Internship Experience of Nidhi Pant at OIST, Japan

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InternFeel ID: IF15017

Nidhi Pant

IF: Hello Nidhi, pleasure to meet you. Please tell us about yourself. What makes you different?

Nidhi: Hi, I am Nidhi Pant, Final year Undergraduate student at Institute Of Chemical Technology, formerly UDCT. I like to be where things are changing, growing and developing.

IF: Which internship you got the chance to take? What is it all about? Stipend, duration and place?

Nidhi: Okinawa Prefecture is the southernmost prefecture of Japan. Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology is an interdisciplinary graduate school offering program in Science. Over half of the faculty and students are recruited from outside Japan, and all education and research is conducted entirely in English. The duration of my Internship was 2 months.OIST provided accommodation( in university campus ), round trip travel expense along-with a daily stipend of 2400 JPY.

[su_box title=”Details”]For more details on this internship and to apply, visit internship page on OIST website OIST Research Internship [/su_box]

IF: How you came to know about the internship? To what all sources you kept yourself connected?

Facebook. I keep a track of all the online available intern related blogs, websites, facebook pages like Internfeel, Internshala, EduInfo, Internlelo etc. to name a few.

IF:Tell us on the procedure to apply for the internship. Who all are eligible to apply for this internship?

Nidhi: Its relatively a new program and has a very simple application procedure of filling the internship form with basic details and submitting your resume along with the SOP. You also need a recommendation letter to apply for the internship. Both Undergraduate as well graduate students are eligible to apply. OIST is very different from other universities as they don’t have departments like electrical, mechanical, chemical but have individual professor Units carrying out research in a particular field. So finding a professor who is working in your area of interest is a challenge.

IF: Let’s talk about how competitive is the selection process.

What qualities of yours, you believe helped you in having an edge over the selection process? What key things you feel were looked for by the selectors?

Nidhi: I had a very strong recommendation from my professor at TU Berlin, where I worked as a summer intern in 2013. The selectors look if the Units have anything opportunity which is similar to your background and how you can add value with your research to the Unit. So everything from your CGPA-projects to SOP-LOR counts.

IF: About when you got the news for the selection? How was the celebration?

Nidhi: I applied in November and received an acceptance in Late December which was very early as many of the universities have their application deadline in February let alone the acceptance note. It was the New Years’ time and this news just added to the celebration.

IF: What all preparations you did after the results in view of the internship?

Nidhi: I spent hours on Internet searching for places to visit in Japan and also read about the culture, history and characteristics of the Japanese people. I started learning cooking but it was a fail attempt.I checked for the travel cards that work in Japan.

IF:Please tell us with what work/research project you carried out during the internship period? It’s application in near future and your work in it?

Nidhi: We at Tanaka Unit, develop efficient, concise, and safe chemical transformation methods and strategies for constructing small molecules bearing functional groups and/or chiral centers. We have already developed various enzyme-like small organic molecule catalysts and peptide and protein catalysts to accelerate chemical transformations for the synthesis of functionalized designed molecules. Also the strategies and tools for designing and selecting highly efficient catalysts and chemical transformations. To demonstrate the efficiency and usefulness of developing catalysts and reaction methods, we create functionalized molecules and their libraries of biologically interest. Through our studies, we advance chemistry of catalysis and of construction of molecules and accelerate creation of molecules necessary for the investigation and control of cell functions and biological mechanisms. Our research contributes to the development of new therapeutics, therapeutic strategies, and diagnostics and extensively contributes to the Cancer research.

IF: What was the best thing about the work culture and the internship? What all things you liked there?

Nidhi: Undoubtedly, the punctuality and the warmth of the people. Everyone would greet you with “arigatou gozaimasu” in the morning starting from the security staff to your lab mates. Everyone is doing such path breaking research and this motivates you to do something substantial.

IF: Were there any special events during the internships?

Nidhi: Apart from regular Lecture Series, we attended a number of symposiums as well as Technical workshops, seminars. There were many interesting events planned for the interns- Museum visits, Water sports, Calligraphy classes, Jazz concert, Basketball and much more. There are various clubs at OIST and each one had a special event planned for the interns.

IF: What was the guidance provided by your guide/mentor? What all support you received from administration at the intern place?

Nidhi: My mentor guided me throughout my project work and was very encouraging. My mentor was very patient with me. I was skeptical during the initial days as the lab rules were very different from that in India. Undoubtedly, the administration at OIST is the best I have ever come across.They arranged almost everything and explicitly mentioned every nuances before we joined. Travel arrangements were made and accommodation was provided in the campus.We got an additional 2400 JPY as the stipend. Apart from this, a number of things were planned by them.

IF: Let’s now talk about some negatives.

What problems you or your friends faced, regards to the internship, which your juniors may be able to avoid?

Nidhi: OIST is the most systematic program I have ever come across. They gave us a PDF which mentioned everything from scratch to totality. The only problem was with the international ATM. It had fixed timings from 9am to 5pm, which also clashed with the university timings. Apart from a small store for survival, the campus is really far from the main place where you shop for necessities. So travel was a problem as cabs were expensive and University shuttles had fixed timings.

IF: Anything you would like to tell us please. Feel free to share any interesting thing that
happened.

Nidhi: For vegetarians it is a bit difficult to survive if you don’t know cooking. Plan well and save properly so you invest your time and money on things you like. July-August is the season of the typhoons, which are regular for the Japanese and they are very well prepared for them. So, there is nothing to worry about.

IF: To which all people you would, like to thank in context of this internship?

Nidhi: I would like to thank every member of the Tanaka Unit. I would also like to thank the Student Support Centre at OIST. This internship would not be complete without my friends Himanshu Agarwal and Siddharth Gupta for helping me throughout the stay my stay at OIST.

IF: How much difference this internship period has made in your intellectual capabilities and mindset. In broad terms what are your gains from this?

Nidhi: This internship has helped me see life not only through engineering and formulae, but also through pictures, sounds, landscapes, faces and more. I have definitely matured as a researcher, but the majot gain has been the confidence I developed during my research period. Now, I can tackle any problem on my own and have become more solution oriented.

IF: Advice for juniors? Which can help them in getting internships in their future college life and also advice for making the best out of it.

Nidhi: Start Early. Be persistence while applying and never be disappointed by rejection. There is always JUGAAD.

IF: What are your future plans after this internship and how much impact this internship will have on it?

Nidhi: This Internship had significant impact in shaping my career as it helped me decide what I don’t want to do in life. I am still looking for job opportunities as well as fellowship opportunities.

IF: Any views about this initiative of InternFeel, and how beneficial it would be? Any suggestions for improvement?

Nidhi: This is really an excellent platform for the students to stay updated about the various research opportunities and also the procedure involved in each of them. Every individual always looks for some direction and this is where InternFeel comes into picture. It helps analyze the present scenario and also clarifies all the myths.

IF: It was so nice to know all about this. We agree you would have been busy with your academics. Even then you took out time for this. We thank you and wish you best of luck for all your future endeavors.

Nidhi: Pleasure is all mine 🙂

Have you done internship / training? Please Share your experience . It won’t take more than an hour but will help 1000s!

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