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Shloka Negi, IIT BHU | SPARK Program | IIT Roorkee

InternFeel: Please tell us something about yourself. Where and what are you studying currently? 

Shloka Negi – Hello !! I am Shloka Negi and I am currently pursuing my B.Tech in Pharmaceutical Engineering and Technology from IIT (BHU) Varanasi. My interests include Data Science, particularly its application in the field of Bioinformatics, Machine Leaning for Biostatistics, and Genomics. Apart from academics, I love to play many musical instruments, sing, play badminton, and read books. I even love writing blogs.

My working area

IF: Give us details about your internship – process of application, stipend, duration and place?

SN: I was selected for the prestigious SPARK program, which is a summer research internship program at IIT-Roorkee. Usually, the selected interns had to come to the IIT-R campus and work with their allotted supervisors. However, due to the pandemic situation in 2020 summers, the program couldn’t be organized that way. So, they resorted to the online mode of the internship. 

Further, I will cover the other details one by one:-

a)    PROCESS OF APPLICATION – The applications for SPARK opens around January end and you get more than a month to apply for the same. The documents they asked for were – transcript (or last semester mark sheet), resume, and a brief research statement. Since I was applying for other internships as well, I had all these documents ready beforehand. The projects are already listed along with the faculty member offering it. I had to select a maximum of 5 faculty members ( in order of priority to work with) of my choice. For other details, you can always visit their website.

b)   STIPEND and DURATION – 2500/- per week. Minimum 6 weeks of internship had to be done, and it could be extended to a maximum of 10 weeks.

c)    PLACE – My Home! :-p

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 the selectors were looking for?

SN: The selection process was highly competitive. For the year 2020, there were 15,000 applications out of which only 65 interns were selected all across India. For me, I’d say that I had a decent CPI of 9.77, which definitely gave me an edge over others. Having said that, more important than this was the fact that my interests and skills perfectly complemented with the project I had opted for. So, both these factors played a role. However, I would emphasize the fact that if you are applying for an internship in your second year, keep in mind that the professor would look for someone who has a very strong enthusiasm to learn and can promise immense perseverance. So, craft your CV in that way, which would display your dedication and zeal to work hard. 

I saw my fellow mates who were selected even when they had a low CPI, but they were able to convince the professor of their passion and abilities to work hard. 

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

SN: I worked with Dr. Prateek Kumar Jha, Department of Chemical Engineering. My project was titled “Optimization of Polymer Predictors for Drug Delivery Systems, using Machine Learning Approaches.” Polymer designing for a particular drug (usually a poorly soluble drug) is a very tedious and time-consuming process. Hence, the entire challenge for my work was to reduce the amount of effort required for experimentation. We used several Machine Learning approaches to develop correlations between the predictors, which could make the experiments easier and time-saving. Finally, we were able to propose a set of protocols, which could be followed for choosing the best polymer for a particular drug. 

One of the slides during my online presentation

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 lines.)

SN: Organizing a virtual research internship could have been very challenging, as an amateur researcher does require the first-hand face to face experience.

Despite these challenges, I had a wonderful experience with SPARK. The entire program was so well organized, that it never felt the other way. My professor was very cooperative and patient. He steadily planned the entire course of action which we would follow and I just dedicatedly followed his guidance. Whenever I had doubts or he wanted to explain to me some difficult concepts, we would plan SKYPE sessions and share our ideas together. He made sure that there wasn’t a communication gap between us as it is highly probable for people to lose interest when working alone and remotely. He always pushed me beyond my boundaries and his constant belief in me made me work without any stress and pressure. 

Marking the end of the internship, there was an online presentation of the work we had done. The presentations were organized in batches. There were approximately 10 students along with their supervisors in each batch. All internees had to present their slides followed by the question and answer round. I even got the best presentation award.

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

SN: For me personally, this internship has been like an “enlightenment”. Everybody has confusion regarding their interests and what they would want to do in the future. Like any other student, I had the same doubts which kept me very stressed. After the internship, I realized what I am particularly good at or what my strengths are. At least now I could eliminate the fields which I don’t want to get into. 

This virtual experience was definitely more challenging that I guess an on-site one would have been. I developed the skill of “articulation”. Making myself understandable to my professor, without physically being there and similarly understand him from a distance was not that easy. 

I became more confident than I was before. I realized that only hard work and patience are what we students should strive for and rest everything happens on its own. 

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?

SN: Yes, this internship made me realize my true interests. As I said, at least now I could eliminate the fields which I don’t want to get into. Being a Pharmaceutical Engineering student, I always had an inclination towards the field of healthcare. But, I had a vague idea in my mind about being able to apply my tech. skills to healthcare. 

SPARK internship gave me very real-world experience in this field. So, yes I do have a different future plan as compared to before. I want to get my hands dirtier with new projects involving genomic technologies, precision medicine, and the analysis of Big Data for improving the healthcare sector.

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

SN: I would very strongly again emphasize that “just focus on the process and not the end result.” Working on oneself is very important. Keep studying, keep yourself updated with the discoveries happening in your field of interest. Never stop believing in yourself. Realize that there are many others like you, so you are not alone. I had absolutely zero knowledge of the work I had to do on day 1. Yet, when I look back today, I realize that simply consistent effort, patience, inquisitiveness, and a hunger for knowledge kept me going. Don’t keep very high prior expectations. Just keep achieving your short term goals. As Steve Jobs said, “You can only connect the dots backward”, you’ll later realize that you got what you had never imagined.

I would rate this internship experience as 9 out of 10. I have learned a lot from this internship.

InternFeel has been my go-to site whenever I had any queries regarding various internships. It is a great platform for both aspiring students as well as internees to come to a platform and get an unbiased view of different prestigious interns. Congratulations to the team.

We, at InternFeel, would like to thank Shloka Negi for sharing her experiences and taking a step towards helping junior students for many years to come! Also, we wish her all the best for all her future endeavors.

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