At a glance
College – Final Year of B.Tech. in Computer Science & Engineering from National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur
Place of work – Christian Albrechts Universitat, Kiel, Germany through the WISE Program
Duration of the internship – 60 days
Stipend – 700-800 Euros per month
Research topic – to develop simulation software to model the cracking in geo-thermal materials based on some new type of theory
InterFeel (IF): Please tell us something about yourself. Where are you studying currently? What are your hobbies and interests?
Akshat Sharma (AS): My name is Akshat Sharma. I am from Solan, Himachal Pradesh. I am currently studying in the Final Year of B.Tech. in Computer Science & Engineering from National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur.
IF: Tell us something about your internship including stipend, duration and place?
AS: First of all, I want to make it clear that there is no such thing that Internship in India is not better than foreign Internship. But, the basic difference lies in the amount of technical exposure you gain when you work in foreign universities. You get to know what all things are taking place in the world and above all, you get to work in some of the most well equipped laboratories in the world.
From the start of my 3rd year B.Tech., it was clear in my mind that I want to do an internship abroad, especially Germany, as it is the LAND OF ENGINEERING. I came to know from my seniors that DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) is an organisation which deals with providing financial assistance for those who want to pursue summer internship in Germany and that for bachelors, they have their WISE (Working Internships in Science & Engineering) Programme. The Process of Application for DAAD-WISE is simple. First of all, you have to get an invitation letter from a German Professor who is working in a Government-operated University in Germany. Almost all the universities in Germany are Government operated.
This is the first and the most critical step in the whole procedure as German Professors remain very busy with their work during the office hours and usually ignore such type of mails. The key to get an invitation letter is that your mail.
The Cover Letter and your Curriculum Vitae should be as attractive as possible.
I would also suggest that apart from professors, keep mailing to the PhD students as well because they are the ones who are directly in contact with the work and usually find some time to check their mails. I got my invitation letter after mailing to a PhD student.
After you have the invitation letter, the next step is to fill the scholarship form and upload it on the DAAD portal along with the necessary documents as mentioned in their website before the deadline (usually 1st November). After this, the results are declared in January or February, after which you have to apply for VISA.
Talking about the stipend, with about 700-800 Euros per month, you can live a very easy and luxurious life in Germany, though it varies from one city to another. After landing in Germany, I had to open a bank account and give the account details to DAAD so that they could send me the money. DAAD gives scholarship on per day basis which is about 21.7 euros per day which amounts to about 650 euros per month. In addition, I also received 525 euros as my flight ticket reimbursement. So, usually, you get about 650*2+525=1825 euros from DAAD for a 60 days (2 months) internship.
I pursued my Summer Research Internship from Christian Albrechts Universitat, Kiel, Germany.
Duration of the internship – 60 days
Stipend – 700-800 Euros per month
IF: How competitive was the selection process? According to you, which qualities have helped you have an edge in the selection process? Also, what were the key things that selectors were looking for?
AS: About 160 students were selected by DAAD in 2016 for their WISE scholarship. The selection process is not very transparent but they mainly focus on only two areas. First (and the most important) is the academic achievements which includes your CGPA, your projects in the concerned field of engineering, any previous research experience, etc. The eligibility criteria says that the student should have a minimum CGPA of 8.5, but I have never heard of someone having CGPA less than 9.2 getting selected for DAAD-WISE. The second thing which they mainly focus on is you “Project Proposal”, which is a two page text in which you mention why do you want to do summer research in the concerned field and also includes a brief description of the work you are going to do in Germany.
IF: Could you please highlight the work/research you carried out during your internship period?
AS: My research project was to develop simulation software to model the cracking in geo-thermal materials based on some new type of theory.
IF: Can you give us interesting details about your experience – good and bad?
AS: The most interesting part of my internship was travelling. In Germany, the work culture is very different from that we have in India. People there work very hard during the weekdays. And in the weekends, they simply party, enjoy and travel with their family. So, after 5 days of extreme hard work, I used to travel a lot during the weekends with my Indian friends who were also doing Internship in Kiel. I traveled to Paris, Berlin, Munich, Strasbourg, Prague and many other places as well and it was definitely the most exciting part of my Internship. One more benefit of DAAD-WISE scholarship is that they organize an informal 3-day meeting in Berlin and invite all the scholarship holders. The best part of the event is that you get to meet different Indian students from different Institutes and the all the living and travelling expenses are covered by DAAD.
IF: How do you think this internship has helped you grow? In other words, what are your key takeaways from the internship?
AS: Doing a summer research Internship from Germany definitely is a plus point from career point of view and made me stand out from the crowd in terms of experience and exposure. And I have noticed this thing during my placement interviews as well. Earlier, I was not aware of the technology and the things that exist in the world outside India. But after the internship, I was able to think outside the box. Carrying out some exciting research work in one of the oldest Universities in Germany (established in 1665) helped me learn new things and work with some of the very fast and powerful machines that exist in the world.
IF: Has this internship had a decision altering impact on your career? Do you now think of a different future path as compared to before doing the internship?
AS: In 3rd year, I was not clear about whether I want to go for higher studies or not. But after my summer Internship, I was clear and determined with the aim that I want to pursue higher studies in Computer Science.
IF: Lastly, do you have any words of advice or caution for students aspiring for this internship and reading this piece?
AS: For students aspiring to get selected for DAAD-WISE, I would suggest that start the mailing procedure as soon as possible (end-August or start-September) and make the mail as attractive as possible. Do not lose hope. I got my invitation letter after having sent 67 mails to different professors. Once you have the invitation letter in your hand, and you are among the best academic students in your college, rest of the process is a cakewalk. ALL THE BEST!!!
We would like to thank Akshat for such an in-depth interview and wish him all the best for his future studies!