Among the many hurdles for an engineering intern, finding means to fund your stay and travel is a big challenge. While experience gained during internship plays a pivotal role in your career, it’s tough to find paid internships that give you international exposure.
Among the few lucky ones, Tushar Borekar, a senior undergraduate in the Department of Metallurgy, Indian Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University) Varanasi got an opportunity to intern at Brunel University, UK. In an interaction with ‘A Numb Mind‘, Tushar reveals his perspective about a foreign internship and its implications on one’s career.
- Supervisor: Dr. Paul Sermon
- Summer Internship 2017: Brunel University London, UK
- Sponsorship: Professor
Numb Mind: Hello Tushar! Congratulations on your feat.
Tushar: Thank you!
NM: What was your mailing strategy? How did you land the internship? A lot of students would want to know that.
Tushar: An international internship represents to me an ultimate way of combining learning and travel for personality escalation. So, I started approaching various universities depending on their QS world ranking. Initially, I narrowed down my research area for internship and gathered my willpower to climb the mighty mountain.
I arranged all the required documents, as in:
- Cover Letter/ Mail-body content
- 2 Recommendation letters (one from supervisor and another from the Hod)
- A small presentation on my previous research work.
In my research, I targeted various prospectus countries like England, France, Germany, US etc. Alongside my search, I kept generating drafts by the names of professor and arranged them in the order of sending them. I always believe, ‘Right Place, Right Time and opportunity is yours’. So, I send mail to professors at 0900 hrs according to their time (except Friday). Fridays were part of my reminder emails.
Once any professor is ready to have further discussion rather than immediate rejection, I always proposed some alternatives to grasp the opportunity like having a skype interview; discussion regarding project he/she is planning; work plan to proceed etc. Only after the confirmation of project and professors keen interest in appointing me, I discussed on the money/ stipend related topic.
NM: Is it okay for you to share details about your stipend and if it was enough for your stay?
Tushar: In my case, the professor promised me to offer £25/day and arrangement of campus accommodation from the day I land in London. This support from my mentor relieved me from any kind of trouble in finding accommodation in an unknown city. Thus, I suggest all the candidates seeking foreign internship should persuade their mentor to at least arrange the campus accommodation because it is always costly or else you will end up living outside the campus.
NM: That’s a great piece of advice. What was your project about?
Tushar: My project during internship was on SiO2 nanofluids and its characterization. This project was aiming to use the fluid for heat conduction in different heat transfer equipment.
I was solely working on the project but once you are on different soil, difference in working culture can be seen. My professor and his post-doc. scholar were helping me a lot in experimental work and gave proper channeling to the project for relevant results. My work was combined with other research assistants under my mentor for proper compilation of the data.
NM: How was your experience in London? Did you also go on hiking or student trips? Tell my readers about your city tour in London.
Tushar: During my visit to London, I explored the city mostly on weekends. Talking of the most memorable experience is difficult, as every trip to the city was a new adventurous episode for me. But coiling it down to one incident, I can remember the 5km long walk by the river Thames which revitalized my soul.
I was enthralled by the numerous street performances and mesmerizing infrastructure. It inspired me. I got to click the photogenic views of London. One of my relatives truly said that to extract most from the city, start walking into it and you will be delighted by its grandeur.
NM: Tell us about the visa process. How difficult was it for you?
Tushar: Visa is a lengthy process. So, it is better if you apply beforehand. In my case, I got an appointment in mid-May with a lot of difficulties. This delayed my joining date in the lab.
You are supposed to fill the application form after registration on the UK immigration site. If you are planning for 6 months or less research in UK, your category falls into ‘Short Term Study Visa’. (Please look for exact details on VFS global site)
Once you are done with application form try to fix an appointment in VFS global as early as possible and download the checklist of required documents. I have listed some documents which could be helpful in avoiding query generation:
- Acceptance letter from UK University.
- Accommodation confirmation
- Stipend confirmation (Better if it is already mentioned in the acceptance letter).
- Bank account statement of guardians/ parent. (more than 1 lakh is desirable)
- Letter of declaration from parents mentioning that they are in the position to handle the expenses in case of any medical emergency.
- NOC from college on college letterhead stating no objection for your internship in the specified period.
*No need to book your flight tickets until you get VISA approved.
The rest of the documents required can be seen on the checklist from VFS global.
NM: Were you interviewed before being accepted for the internship?
Tushar: For my internship at Brunel, I was not interviewed as my project matched their requirement. But during the conversation with the mentor in Brunel. I simultaneously got an offer from Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris. The project there was different than my current projects, so it was decided to take an interview on skype with all the project associates.
The initial few minutes were difficult as the language accent is different but soon I got familiar and started to answer the technical question. Few questions were thrown to me, which was never taught to me in academics. So, I proposed them to share the project topic which they were planning for the internship and by requesting I bought some time for me to understand the topic and its application.
Towards the end of the interview, they allowed me to ask some questions.
- This round started by asking them the application of the project and what they are expecting form an intern?
- Then I asked aboutstipend and accommodation?
They agreed everything on financial help and support during my stay. But in the meanwhile, the mentor from London proposed a project with proper work plan. The project in Brunel sounded more promising to me than the other, so I ended up working in London.
NM: What was your reaction when you received the acceptance?
Tushar: My official acceptance was during the end semester examination. The excitement of being in London for 2 whole months was enduring. Friend and family were very happy to see me attaining this success after lots of dedicated effort.
NM: Any other tips for the readers?
Tushar: Once you are in a foreign land, remember that you represent India as a whole. Act responsively so that you never defame your country.
For VISA appointment see that if on the spot entry is available at centers with nominal few of ~2000/- rupees. This may fasten your visa process.
Don’t start discussing financial assistance as soon as you get a positive reply from any mentor. Have patience and wait for the right time. Make the most of your time while exploring and enjoy to your fullest.