Exchange Diaries  

By International Relations Cell

Outbound Diaries 2020

Jayesh Sharma | Electrical Engineering

Cornell University, USA

Research Area: Hardware Designing using Heterogeneous Computing.

Which university did you get in? What was your research topic?
I got into Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York.
My topic of research was related to Hardware Designing using Heterogeneous Computing.

How did you apply for FT?
I mailed the professor expressing my intention of working under him. My first choice was a Professor at MIT. My second choice was a Professor from Imperial College London, but I wasn’t able to get a position at either of the colleges. Finally, I got accepted by the third Professor to whom I had mailed, he positively replied to the first reminder which I had sent him.

How did you obtain the funding? Was it by the professor or a scholarship?
The professor did not have a grant for international internship students. But I applied for the IITKGPF International Internship Award, which is a scholarship managed by International Relations Cell. I had to write four SOPs for applying to the scholarship. The SOPs included short descriptions of how my research could benefit the institute.

Why do you think FT is essential?
FT is vital in case you want to pursue a master's from a foreign University. It adds credibility to your CV and acts as a considerable boost. Also, the professor under whom you host your FT can possibly help you a lot in getting yourself shortlisted for PhD under his guidance or masters at the host university.

From where did you get the motivation? How did it all start? How did you handle your preparation with your academics?
I was interested in hardware development and designing since my first year. When everyone was doing mainstream coding. Soon, I decided to pursue a research intern in the same field, and luckily I got an internship opportunity at IISc Banglore. This internship paved the way, and I further got a winter research internship at the Hong Kong University of Science and Tech, which did not pan out due to ongoing civil trifles there.
Handling the preparation was tough, especially in the 5th semester. It has the most challenging depth courses of my branch. Besides that, I had to apply for both the winter and summer FTs, which was tedious. Also, I had CDC in the same semester, I did not participate much in it, but the uncertainty of getting an FT built up a little mental pressure.

What was the role of CG?
CG does play a major role in the selection. It is a way for the professor to gauge your dedication and sincerity more than your academic prowess. If you have a high CG, above 8.5, you should mention it in your SOP. Professors classify CG in small brackets so, from 8 to 8.5, from 8.5 to 9.0 carry equal weightage and so on. Even if you have lower CG, you can counter it by showing your interest and efforts in the research work you've done.

How did your university manage everything in this confusion of Covid-19?
Cornell was very systematic and appointed an HR to me, responsible for all the formalities related to the FT. She was patient and explained to me the whole process. I was free to contact her anytime, regarding even the smallest of doubts. She also took care of the documents for me.

What were the difficulties you faced during the entire process? Did the current pandemic situation affect you in any way?
The primary issue I faced was due to the extended lockdown in India. Regarding visa, the DS-160 form had already been filled but didn't process due to embassy closures. Also, there were some transportation issues about the address. I couldn't get the documents in time and so couldn't apply for the visa interview. The university officials were very supportive and refilled the form with different dates, incurring the cost. They kept in touch with me about the possibilities of when I would be able to travel. Finally, it didn't work out, and I started a remote internship.

If you did a remote internship, what was the communication mode for you to the university?
The primary method of communication was through slack channel and emails. Besides that, we had weekly meetings on Zoom, where we discussed and gave updates. The slack channel consisted of all the students with the professor, in case we wanted to discuss informally or had any doubts.

What advice would you like to give to our fellow KGPians who aspire for FT?
I would like to mention few major points that I would advice based upon my experience:
One should definitely try for an FT in their second year summers. The overall experience is good, one should not think much about the topic or university in second should just focus on getting one opportunity. Though it is always better to try for better universities and professors.
Choosing FT in pre-final year summers is kind of subjective. People who plan to do masters should definitely go for an FT, given that they will be able to get a publication out of it, or maybe get a good Letter Of Recommendation(LOR) from the host professor.
There are people who have decided to go for a job even after going for a research internship in their pre-final year, so there is no general rule about FTs. If you want to work in some particular field of your choice and you aren’t getting much options in corporate interns for the same field then also FT is a great choice.
Please don’t send generalised mails to hundreds of of professors, realise that professors does read your mails, and your cover letter can easily make him realise that whether it is copy pasted mail body or a specifically written mail body.
Always mention about how can you contribute to professor’s current projects, this shows how good you are at understanding the implementations of the concepts. Also, shows that you have actually been through the professor’s research background and you are genuinely interested in working with him.
You should never hesitate in sending reminder mails, professors get several requests for internship. Hence, there are high possibilities that he might forget to read your mail, writing a reminder is always good within 3 days.