DAAD Wise Program Experience by Raunak Agarwal

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InternFeel ID: IF15014

mypicMeet Raunak Agarwal, a final year student, pursuing B.E. in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering from BESU, Shibpur. He finds his interests in Embedded Systems and Robotics. He has also participated in different Robotics events across India in different colleges and even won many prizes.. He did a part of a project  on making a circuit which can take ECG and then interpret it through a MatLab code to examine the patient’s condition under the guidance of the Vice-Chancellor (Prof. Ajoy Kumar Ray) of his university. In his free time, he likes to spend time with my friends, browse over internet and doing Facebook.He got an opportunity to take the DAAD WISE internship. Students pursuing Bachelor degree/Dual degree in subjects like engineering, mathematics, natural sciences etc. from selected Indian universities can apply for this internship of 2-3 months at Institutions in Germany. It was a paid internship. The stipend was 550 Euros for airfare, free visa and health insurance and 21 Euros per day for living expenses. His internship duration was for 62 days.

 Time to know more about him…

InternFeel: How you came to know about the internship? Generally what was your way of being in touch with the media to get the information about the various internships?

 Raunak: I came to know about this internship through a post on facebook and then I also saw a notice in my University regarding this internship. Initially, I was not very serious regarding the internship but the Vice Chancellor of our University highly encouraged me to participate in this internship. He gave me the contact details of Prof. Amitava Gupta of Jadavpur University who helped me in getting through the selection process.

IF: How much competitive is the selection process? What things you feel are looked for in the applicant by the selectors?

 Raunak: The selection process is highly competitive as only 160 students were selected from our country across all IITs, NITs and some other Institutes. The first criteria that the selectors look for is the CGPA, and then the CV, Recommendation letter and letter of motivation by the applicant. We also need to get an invitation letter from a German Prof. to be eligible to apply for this internship. I had mailed around 200 Professors across Germany but didn’t get positive response from anyone. Then it was Prof. Gupta of Jadavpur University who contacted one of his friends in Germany (Prof. Peter Luksch), who was my supervisor during the internship at University of Rostock.

 

IF: What qualities of yours – educational / otherwise, you feel helped you in having an edge over the selection process?

 Raunak: I had a good CGPA of around 9.67. Apart from that my CV was also quite good. So I feel that my CGPA has helped me in getting an edge over the selection process. I think that if a candidate has a CGPA>9 then he has a high probability of getting selected. The SOP also plays an important part in the selection process.

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

 Raunak: I got the news of my selection in the last week of January. I was expecting to get selected and when I got the news, I, my family and my friends, we all were very happy. It was my first internship abroad and I was the only and the first student who was selected from my University, so I was really feeling very special. I celebrated the news with my friends.

 IF: What all preparations you did (academic/otherwise) before joining and after the results?

 Raunak: After the results, I started searching for accommodations in Rostock. In fact I didn’t have my passport even after the results (though I had applied 6 months back). I was trying hard to get the passport before the deadline. Finally I managed to get the passport in 2nd week of February. Then I purchased the flight tickets and applied for VISA. Apart from getting the passport, the entire process had been very smooth because of continuous help and guidance from DAAD.

 IF: Any common mistakes which you feel students should avoid while searching and applying for internships?

 Raunak: The most important and time-consuming part of DAAD process is getting an approval letter from a German host. The students should start mailing German Professors in August end. The mail ids of German prof. can be easily obtained through google. Send mail to one Prof. at a time (Avoid cc or bcc). Before mailing, check whether you have spelt the name of Prof. correctly or not. Check the name of the University to which the Prof. belongs to (I had mailed a prof. in which I forgot to edit the name of his University and this really had a very bad impression as evident from his reply). Don’t forget to attach your academic transcripts and CV and don’t forget to mention that your internship is totally funded by DAAD and you don’t need any financial support from him. Highlight some of your important qualities and show interest in Prof.’s area of research and also include it in your CV if possible. Mention the details of the internship and keep in mind about the time when you are mailing. One should mail when its around 9 am in the country in which he/she is mailing so that the prof. gets to see your mail in the top of his inbox.

 IF: With this internship being foreign internship, we would like to know what problems came in getting the visa, travel tickets, and any journey related problems which your juniors may avoid?

 Raunak: I only had problems in getting the passport. After I received my passport, the process was very smooth. Before getting the visa you should have travel tickets and a few documents which DAAD will mail which are requiredfor visa. Then I converted the currency and carried around 600 Euros with me for the initial expenses as DAAD can transfer money only after we had opened a bank account in Germany. The transfer usually takes around 2 weeks. So you should carry enough money with you for the initial expenses. I carried 600 Euros and it was more than sufficient although I received the transfer after 3 weeks.

IF: So Raunak, 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?

Raunak: I carried out research on Modelling of a store-and-forward Ethernet switch in MATLAB which will be used to analyse the traffic generated by a multi-loop Networked Control System (NCS). Being an Electronics and Telecommunication Engineer, this project based on Communication and Networking is very much related to my field of study and it has a lot of applications in future.

IF: What was the best thing about the work culture and the internship? What all things you liked there? The difference you found in comparison with the work culture of our country?

 Raunak: The German work culture is very flexible about the working hours. You can do your work anytime you want, however, one has to be punctual about finishing the work on time. The cutting edge technology at the lab and amazing work environment used to keep me working till late in the evening and enjoying it thoroughly. I made many new friends who were from different countries. This not only made me aware of various cultural aspects of these countries, but also let me expand my professional network beyond geographical and political boundaries. I love and truly appreciate the German way of working that essentially involves weekdays of hard work and weekends of sheer fun. Research in Germany was truly a joyful experience. I believe that German work culture and their motto “Business is business and beer is beer”- has surely made Germany secure a distinct place in the research world. The feature of Germany which amazed me was that the sun used to set at 10 pm. I would also appreciate the traffic maintenance at Germany. The traffic is so well maintained and there are buttons present on the road which a pedestrian can press for crossing the road safely. Everyone obeys the rules and this is the reason for development of Germany. Germany is very clean and pollution free as far as I have seen. Luckily, there was also a beach at Rostock (Warnemunde beach) where I enjoyed a lot. My host Institution was University of Rostock at Rostock, Germany.

 

IF: What problems you or your friends faced, during the internship, which your juniors may be able to avoid? Any safety issues for girls, which generally all parents are fearing about? Food and accommodation?

 Raunak: Everyone around me spoke a language that I couldn’t grasp at all. When I was in Germany I had to cook my own food. I had never cooked before. Thanks to Attique who helped me in cooking and in several other things starting from shopping to hanging out. We used to have our dinner together along with another guy (Sumit) from Kolkata who also came to Rostock as a DAAD Intern. Though I was a vegetarian I didn’t face any problem in Germany. I carried a lot of food stuffs with me like 5 large packets of Maggi, some snacks, bhujia, chanachur, sweets (barfi, soan papdi). This really helped me a lot. I did carry a lot of clothes with me which is absolutely unnecessary as Germany is a pollution free country. Just carry 2 jackets, an umbrella and 3-4 sets of clothes. After the initial days of awe, I quickly came to terms with life in Germany. I also started catching a few German words like Danke schon, bitte, tschuss, etc. The accommodation was not difficult to find. I could find out a cheap accommodation and I booked it when I was in India. Germany is absolutely a safe country for girls.

 

IF: As with almost everything, what were the cons of the internship? The elements which you felt, if wasn’t there could have made this internship super awesome?

 Raunak: I don’t feel that there were any cons of this internship. The internship was just awesome from beginning till the end.

 

IF: Were there any special events during the internships which you would like to share?

 Raunak: Yes, we had a meeting in Berlin for 3 days in which all the DAAD scholars were invited where we stayed in a 5-star hotel. It was a unique experience with 160 scholars from India coming together and spending quality time. We were given a very warm welcome by the DAAD team and the hospitality that we received was really worth mentioning. The 1st day ended with an interesting workshop on intercultural communication by Ms. Tina Patel, an Indian living in Germany for the past 13 years. The workshop specially focussed on several aspects of cultural differences that could exist between Indians and Germans in particular and how one could successfully deal with these potential barriers. The final day of the meeting was the most exciting one which began with a boat tour through the city of Berlin. This 3-day trip was the most exciting part of my entire internship. We were delighted to attend the thought provoking lectures from which we learnt a lot. Also the Indian food all of us were provided at a Restaurant and the Indian Embassy was indeed a noble gesture by DAAD to give us the “desi” taste in Deutschland. After three days of my stay at Berlin, I went to visit Munich, Saarbrucken, Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen and many other places in Germany with few of my friends. I also visited the concentration camp at Dachau. I enjoyed travelling across Germany a lot. Also the Deutsch Bahn trains were very punctual and so you can plan your trip very precisely.

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

 Raunak: My guide was so generous that he was waiting at Rostock main station for me when I arrived. He assisted me to my apartment and even took me to a nearby market to purchase some food items and a sim card. My host professor being the head of the department was often busy but nevertheless I was able to learn much from him. The work atmosphere was very open to the exchange of ideas, devoid of unnecessary formalities and involved a lot of personal exchanges. Having direct access to almost all technical resources online was an added advantage.

 IF: With DAAD Scholarship, there is a prevailing talk that there is a CGPA cut-off going till 9.2, 9.3. Is this true or a rumour? Do all the students who get selected are above this range? Even if the German professor approves you and say your CGPA is in 8.5-9.0, will you be simply rejected just because of the cut-off?

 Raunak: Generally, the students having CGPA above this range are selected. This year the cut-off was 9.1. If your CGPA is in the range 8.5-9.0, then the chances of selection are much reduced unless you have a very good profile, CV and research background.

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

 Raunak: I would like to thank my parents for supporting me and my best friends Vivek Shah and Vivek Sah who helped me a lot in the application procedure in editing the CV, SOP and in mailing Professors. They always cheered me up whenever I lost hope. Prior to my departure to Germany I fell sick. I had high fever. Even on the day of leaving India I was feeling very uneasy but it was my family, Vivek and Sunayana didi who supported me and made me feel better. I would also like to thank Prof. amitava Gupta who helped me in finding a host professor. Last but not the least, I would like to thank DAAD from the core of my heart for providing me with this wonderful opportunity.

 IF: How much difference this period of 8 weeks made in your intellectual capabilities and mindset. In broad terms what are your gains from this?

 Raunak: During this stay and travel in and around Germany, I learned a lot. These experiences of research and travel in one of the most beautiful part of the world have broadened my horizons beyond limits. The organised lifestyle, rules and regulations, work-play balance, open culture and many other small things was a great experience in itself. The internship provided me the opportunity to experience the state-of-the-art research opportunities in Germany and was a great eye opener for me. This internship apart from giving me an International exposure academically also helped me to learn to live in the German way: “SELF-DEPENDENT”. I was also able to hone my cross-cultural communication skills through maximum exposure to the people.

 

IF: What advice you would like to give to your juniors, which can help them in getting internships in their future college life.

 Raunak: I would advise my juniors to maintain a good cgpa at the end of 2nd year which is a very important criteria for the selection process and do take part in research based activities and try to make your CV strong. You should learn software like MatLab which is a prerequisite for any kind of project. Try to keep yourself updated about the different foreign internship opportunities available to you. Mitacs is also a good program for which students can apply.

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

 Raunak: Presently I would like to go for a job and after 2 years I am planning to do Masters from Europe with total funding and this internship would really help me in getting a scholarship for further studies in Europe and a good letter of recommendation from my German guide.

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

Raunak: It is really a very good initiative by InternFeel and it would benefit the students who are looking for internships as this interview carries every minute detail of the internship we have undertaken.

 

IF: So Raunak, we are at the end of the interview. From the entire team of InternFeel, we thank you for taking out your time and sharing your experiences for everyone and we wish you best of luck for all your future endeavors.

 Raunak:Thanks a lot!Talk to Us

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