future?
Sameeha: I have been pondering over this a lot. Since I’m into neuroscience, I thought of pursuing an academic career by doing a Masters in Neuroscience and a PhD after that. But sometimes I feel like I want to get some work experience beforehand and then pursue what I had in mind. Overall, I want to pursue a master’s degree and a PhD regardless of that fact of if I am working or not. I’ve decided to continue to pursue my interests with an MS in Neuroscience and want to be a research scientist in the future, particularly a neural scientist.
GT: What do you think about GT’s Intern Diaries?
Sameeha: This is a remarkable initiative. Like I said earlier - if I had not been there for that interview one day, I would not have known about the existence of this internship. Even for those who are not interested in a particular field, they can get to know what’s happening in the corporate environment. You can also learn about what’s happening inside a company or a laboratory, and what incredible things students can achieve in a short period, as well as how that ties into their futures.
The Guindy Times thanks Sameeha for spending her valuable time with us and wishes her good luck for all her future endeavours.