Bachelors in Biotechnology, Final year, Alagappa College of Technology
She has interned at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) and here is an excerpt from the interview.
Interviewer: Ajith Kumar Panja (GT)
Interviewee: Shreyaa Senthilkumar
GT: Please do tell us about yourself before we proceed with the interview.
Shreyaa: Yeah Of course. I’m currently in my final year, Industrial bio-technology (ACTech). Also, I’m a part of Guindy Times as well, and so honoured to be interviewed.
GT: So we heard you’re pretty much a veteran with internships, please do share your past experiences.
Shreyaa: I did about two internships in my second year, one at the SPIC Bio-Process lab, where I worked on Trichoderma viride for Bio-Ethanol Production, and the other at IIT, Madras where I worked on Tissue Engineering.
GT: As I mentioned earlier, you had been interning at places which are nothing less of a dream for many in this stream. But what made you choose National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) for your research this time?
Shreyaa: Internships in NCBS are also coveted much by candidates in this stream and availing oneself a chance to even associate with them, is an honour in itself. It was on the top of my list when I began scrutinizing my options and I’m really grateful that I got in.
GT: What according to you is the best time to apply for an internship?
Shreyaa: The right time to look and apply for internships would be, at least a semester in advance. Applying a month or two before could fetch you some random internship but it might not provide you with your best interests. NCBS, for example, doesn’t have any formal application process, so you’d directly mail your Resumé and a SOP to the Professor in charge.
GT: What was the selection criteria like? And how high was the competition?
Shreyaa: Your resumé should be ‘eye-catching’ and your SOP should be to the point rather than beating around the bush. In my case, my department professor, Mr. Gautham helped me with NCBS. With regard to competition, almost every biotech student in the country would be in line for the job. So competition was, needless to say, pretty intense.
GT: Can you give us an intel briefing about your research at NCBS?
Shreyaa: I worked on something called, Homology Modelling, i.e. the comparative modelling of proteins. which is all about trying to construct the models/structures of unknown proteins based on the structures of known proteins.
GT: Was your domain of research in connection with the curriculum or were there any prerequisites?
Shreyaa: The domain of my research was the curriculum of our 7th semester, so I did have to do a bit of research before starting my internship. I also obtained help at NCBS, where they trained me during my first week, but starting from week two I was on my own.
GT: Research is considered a tedious process that takes time to yield results, often making researchers lose the enthusiasm they initially started out with. What is your take on this?
Shreyaa: There’s no point starting a research, expecting to yield results within a week or a month. Every researcher ever, entering the field of research carries with them the prospect of facing failures & setbacks. One must be patient, whether it is to deal with prospective answers or the questions that intrigue you to research even more. It comes with the field.
GT: What would you consider a key takeaway that distinguishes this internship from others? And what do you have mapped out next, following this internship?
Shreyaa: In my previous internships, my guide would usually tell me what is to be done each and every day. But in NCBS, my professor would give me a question and ask me to find answers for it. Since then, I spent every minute of my time searching for the answers, which in turn linked me to various other topics and new information. Slowly I learnt to put in more effort into my research, simultaneously cultivating interest in my subject. It was indeed a very good learning experience.
I believe in living life one step at a time. So, I’d like to travel with flow and see where life takes me.
GT: Would you recommend this internship to your Juniors?
Shreyaa: Yeah, I would definitely recommend it. If they get an internship at NCBS, I’d advise them to take it under any kind of circumstances. And it’s not just because an internship at NCBS is a feather in your cap, but it’s also because the staff at NCBS let you experience researcher life, for real.
GT: Any comments on the Intern Diaries Series?
Shreyaa: It’s actually a pretty good idea, since most juniors look to google for intel regarding internships. It’s so much better to have our college students take this initiative. Now they’d know the first place to look for internships is the Guindy Times.
We wish Shreyaa Senthilkumar and our readers all the very best for their future endeavours!