Research Internship | National Center for Biological Sciences | Sushmita Krishnan

Today we have Sushmita Krishnan, having done a research internship at NCBS. Let’s learn about her experience.
InternFeel: Please tell us something about yourself. Where and what are you studying currently?
Sushmita Krishnan: I am Sushmita Krishnan from Trichy. I moved to Trichy when I was in class 7. I did my schooling in Montfort School, Trichy, a place where I had a good exposure to work on my abilities and talents. After my class 12th, I joined Bharathidasan University, Trichy to pursue integrated masters in Life Sciences. My university is yet another repository of opportunities and has a very good research environment. I had a very memorable school life. I am currently on with my second year.
IF: Give us details about your internship – process of application, stipend, duration, and place?
SK: I attended my internship under the guidance of Dr. Venkat at NCBS to work on the research works and publications of different eminent scientists from Life Sciences at NCBS who hold national reputation.
I was given a stipend of Rs.12000 a month and the institute is such a wonderful place to work. The food was too good that it can put your taste buds to cheer. I was given accommodation in the same locality outside the institute. I stayed there during May 2018 and June 2018.
The selection process was very formal and transparent. Firstly we had to submit our essay of willingness and how we would fit into it. Later we had a round of questionnaire which had a variety of comprehensive questions from the works of different scientists. Based on our responses, shortlisted candidates were interviewed over the phone.
We were also asked to give a referee who could give them feedback. And then we were offered this opportunity.
IF: How competitive was the selection process? According to you, which qualities have helped you have an edge in the selection process? Also, what were the key things that selectors were looking for?

SK: It was a very competitive one with so many applicants. Being a student of the first year I faced so many challenges to prove my capacity. The selectors were looking for a candidate who had an edge in writing creatively and in visualizing concepts. I have been performing good in school. My GPA in college is also very good. So I had hopes of getting in. My vocabulary and speaking skills helped me perform well during the interview. And for this, I would like to thank Mr. Lloyd, my English teacher in Montfort School for helping me improve my vocabulary. In connection with this, I would like to thank my School Principal Bro. Dhanaraj and my faculty Dr. Archunan for being humble in giving good remarks and constructive opinions on my past which enabled me to get through the internship.

IF: Could you please highlight the work/research you carried out during your internship period?

SK: I was given the major task of looking into the research of various scientists and get them back into the archives. I also had to focus on some areas of the history of sciences and had to look into the government policies framed to benefit Life Sciences in India since Independence. I also had a good time working the Obaid Siddiqui’s laboratory working on his materials.

IF: Can you give us interesting details about your experience – good and bad? (It could be something like the amazing location of your internship, the friends you made for life, a bad senior, accommodation given in case of an outstation internship and something along those line.)

SK: The best thing about my internship is that I had a very cool PI who kept motivating me all through the days. I had weekend offs to explore the city. I also had the opportunity to visit places of interest like Thalakadu, Iskon and met my friends in Bangalore. My colleagues Renuka, Sachin, Sham, and Minu are the greatest reasons for making my work very effective. I had the opportunity to visit sister institutions like IISc, RRI, and ICTS in their company to explore dimensions in genetics, Physics, and Health. One exceptional good quality of that institute is that after 8 in the night they have shuttle services all through the night to drop students back home. So I had all the freedom to stay at night to continue my work. And the street food in the locality was yet another attraction for us.

IF: How do you think this internship has helped you grow? In other words, what are your key takeaways from the internship?

SK: This internship has boosted my confidence in my abilities and has motivated me to pursue a research career effectively. Most of the intellectual talks by my PI has helped me gain knowledge on different topics. Our leisure hours were an opportunity to socialize on ideas of how to work on scientific proceedings in our lab. Newspapers gave us ample topics to debate on and gain opinions from different fronts.

IF: Has this internship had a decision altering impact on your career? Do you now think of a different future path as compared to before doing the internship?

SK: Till I attended this internship I had no idea of how dynamic I can work in a lab setup. I have always wanted to be a researcher and the atmosphere there made me wish to become a celebrated researcher bringing out effective research perspectives.

IF: Lastly, do you have any words of advice or caution for students aspiring for this internship and reading this piece?

SK: My advice to students is that you don’t require to live in a metro city to gain exposure and excel. Small and humble beginnings with consistent efforts to excel are vital. Books and marks are not the only weapons you hold. Better ones live deep inside in the form of desires and abilities. Never lose hope when you fail. I have failed n number of times to see a small fraction of this success. Tap your curiosity to express ideas effectively. This is very important if you wish to intern in institutes of national repute.

IF: Please rate this internship from the scale of 0 to 10, 0 being really bad to 10 being awesome!
SK: I would rate 10. My internship was an outstanding experience.

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