Thursday, 29 October 2009

Summer Internships - once in a lifetime opportunity

Guest Article by: Saurabh Jain
I thank Saurabh for writing this article. Saurabh completed his Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering from IIT Delhi in 2007, and is into Management Consulting since then, advising global firms on growth strategy, mergers and acquisitions, revenue enhancement, global expansion, etc. He has worked for Strategy & Operations division at Deloitte Consulting, and is currently working with consulting division at MN Dastur & Co. Pvt Ltd, Kolkata. He is also involved into a number of activities like writing, entrepreneurship and social works. He is an enthusiastic blogger and is involved with many social works like working against Dowry & Domestic Violence and is always ready to help anyone who needs advice on career and education related matters. He could be reached at saurabh.iit2003[at]gmail.com.

Doing a summer internship was a dream of mine. Many of my seniors had been to Internship during the summers after their 2nd or 3rd year, and almost all of my classmates had started talking about doing it – for many reasons – to see a totally new world, new people, new technologies, new environment, new kind of professors/professionals, new ways of doing things. In short, as they call it, an international exposure, that would help them in broadening the scope of their thinking, and in materialistic terms to get some quality stuff for their resume – after all, having an international experience does count on your resume (which I realised 2 years after graduating from IIT Delhi, that some companies clearly specify in their job listings – “candidates with international experience and atleast one foreign language preferred”). But for me, Europe was the only fascination – and I wanted to do it.

Application
I would not go into the details of how I went about applying. My initial method of applying was as haphazard as it is for any other starter. The best way to look for potential internship university or a company is to approach the people of your own discipline who have already been interns to the countries you want to go to – do a bit of networking and ask for their help if they can refer you to their previous university/professor/company. If you are unable to find any such seniors, the next best way is to open up your Orkut account, look for the Summer Internship communities, join them and go into the discussions. You’d find lots of people asking others about which university and which field of study are they going to do their internship in. Check out the websites of those universities, and start looking for professors’ profiles and if they belong to your field of interest and fire your email.

Approaching your own department professors won’t be a bad idea. Some professors have contacts with foreign universities, and they can contact them and help you get an internship.

Securing an internship needs luck and patience. Sometimes people make hundreds of applications before getting selected, and sometimes they get selected on the very first application. You’ve got to be at the right person at the right place at the right time.

Resume
Resume does matter – and always keep in mind that resume is not a one day job. A good resume takes editing a number of times. So the better way to go about making your resume is to first see atleast 10 resumes – take them from your seniors or download them from the internet. Do not copy paste anything from theirs. Just see their formats, and start building your own resume. And find out a senior who can be your mentor in resume preparation. Keep showing him the resume, and he’d give you the tips about what changes are required. Believe me, it takes atleast 20 iterations before you have a still imperfect resume in your hand. A resume is never perfect – it can always be better. Try and make a one-page resume (if achievements are too much and do not fit in one page even after shortening as much as possible, try and make a two page resume – but a strict ‘no’ to 1.5 page or 1.75 page resume). Once you feel the resume is at a decent level, start applying as mentioned in the previous section.

Funding
None of us wants to go for an internship by paying from our own pocket. And the good news is that scholarships are available for summer internships – but not always, and sometimes you’ve to be aware about the sources of scholarships. So, as soon as you get an internship offer from your professor, and you are told that you won’t be offered any funding for your stay and travel, visit that country’s embassy’s website. These websites list all the scholarships available for foreign students to study for short-term projects or bachelors or master’s degree in that country. Go to these links and find out the details about the application procedure, deadline for applications and apply immediately. Some organizations provide scholarships throughout the year while others provide them once annually or twice annually.

Secured more than one internship?
Some people get positive responses from more than one university/company. In this case, students have an option of selecting the best option in terms of country, subject, university or finances. The left out options could best be utilized by handing them over to your classmates who are also looking for internships. Talk to the professor or the company you’ve got an internship with, and tell them that since you cannot make it to the internships due to some personal reasons, you are recommending your friend for the position and they can consider him/her if they don’t mind. This helps everyone – your friends, the professor, and your own university gets a chance to represent itself at one more location on this earth.

While you are doing your internship
Once you have landed your dream destination, the responsibility lies on your shoulders on how you manage to make the most out of your internship. You’ve limited time of some 10 weeks and you must remember a few things that you must do.

i. Work should be your priority
Deliver your best. This will have many fold benefits. Firstly, you get a good recommendation from the place you are working in. This will help you get good grades for your summer internship projects when you are back home to your own university. A good work can also get you a recommendation if you are aiming at GRE/GMAT. Secondly, don’t forget that you are representing your university and your country. I’ve seen cases where university/country names are blacklisted for ever because of one intern’s behaviour. Thirdly, a good impression during your intern can help your juniors in getting the internships in future

ii. Networking
Grab as many opportunities of meeting and influencing people who will be helpful to you in your future.

iii. Tourism
This seems to be an obvious one in the “things to do” list, but some people just get involved with the above mentioned two things that they later regret not having realized the opportunity to see the beautiful world around. It’s your first tryst with your dreams – and first such experience as a student is always a memorable one.

I hope my experiences would be helpful in your internship pursuits. You can always contact me in for any other queries.

-Saurabh Jain
Summer Internship (ENPC-Paris, 2006)


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