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Continuing the insightful interview of Anurag from Mumbai, here’s the fifth in the series of six internships of Anurag at Florida Institute of Technology, USA.
Anurag completed an Integrated 5 Year Dual Degree Program (Bachelors & Masters’ Dual Degree) from Indian Institute of Technology (BHU), Varanasi in Mechanical Engineering. He is currently working with Eaton Corporation where he started working from August this year.
After getting varied internship experience domestically, in his own words “They (the domestic internships) were somewhat saturating and monotonous, mostly because I would work all day and return home to a cloistered environment surrounded by family members. The element of adventure was somehow missing since all the previously mentioned internships were located in Mumbai a.k.a. the Maximum City.” He further added, “The next phase of my undergrad life turned out to be far more enthralling than I could have ever asked for.”
Read on to get some important useful advice to all the future aspirants provided by Anurag.
With friends at Cocoa beach near FIT
InternFeel (IF): Tell us something about your internship including stipend, duration and place?
Anurag Roy (AR): I was so enthralled by the internship experience at University of North Texas that I decided to undertake another research internship the following summer and (all hail the Lord) I was selected for another funded one at Florida Institute of Technology (FIT). Here, I was expected to ensure sound material characterization of aerospace alloys post plasma-spraying.
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?
AR: It is my understanding that internships (or rather, the shot to quench one’s thirst with a foreign trip) bring out either the competitive best or worst in people. Fortunately for me, it brought out the former.
The selectors closely look for former research endeavours, the groups you have been associated with (i.e. the professors/scientists you have worked with till date and their contributions to science), quality of research (best judged by journal or conference publications) and a knack for higher education (in the form of grad school aspirations).
For the Florida Tech selection process where, the ex-NASA scientist who recruited me was eagerly looking forward to a short-term scholar with a specialized skill-set in material processing and characterization and strongly mentored me with her unparalleled research experiences and vast academic knowledge. My skill sets from my previous internships came handy.
IF: Could you please highlight the work/research you carried out during your internship period?
AR: So captivated I was with this rewarding laser-material interaction topic at University of Texas that I decided to go for another internship in this very field and as destiny had it, I came across the profile of an ex-NASA scientist who also happens to be the Director of an excellence centre at Florida Institute of Technology. She is perhaps the most generous, kind-hearted, experienced guide I have ever had the chance to learn from. Her excellence centre offered jaw-dropping machinery viz. robotic plasma spraying, selective laser melting, fancy microscopes, surface roughness measurement devices etc. To be precise, my project was on ‘Material Characterization and Surface Morphology of Plasma-Sprayed Thermal Barrier Coatings’ which has tremendous potential for future aerospace applications.
IF: Can you give us interesting details about your experience – good and bad?
AR: My second visit to the States was in Melbourne, Florida, which was a whole different ball game. That summer, I was introduced to a nice group of academically brilliant undergrads all thanks to a casual conversation I struck with one of their group members from Columbia University, NY. They were residing in the same building as mine and were also interns at the same institute. Being an integral part of this adventurous group meant sojourns to Disney, Orlando (Medieval Times was the jewel in the crown), Miami and a plethora of sea beaches that dot the Floridian landscape – Satellite Beach, Cocoa Beach (and a pitstop at Ron Johns too), Paradise Beach and we witnessed the launch of Spacex’s Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral too. In addition, I met a lot of well-settled alumni from IIT-BHU. These people were literally “living the American Dream”, which I could gather from their lifestyle, luxurious homes, high-end cars, yet all of them were kind enough to invite me to their palatial homes for a scrumptious meal. Speaking of food, I think it is noteworthy to mention here that Florida Tech houses this awesome dining place called Panther Dining Hall (commonly referred to as PDH in college lingo) which serves mouth-watering dishes three times a day and I met some really affectionate people there. Hats off PDH!!!!
IF: Lastly, do you have any words of advice or caution for students aspiring for this internship and reading this piece?
AR: Those of you who haven’t already marshalled some sort of internship-hunting exercise, kindly start doing so on a priority basis. To kick-start the process, compose a well-articulated cover letter, tweak your resume, request profs/internship supervisors for strongly worded Letters of Recommendation (LOR). Certain internship programs also demand a Statement of Purpose/ Research Intent/ Motivation Letter, all of which primarily require you to justify what all you have done so far, what you wish to achieve through the internship and why you chose this particular institute instead of others, whereby you are expected to bring forth the strategic alignment expressing how this internship would pave the way for your forthcoming grad school years, your future endeavours in this direction etc. The next step is to find the right professor/faculty. Open up university websites, dig deeper, find out professors, match his expertise with your profile and projects undertaken thus far and only then, apply for an internship. Email them with your nicely drafted cover letter, attach your resume, LOR (if any) and mention your references, etc. Wait for a fortnight, if there is no response, put a gentle reminder. Don’t go about spamming a gazillion inboxes unnecessarily Follow the standard procedure instead of stooping to these frantic efforts, things should work out in your favour and before you know it, you will be beholding the much-awaited acceptance letter. Good luck to all aspirants and happy internship-hunting!