Summer Internship at New Zealand by Vipul (IIT Kgp)

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InternFeel ID: IF15024

415415.InternFeel: Hello Vipul, Pleasure to meet you. Please tell us about yourself. What makes you different?

Vipul: My name is Vipul Shrivastava, born and brought up in Bhopal. I went to IIT Kharagpur after completing my school and got enrolled in a dual degree course of Electrical Engineering. Well regarding my interests, I love doing a plethora of activities. I started playing Harmonium and Synthesizer early enough in school and then few years later I started playing Tabla. My family has a lot of people who are associated with Indian classical music hence I got the chance to know it early in my childhood. I then gradually began unravelling myself and then started doing Poetry. Since then, I have been keeping my diary to pen down my emotions and thoughts and have been in love with all those activities. To a person who loves music and is a poet at heart, the world looks quite exciting to explore and hence I like observing, analysing things, be it technology, be it philosophy, and be it anything. I have a soft corner towards the people who are needy and poor hence I have been involved in the social sector domain as well. I love playing cricket, had also been previously involved in athletics. Above all, I am a big Sachin Tendulkar fan. Period!

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

Vipul: It has been a long time now. I was in my 3rd year. I got the opportunity to work in the project on Range Imaging where the work involved the designing of algorithms to calculate the volume of objects from a distance without actually having to measure their dimensions. I had already got an internship offer from IBM India which was more about testing and dealing with test benches. Hence I decided to go ahead with the former. It was at  for a period of around two and a half months. I am sorry I don’t remember the exact figures of stipend but it was sufficient enough to have a decent living for that duration including all the travelling, roaming around and still ending up with decent savings.

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

Vipul: I came to know about it by one of the researchers with whom I worked initially. I would say getting an internship abroad gets quite random if one is not applying via a formal internship process like an MOU or a dedicated internship program etc. One might get to work in good universities abroad provided he has done some good research in his area of interest, working on some projects within the department itself, a publication or two would increase his chances of getting a decent internship exponentially. A good CGPA in any case is quite advantageous in getting a good enough internship. In my case, my profile mainly depended on my previous projects and not the CGPA. I mainly explored the contacts of my seniors, my batchmates and my professors in exploring the internship opportunities. With the congestion of applications increasing each year, one must not get dismayed if he doesn’t end up getting a good enough experience outside. As I said, it is quite random and it depends more on luck than the actual profile of the candidates in a lot many cases.

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

Vipul: Well, since I didn’t get an internship via an MOU or something, it was basically a two way communication between me and my Professor. Anyone could apply and it all depended on the Professors’ wish to take in the student. Therefore it would be beneficial if the desiring students worked on a good project for sufficient enough time, prior to applying for the internships. One has to be quite frank in discussing about the possibility of funding and in most cases the amount they allocate is sufficient enough to have a comfortable research apart from the exploring of places and stuff. But one should be ready with his passport at least before applying and should not be involved in last minute hassles.

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?

Vipul: As I mentioned earlier, it was a two way communication. Though I must agree they must have received various applications, on my part I got involved in a lot of projects starting from my 2nd year. I worked in the areas of Signal Processing for some-time, then, I utilized my second year vacations to work on another project. The project continued till the end of my 3rd year and simultaneously I got involved in another project so that I ended up having worked in various domains. My basic idea towards getting involved in all those areas was to know what could be the most fascinating thing to work on. Ultimately after this internship, I ended up doing a project on Computer Graphics in Electronics Department.

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

Vipul: I got the offer in around February when I was gearing up for my internship at IBM. Though the internship was supposed to start from early May, any trip involving going abroad requires a decent bit of planning esp. regarding the stay and the VISA application process. Hence the offer came in at a good enough time. I was with my friends and we all were involved in the usual chit-chatting stuff. All of us had got good enough internship offers and the majority of them were going abroad. So we were all in the process of arranging treats and stuff. My room was quite lively with its doors permanently open so that the moment any good news or something happened, we would scream and in a flash we would be having our unending chat sessions followed by our visits to Canteens. This offer did increase the joy and the excitement. The happiness of being with some of the closest ones indeed makes it quite happy.

IF: What all preparations you did (academic/otherwise) after the results in view of the internship?

Vipul: After receiving a nod from the Professor for the internship, I asked him to send me the invitation letter asap. It was needed for the VISA application. I got it the next day and then it was mainly about planning for the stay, itinerary, currency exchange etc. There was a senior in my wing who went to New Zealand prior to my internship, and I got a lot of information regarding various minute things you usually ignore. I explored the various ads for the availability of rooms, had a chat with a lot of people, booked the flight tickets earlier to get a good enough discount. This was all done when I was going through my 6th Semester. We had the hardest semester of Electrical Engineering that session and it became more difficult with the inclusion of internship planning etc. Electrical engineering guys might be knowing what it takes to have these many courses in a single semester like Power Systems, Computer Architecture and OS, Embedded Systems, Finite Automata and formal languages and lastly but certainly not the least Electromagnetic theory. But well, all’s well that ends well.

IF: So Vipul, 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?

Vipul: I worked on a project involving the application of Range Imaging in computing volumes of the objects from a distance via Range Images. We used the Mesa Swiss Ranger for the data acquisition. There are quite a few mechanisms by which one can get a lot more information apart from the pixelated ones. We utilized some of those and ultimately came up with a Software which could provide the expected results. I had to design algorithms maintaining a high level of accuracy and minimum number of views. It has indeed helped me a great deal in enhancing my knowledge and experience in the relevant domain. I then entered the area of Image Processing and related fields where the application of Range Images could be utilized for various uses. One such application was a part of my B.Tech and subsequently my M.Tech project on 3D Image Reconstruction of objects.

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

Vipul: It was quite different from what we usually have it over here in India. There was less of formality and more of friendship that we had while working on the project. We used to have an altogether different ambience in our lab with music, some nourishment, Pizzas etc always there. Fridays used to be half days wherein the second halves no one was allowed to work. We used to have parties simultaneously playing some games with Professors and students. I initially used to come during the day to work. But then, later for exploring more of NZ and going out, I started adjusting my routine sometimes working at 4’0 clock in the morning sometimes at 12 at night. It was quite cold too that added to the fun. Then we had some students from Kharagpur too who were having their internships in NZ along with me. Two of them were quite close to me and located in Hamilton only so we three had an awesome time there. The much added flavour was the encounter of one of the landladies who gave me nightmares during the internship. But well, it seems quite laughable and funny to remember now.

IF: Were there any special events during the internships?

Vipul: It was the winter in NZ when I visited. Hence trips and all were quite minimal as far as university was involved. Though we did have a lot of trips on our own with our friends, I happened to visit what are called Hotsprings, had a first time experience seeing them. NZ was quite beautiful as far the scenery and imagery is concerned. I fell in love with it and had a lot of road trips, went to explore beautiful snowy mountains, pubs, streets esp on weekends. I lived in an apartment where I found some of the great friends which emulated the hostel like environment which again added to the fun.

IF: What was the guidance provided by your guide? What all support you received from intern institute’s administration.

Vipul: My guide was quite supportive and highly knowledgeable. He was quite open to my suggestions and encouraged my thinking and analysis in the project. We also worked together in the area of Gesture Recognition and it was a great experience to work under his supervision. The Institute was quite helpful and gave all the facilities that a visiting student might require. Ranging from arranging a legal advisor, to securing my privacy, to giving me my workspace, fast disbursal of stipends, no delays in any kind of help, more or less it was quite alright in delivering on its part.

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?

Vipul: To be honest, it’s not so difficult to have a good enough living and a decent experience from such an internship. But many of us would be first time visitors to such a place esp. if we haven’t graduated yet. Hence it might be difficult to arrange and manage. I would say fixing up an accommodation should be quite vital and you should know where you would be residing atleast temporarily. You should have a fair idea about the kind of expenses you would be incurring. For guys, it might not be as difficult as it might be for girls. Though we had a girl intern from KGP in Hamilton, things were pretty okay to deal with for her. Infact the administration and the security are something that NZ is proud of. Being the least corrupted country and the handful of the population comprising of the Chinese and the Indians, things are rather quite pleasant and familiar for such a trip. Regarding the food and stuff, I being a vegetarian and a non alcoholic person survived the whole winter with quite an ease. Though it’s tough for vegetarians to find a suitable place to eat other than the Indian Restaurants, but nevertheless there are plenty of options to choose from.

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

Vipul: Well I would say it was quite a happening trip for me. This was my first trip outside India. I was still in the early days when I got shocked when my landlady threatened to file a case against me for no reason. More on this here . I have to say she was an outlier as far as other people from NZ are concerned. Most are them are quite polite and helpful. It was difficult to deal with such cases at a strange place. I had to go through Tenancy Acts- 1986, laws, NZ constitution etc. just to make sure I was safe. I had meetings with legal advisors on a regular basis. I once found her in the mid of streets on a weekend when I was with my friends. She saw me and screamed and asked me to wait there. We had some fun escaping and ending up at Punjabi Dhaba. Though it looks funny now, but it was quite difficult to deal with. Then during the internship, I made a lot of new friends. My project went well, had no problems with the landlady after I found that I could sue her any moment, and after a successful trip as I marched towards the Auckland Airport, I found a promiscuous girl. Once again, things looks rather edgy but then I found a way to escape. All in all, an experience worth cherishing for in the long run.

IF: Have you done any internship/training before? It would help the readers if you could bring a comparison among your two different experiences.

Vipul: I did an internship before this one but it was more like a formality than an experience. This experience gave me a lot of exposure esp. an insight to the research one can have while doing a PhD or so. I worked on some projects before too but the experience here was quite different and encouraging. The facilities of conducting research were quite good as compared to what I had previously been exposed to. I would say one must go ahead with such an experience to get the most of it. It would surely help the students gain a lot in their respective careers.

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

Vipul: I would like to thank my Professors who helped me gain immensely from the internship. Their encouragement to my ideas and designs gave me a huge boost to try different things on my own. The work successfully ended in a publication later. I would also like to thank my family, my friends both in India and abroad in helping me out with a lot of things specially while dealing with cases and stuff.

IF: How much difference this period of 2 months made in your intellectual capabilities and mindset. In broad terms what are your gains from this?

Vipul: Research is an experience which improves with your involvement in it. Those two months were quite helpful in shaping my thoughts about the research if at all to be pursued later or not. I did an internship later as well in the US and found how much I gained from my previous experience. The applications these projects have which could help the society as a whole are far greater than what I used to imagine. You get to interact with people from diverse cultures, regions, universities and backgrounds that ultimately help you grow both personally and professionally.

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.

Vipul: A piece of advice to juniors would be to build up their profile and experience first. Get involved in a project or two, contribute with your thinking, knowledge, may be get a publication later. Even if you don’t have a good enough experience of a project prior to your application for internship, do have a good enough CGPA. It is always helpful and advisable to have a good result which helps immensely not just in getting a few internships but also helps a lot after you graduate.

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

Vipul: I did my internship in a similar area later on too. I got placed in Philips Electronics, Healthcare, R&D where I worked as a Senior Electrical Engineer. Though it was a role of an engineer as per designation, but it was nothing short of the hands on experience of an overall product development. I can truly say an experience from such an internship gave me a lot of confidence and exposure which has helped me immensely in my career.

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

Vipul: It is a wonderful initiative to say the least. It’s very important for students to have a background-information prior to the internship about the University or a company whatever the case is like. Hence, I am sure it would be highly valuable to the students via which they can gain a lot. I would encourage you guys to make it reach to more and more people. Have a lot of data so that students might get the much needed information atleast about the popular companies and universities. I wish your team best wishes ahead.

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

Vipul: Thanks a lot. I wish you good luck ahead.

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