InternFeel Desk: Hello Digant,please tell us about yourself.
Digant: Hi, I am pursuing my undergrad from IIT Roorkee in Metallurgical and Materials engineering, presently in my final year. I love reading books , traveling and listening to soft rock. I am also a very big foodie!
IF: Which internship you got the chance to take? What is it all about? Stipend, duration, place?
Digant: I got through the MITACS Globalink program in Canada,conducted by MITACS, a non-profit organization of the Canadian Government. It is predominantly a research internship in the top universities of Canada.
MITACS is one of the best paying programs at undergrad level. They pay entirely for the travel, medical insurance, work permit and also pay a hefty weekly stipend. The accommodation is provided at the host university by MITACS for free. My internship was at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia (BC). BC is one of the most serene and scenic provinces of Canada.
IF: How you came to know about the internship? To what all sources you kept yourself connected?
Digant: My seniors over here were the primary sources of information. Though I was not an avid follower of the facebook group, I must say that post joining the group, all my queries were answered by the seniors on the group. Anyone applying for the internship must join the Mitacs Globalink India group. Rest, my seniors at IITR guided me during the application process.
IF: Tell us on the procedure to apply for the internship. Who all are eligible to apply for this internship? (Any special requirements?)
Digant: This is open only for pre-final year students. To apply for the internship, visit the globalink page and get yourself registered on it http://lc.mitacs.ca/globalink/. Everything needs to be filled up on this portal itself. No external communication with any professor in required. MITACS does that for you! You will have to upload your
grade sheets and fill up your bio-data. A maximum of 7 projects will have to be selected (all descriptions of projects are provided on the projects tab). The projects must span over at least 3 different Canadian provinces. The only eligibility criteria is that you must possess a CGPA of >8 until the last semester undertaken.
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?
Digant: It is a highly selective process as unlike programs such as DAAD or the S.N. Bose programs, in MITACS people from various nationalities participate such as Vietnam, China, Mexico, Brazil, France, etc. C.G.P.A is not the sole criteria here which may be a good thing for many of you there, but a good one does surely help. Focus is given on the research rationale and the skill-matching with the projects applied. Letter of recommendation also plays a good role. I feel that despite having a not-so-high G.P.A of 8.525, I managed to score pretty well on the research rationale part. A piece of advice would be to concentrate on praising Canada and highlighting one’s skills in
IF: About when you got the news for the selection? How was the
Digant: Oh don’t ask! I remember that day pretty well. It was a Saturday morning and I was woken up by my friend at 7 o clock. And as I was about to coax him for waking me up, the email popped up on my screen (thanks to the fact that I always keep my laptop switched on :-P). I couldn’t have been more jubilant. Trust me, the frustration of
being left out while others were landing up in good internships had taken its toll on me. And this big thing couldn’t have come at a better time. However the joy was short lived as friends and juniors started emptying
my pockets for treats and whatever… Hehe! Just kidding. It was a great feeling, nevertheless.
IF: What all preparations you did (academic/otherwise) after the results in view of the internship?
Digant: My professor had skyped with me a couple of times and had given me sufficient background knowledge about my project. I was to read some papers and projects related to my topic. Thankfully, previous knowledge of any software was not necessary as I was quite busy after that time with other errands.
IF: So Digant, could you please highlight us with what work/research project you carried out during the internship period? It’s application in near future and your work in it?
Digant: My internship was based on Bio-mechanics. It was on developing a surrogate model of the human spinal cord and mechanically testing of compressive loads on it for accident and reconstruction purposes. It was not directly related to my field of study. But I kept myself busy in development of the material using different
grades of polymers which was relevant to materials engineering. I had to work mostly using ABAQUS and Microsoft Excel. The lab work was limited. But during the brief stint, I got to work with some
complicated equipment and more importantly amazing people.
IF: What was the best thing about the work culture and the internship? What all things you liked there?
Digant: It has to be the people. My lab group was very helpful and accommodating all the time. You could just walk into anyone and buzz him about your work or even have a chat about the best nightclubs in town! We used to have lab meetings every Friday where we got to know about the work others were engaged in. My professor, though a
very busy person managed to help me out through mails and phone.
IF: Were there any special events during the internships?
Digant: Oh yes. MITACS organizes a soft skills workshop on one of the weekends. Apart from training you in communication skills, you get amazing food and an unlimited supply of tea and coffee (laughs).
Also each student is assigned a mentor who takes you for 2-3 excursions during the weekend. It is a very organized program where you don’t have to worry about anything.
IF: What was the guidance provided by your guide? What all support
you received from institute’s administration.
Digant: My professor, though a very busy person managed to help me out through mails and phone all the time. She constantly helped me out by making me aware of scope of higher studies in Canada and future prospects. She was also a consultant at a big private hospital nearby. We got to visit the neurotech lab at the hospital and also interacted with the personnel over there. The institute provided its full support by giving us access to library, internet , gym, etc.
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?
Digant: Negatives, very few as Canada is a very hospitable country. One of the things could be that the institute can be quite stingy at times with regards to the maintenance of the residences where we were staying. They bothered us a lot with regards to cleanliness (frowns). The cost of living is also quite high at Canada. The best part would be to not convert anything into Indian currency! Safety wise, it is a very good place. People return by buses as late as 3 in the night safely. As I was a non-vegetarian, I didn’t face much issues. Vegetarians might face certain problems like the variety of the food.
IF: Anything you would like to tell us please. Feel free to share any interesting thing that happened.
Digant: My peer group over there was amazing. We visited uncountable places, went on road trips, partied late night and had some of the best gossips. We had stayed in forests camping for a weekend! It was a family. The cultural differences over there didn’t seem to bother us. I am very thankful to MITACS for providing such an opportunity.
IF: Was this your first internship?
IF: It would help the readers if you could bring a comparison among your two different experiences.
Digant: I had interned at Visakhapatnam Steel Plant earlier. It was completely different. One of the factors could be that I was at my home. But an industrial internship involves a lot of physical work and extreme conditions. But here, I was more relaxed and project oriented. I spent time in learning about future implications of this work and research. Both were good in their own ways. But of course, the grass is greener when there are other perks too 😛
IF: To which all people you would, like to thank in context of this
Digant: My parents for supporting me, my professor at IIT Roorkee, Dr. G.P. Choudhari who gave me the recommendation letter. My friends at SFU with whom I had the merriest time and my lab group at SFU.
IF: How much difference this period of 2 months made in your intellectual capabilities and mind-set. In broad terms what are your gains from this?
Digant: I have become more open minded after seeing the culture at Canada. I interacted with some of the best minds working in my area, learnt about research work and how is it carried out. Some of the smallest changes that have happened are the ones I feel most proud of. Just like throwing the garbage in the trash can.
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.
Digant: You should have patience. I didn’t get this internship in the first round itself. Apart from that, you may also want to do an industrial internship through the placement team at your college. Whichever it is,it doesn’t matter as long as you do quality work over there and get to learn something that benefits your career. Even if nothing works out, this is not the end of life. Keep exploring all aspects and see where you
fit in the best.
IF: What are your future plans after this internship and how much
impact this internship will have on it?
Digant: I will be probably looking forward to do an MBA. I will also be sitting for campus placements this year. Though my internship hasn’t had much impact on it, but I got to learn a lot from it.
IF: Any views about this initiative of InternFeel, and how beneficial it would be? Any suggestions for improvement?
Digant: It is a very good initiative. I had got help from my seniors regarding this. So, I strongly feel that the good work must be continued. The word moves on my mutual support. Keep helping others and guiding people to reach their dreams.
IF: So Digant, we are at the end of the interview. From the entire team of InternFeel, we thank you for sharing your experiences with us, for everyone and we wish you best of luck for all your future
Digant: It was a pleasure from my side. All the best.