Viva la Viterbi: Jayashree’s experience

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InternFeel ID: IF15044

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Q1)
 In which course are you presently enrolled? Please tell us something about yourself- your interests and areas of specialization.

Hello! I am Jayashree Mohan, currently pursuing my final year B Tech in Computer Engineering at National Institute of Technology Karnataka, Surathkal. Apart from academics, I love painting and most of my leisure time is spent doing something creative.

Q2) Which internship did you opt for? Briefly describe the application process and eligibility with a few details like stipend, duration and location.

I was selected for the prestigious Viterbi India Program 2015, to intern at the University of Southern California. Though I was selected for the DAAD WISE Scholarship as well, I chose USC, for I thought I would gain more exposure here. Viterbi India program is one of the most sought after internship programs among the undergraduates, who are enthusiastic about research in the fields of Computer Science and Electronics. This is an 8 week long internship program and we are given a scholarship of $3000 (minus the health insurance, around 350$), in addition to airfare. The stipend is more than enough to manage all your living expenses for the two months.

You can download the application form from the IUSSTF website(The call for 2016 is open now! Deadline is 15 November), and send the completed form to the email id specified. The application requirements are fairly simple. You need your current transcript, 2 recommendation letters, and have to specify the names of 2-3 professors you would like to work with. Undergraduates or masters students pursuing Electrical Engineering, Computer Sciences or Computational Sciences are eligible to apply.

Q3) Is this your first Internship? How did you come to know about the internship? Which channels of information (Internet/ Personal/Corporate contacts etc.) did you utilize?

No. I had interned at IIT Delhi, in the summer 2014. I got to know about the various international internship opportunities through seniors in my college. Also I used to check several internship portals like Internshala and Internfeel to stay updated about the deadlines of the programs and experiences of interns.

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Q4) Let’s talk about how competitive the selection process is. What qualities of yours do you think helped you to have an edge in the selection process?

The selection is definitely competitive, as your application has to stand out in the pool of hundreds of applications received. Since many students from IITs apply, the competition is definitely high. I believe that a consistent and fairly high CGPA (9.86), the SOP, strong recommendations and previous research experience at IITD helped me get through. Another important point to note is that, your research interest must match with that of the professors you have identified to work with, failing which you might miss out the opportunity however strong your profile is. So, you need to do your homework and find out about the current area of interest of the faculty.

Q5) According to you, what are some common mistakes that you feel applicants should avoid in the internship application process?

Never exaggerate your skill set in the application process. Since your mentor might decide the project for you, be careful not to write something on the application, which you do not know, or haven’t worked on.

Q6)What kind of groundwork did you do post-selection and before beginning the internship?

Immediately after my selection, I got in touch with my mentor and worked out a rough domain in which I would be working. Since the work involved protocol development, I was asked to get used to the software and languages used for the same.

Apart from this, the VISA is an important task, but I faced no issues because the IUSSTF representatives helped us with every stage of VISA process and it all went smoothly.


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Q7)Please give us a brief overview of your work, role and responsibilities.

My project was a protocol development for maximum data transfer between mobile nodes in a network. This work finds its applications in intelligent transport systems, wherein vehicles need to communicate/ exchange information efficiently in a potentially short duration for which they meet. I mathematically analyzed the protocol and implemented it.

Q8)What was the best feature of the work ethic of the organization and the internship? What were your gains and takeaways?

Though this is a general point that anyone who interned in the US would assert, I would still like to mention that the work culture there is quite different from that in India. You grab a cookie or a sandwich and listen to an expert lecture/talk. Lab meetings are interactive sessions wherein the other lab mates appreciate and criticize your work, altogether leading to a constructive progress of your work. The best part about the Viterbi India Internship was that, we were a group of around 20 students from India, and hence we never missed home during our stay at the US.

I was quite an introvert before I went to the US. Learning to live independently, the opportunity to interact with like-minded people, exposure to some of the great research being done, and such innumerable incidents has moulded me into a better person, braver and more social.

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Q9) Were there any special events during the internships? (Events can be academics related like field trips, conferences, hackathons, meets etc. and also non-academic, relating to your hostel life and the like)

During the July 4 Independence week, a summer barbeque was arranged for the Viterbi India Interns along with the other domestic interns. It was a wonderful opportunity to interact with undergraduates and high schoolers studying in the US and get to know the kind of research they were into

As I mentioned, since we were a group of 20 students from India, we explored a lot of places in and around California, on the weekends. The memorable ones being, Hollywood trek, the mesmerizing Malibu, the adventurous Six Flags! , San Francisco, Vegas, the innumerable attempts to cook something exotic and innovative, and after all, the bond that we had developed over these two months.

Q10) Let’s now talk about some negatives. What were the glitches and problems that came your way, which you think your juniors should be careful to avoid?

With respect to the internship, absolutely nothing. But a small word of caution regarding the housing. We had to find our own housing near USC, which we did through Facebook groups. Whether or not you’re signing a sublease document, make sure to click pictures of the condition of the house before you enter and after you leave, so that you face no problems after vacating.

Q11) Any advice for juniors that can help them in getting internships in future and for deriving the best learning experience out of it?

Apply for an internship which you genuinely like. And if you have a target university or company, then prepare hard. So far as a research internship like The Viterbi India Program is concerned, SOP plays a very important role. So make sure your SOP stands out amongst the 100s of other applications. The same goes for recommendation letters. Make sure you inform your professors and get strong LORs well in advance. Most important, make the best use of the opportunity, once you make through the selection process. Remember you are one in a hundred who have grabbed this opportunity and hence learn as much as you can, from your mentors, your lab mates, the PhDs and your co interns. Plus, experience and embrace the culture there and enjoy and utilize every moment of your stay there.

Q12) What are your future plans and how much of an impact do you think this internship will have on it?

Research has always been my cup of tea. I plan to pursue my PhD and the internship has definitely added on to my research career. The internship has helped me realize the potential difficulties one would face when we take up research and the ways of tackling these issues.

Q13) Any views about this initiative of InternFeel, and how beneficial it would be? Any suggestions/feedback for improvement?

Kudos to the wonderful initiative of Internfeel! I remember digging up this site to read about the experiences of interns, exactly a year ago. Everyone applying for an internship would be interested in knowing the pros and cons of it and Internfeel is a right destination!

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