DAAD-WISE Dream: Shivang speaks

“Keep in mind that fun is only during weekends. You have to work for the remaining 5 days. So it’s important that you find a project in which you are really interested.”

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Q1. In which course are you presently enrolled? Please tell us something about yourself – your interests and areas of specialization.

I am a final year student of Electrical Engineering at IIT Kharagpur. I hail from Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. I enjoy travelling and exploring new places (one of the foremost reasons for choosing Europe as a destination for my internship). My area of specialisation is Power Electronics.

Q2. Which internship did you opt for? Give us a few details-stipend, duration and location.

I got the DAAD-WISE scholarship for doing an internship at Technical Internship, Munich (TUM) under the research group “Control of Renewable Energy Systems”. The stipend was 650 euros per month, i.e. 21.7 euros per day along with a travel allowance of 525 euros. We also got a compulsory health insurance and an exemption from any VISA fees. My internship was for 70 days. For availing DAAD scholarship, you are required to work for 2-3 months.

Q3. How did you come to know about the internship? Which channels of information (Internet/ Personal/Corporate contacts etc) did you utilize?

I came to know about this scholarship from my seniors. For further details, I looked up the website on the internet.

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Q4. Briefly describe the procedure for application. What are the eligibility criteria for this internship?

Like many other scholarships, DAAD requires the completion of a number of formalities. The application process starts in August and the last date is usually 1st November. The eligibility criteria is a C.G.P.A. of 8.5 or above. First, you need to get an invitation from a German professor stating that he/she is ready to host you for the coming summer. For most of us, this is the most time consuming part and it usually takes around one month or more to get a positive reply. After getting an invitation, you are required to fill out some forms and get one letter of recommendation (in the format provided by DAAD).

Q5. Let’s talk about how competitive the selection process is. What qualities of yours do you think helped you to have an edge in the selection process? What key attributes were the selectors looking for?

The selection process is quite competitive. They primarily look into your academic qualities, i.e. C.G.P.A., research publications & past foreign internships (if any). I was a Department Rank 1 with a C.G.P.A. of 9.52 which helped me in getting this scholarship.

Q6. According to you, what are some common mistakes that you feel applicants should avoid in the internship application process?

The most important factor in getting this scholarship (apart from your C.G.P.A., of course) is to receive the invitation from a German Professor. I would advise all the applicants to prepare a well written cover letter and C.V. Ask your seniors for guidance or look up on the internet for a proper format. The next task is to find Professors whom they are willing to work under. Don’t go for mass mailing just to get an internship in Germany. You might get a topic in which you are not interested. Keep in mind that fun is only during weekends. You have to work for the remaining 5 days. So it’s important that you find a project in which you are really interested. Start sending the mails as early as you can as it might take a lot of time to get a positive reply. Don’t get disheartened at any point of time. Also instead of attaching your academic transcript and C.V., it’s better to upload them on either Google Drive or Dropbox and put up their links in the email. Due to the size of attachments and limit of mails, some of the mails don’t even land up in Professor’s Inbox.

Q7. What kind of groundwork did you do post-selection and before beginning the internship?

I asked my Professor for some materials which would come handy before starting my internship. I went through some of that and it in fact helped me a lot during my work. Since DAAD don’t provide us with accommodation, it’s our responsibility to look for it. If anything is more frustrating than waiting for an invitation from a German Professor, it has to be this. The VISA process was smooth since DAAD takes care of most of the things.

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Q8. Please give us an overview of the work/research project you carried out during the internship period, including its future prospects, and your role and responsibilities.

My project was “Modelling and control of wind turbine system with different generator and converter topologies”. There were 4 members in our team- My professor, 2 PhD scholars and myself. In every wind turbine system, there is an inverter whose role is to convert the D.C. power to A.C. power. My aim was to design and compare various State Vector Pulse Width Modulation (SVPWM) techniques for a two level inverter by considering two major factors – Harmonic Distortion & Switching Losses, and later extend the same for a three level inverter.

Q9. Was this your first internship / training? If not, what do you think was unique about this internship?

Yes this was my first internship.

Q10. What was the best feature of the work ethic of the organization and the internship? What was it that you liked about your workplace?

The work environment was amazing, to be honest. Everyone is so open, helping and supportive. My Professor tried his level best to make me feel comfortable and at home. He used to have long chats with us during lunch. And as they say, Germans like to party hard along with working hard which was quite evident during the evenings and weekends.

Q11. Let’s now talk about some negatives. What were the glitches and problems that came your way, which you think your juniors should be careful to avoid?

As I said earlier, it’s pretty difficult to get a confirmed ‘Yes’ from a German professor and even if you get the scholarship after getting the confirmation, getting accommodation is a very time consuming process. For that I would suggest my juniors to directly contact their professors and ask them to book an apartment on their behalf. Some of them might even be able to get a room inside the campus if available. Apart from this, one more area in which there is an issue is the amount of scholarship money. Believe me if you get the internship in a city like Munich (which happens to be the most expensive in Germany) and are a travel freak, you will have to spend too much out of your own pocket. By the way, if you are lucky, some of the professors do give some extra scholarship on their own to the students.

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Q12. Were there any special events during the internships? (Events can be academics related like field trips, conferences, hackathons, meets etc and also non-academic, relating to your hostel life and the like)

Every year DAAD used to have a meet for all the DAAD-WISE scholars in Berlin for 3 days but unfortunately for us, it did not happen this time due to the restructuring of DAAD. But you can hope to have that meet again from this time onwards. Apart from that, you can join many groups within the city through websites like Meetup.com and Couchsurfing.com and have lots and lots of fun.

Q13. What are your future plans and how much of an impact do you think this internship will have on it?

My future plan is to go for Masters in the field of Renewable Energy. Right now I am preparing for my GRE and TOEFL. I will soon be applying for various colleges in U.S., U.K. and Germany. This internship has helped immensely in cementing my decision and is surely going to give me an edge above many candidates in the selection process.

Q14. Any advice for juniors that can help them in getting internships in future and for deriving the best learning experience out of it?

See first of all you have to understand that getting DAAD is not easy. The C.G.P.A. cut-off can be above 9 and therefore if you have a score below 9, you will require a strong research background to stand a chance of getting this scholarship. But the good news is that DAAD scholarship is not the only way to do an internship in Germany. You can also send mails to professors there and ask them for any sort of financial aid. Believe me most of them have lots of research grants and if you are fortunate enough, you might land up in Germany without any DAAD scholarship as some of the students did this time too. Apart from DAAD, there are a number of other scholarships as well. You might want to check that out on the various websites such as Internshala and Internfeel.

Q15. Any views about this initiative of InternFeel, and how beneficial it would be? Any suggestions/feedback for improvement?

InternFeel’s initiative is an excellent initiative. Having been on the other side last year, I know very well how much help I got from Internfeel by going through many such interviews. Hats off to you guys, continue this awesome work.

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