What are foreign (research) internships and how do you get one?

Article by Kush Tripathi

Question: What are foreign (research) internships, and how do you get one?

1. I wanted to know what exactly a foreign internship is (in a university) ?
2. What are you expected to do (during the internship)? Are you capable of doing that at the end of your second year?
3. What exactly does the university offer? (housing, visa requirements, finances etc.)
4. How do you get one? Do you just randomly mail to professors, and expect a positive reply?
5. How much benefit does it provide? ( for e.g. resume, personality, knowledge)

Lets go Step by Step

What are foreign(research) internships, and how do you get one?
Foreign research internship is, in a layman’s terms, “Trailer of a Big Movie called Research Abroad”
Students of all the institutes want to do it but in mostly students from IITs, NITs and top engineering colleges are able to get into it.

What are you expected to do (during the internship)? Are you capable of doing that at the end of your second year?
In research internship you won’t be asked to carry out some ground breaking research as is popularly believed by many students who feel that these internships provide.
You are expected to finish the task assigned to you. That task will be assigned to you depending upon your capabilities and accomplishments till date. You wont be given a work which is outside the bounds of your capabilities.

There are two types:-

Work assigned by professor
You would be told to do a small part of Master’s or Ph.D work. Supposedly if there are 4-5 applications of the Master’s thesis then you would be asked to work on that application given all the technology and research exposure. This is one type of internship in which professor assigns you the job, this happens in 90% of the cases.

Work taken up by you
Suppose if you have something in mind which aligns with the research interest(s) of the professor then you would be asked to do the same if it is feasible during that period of time.

Please don’t be worried, you need to learn in this research internship and you won’t be scrutinized much.

How do you get one? Do you just randomly mail to professors, and expect a positive reply?

This is a really important question, how does one get a research internship abroad and is it right to just randomly mail a professor. You can apply through DAAD, MITACS, SURF and many more such official internships you get to know about easily on google or in as mentioned in other answers.

Now I’d like to ask you how one should do it if one is not doing it through any program?
Step by step

Approach the international relation cell of your institute, most of the IIT’s have that. After that you can ask for opportunities available in different universities through them. If there are, then apply through them, most of the times these opportunities are forwarded to students via group emails.

If there aren’t any (that is either there is no international relation cell of your college or their are no known opportunities with them) then go to second step
Contact your Alumni relation cell in order to inquire about the various alumni who have been studying abroad or are faculties abroad, you will get a list at times, if not then go to third step.

Contact your seniors, hostel seniors, their super seniors to get the contacts of people who are doing their research abroad, if yes then good. If you can’t find anybody move to next step
Now you have to find the people related to your areas of interests especially professors. Go to professors in your department and ask them if they have any tie ups with professors in the universities abroad. If yes then good, if no then you should ask them about who can help you regarding the same. If they suggest to contact any of the people mentioned above then tell them you have already done all that and you didn’t find anything. Then they will suggest you some other persons regarding that. Go and meet those persons.
In the worst of cases you would be able to find at least one person from the above four points and that you could use as a point of contact while applying for positions abroad.
Next, if you are not able to get any replies, then visit science direct and start filtering the best labs for your field abroad. Once you have made a list of them, start studying their research pages, do research of atleast one day before mailing a professor. Mail him like following
Sir
Subject should be really clear: Student seeking research internship in your lab, Your university, place
First give your introduction and affiliation
second tell what you want to do, it should be aligned to his interest areas
Third show the reason why you want to do it
4th Please let me know if something is there
Once you have done this don’t dare send the same email to all the professors. Don’t spam them. Personalize your each email to every new professor you are sending your application to.
What exactly does the university offer? (housing, visa requirements, finances etc.)

This purely depends on the place and program through which you get in. Some internship programs help you get full funding except VISA. For some you need to pay.
But if one is from an IIT, they generally get fully funded internships.

How much benefit does it provide? ( for e.g. resume, personality, knowledge)

Benefits of research internship abroad
RESUME : Your resume gets a boost, your internship column is felicitated with the name of your foreign research guide and university, it helps during placement as well as when you are applying for MS abroad in your area of interest.
Personality : When you go abroad you get to meet different people and you get a lot of exposure in meeting people from different genres, countries, religions. You live on your own. There are great things you learn about yourself as a person.
Knowledge : You travel, you learn, you go miles away all on your own. All this adds up to your knowledge database.

Answer originally published here

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