Summer Research internship is not just about quality research projects.When your work takes you to places, one can experience new culture and cuisine. Further, travelling brings newer dimensions in you.
I would like to emphasize on the fact that it is better to have some research experience before applying to some summer research internship abroad. If you haven’t found one, just get associated with a professor. This gives you an edge to sort out the various universities or labs and also save time in writing the e-mails as you don’t have to change the content according to the research interest of the professors which most people do. Further, I believe it is worth your time to go abroad if you are really motivated and passionate. Trust me, if you have some research experience, then you can find an acceptance in a lab. However, funding is the most important factor when it comes to an undergraduate internship.
If you are a junior undergraduate, there are several scholarship programs like DAAD, Charpak Research Intern, MITACS Global Link, NTU-India Connect, Khorana, etc. One can look for other scholarship programmes at https://www.wemakescholars.com/blog/top-20-foreign-internships-for-indian-students/ .These programs usually demand the applicants to have good academic performance, say above 8.50/10.0. Also, students from premiere institutes are at an advantage in these programmes. Further, in many of these internship programmes, there are two level of selection committees, primary selection in India and then the country of research. A lot of other factors like statement of purpose also play a crucial role. However, the two most important factors are GPA and your department rank. Students in top 10% of their department and from a premiere institute demonstrating strong academic performance, but without a research background often get through. Let’s say the case of Germany, usually labs don’t sponsor the internships, although I know exceptions as well. The entire funding is from DAAD. However, if you are passionate about research and don’t meet the eligibility criteria, should you stop your internship dreams? Hence, I will mention about finding labs and interning abroad without going through the scholarship application process, but with funding.
The first thing to look out is the countries that have a minimum wage payment. France has a minimum wage of €546.01 (I received this amount although I read it to be around €554 before applying) per month for internships lasting between 2 to 6 months. However, there are some labs that pay for your accommodation as well. Some labs also pay you less than this or some may not pay you at all. So, just ensure beforehand. According to Belgian legislation internships must be paid, when not part of an education curriculum. The minimum wage is €751 net per month (for interns of 21 years and older; this includes possible grants). Look out for educational institutions in Australia and Luxembourg as these countries have the highest per hour rates. Further, there are several Australian Universities in the top 100 rankings in both Shanghai and QS World Rankings. Ireland has a minimum wage rate of €9.55 per hour. Ireland is a major hub of medical technology and one can approach professors in some famous colleges like Trinity College, Dublin.
2. Don’t ignore smaller universities
Bigger labs and universities often have insufficient funds for internships. So, never hesitate about finding professors in other universities. One can find reputed professors in many lower ranked US universities. From my point of view, it’s better to pursue a project under a guide/mentor willing to help you in publication, who frequently addresses your queries and can write a letter of recommendation for you. If you can come up with a research paper from a 3 months internship, this will be a big achievement. Often interns are left to explore topics from scratch and this takes a lot of weeks before you actually begin a work. Sometimes, interns are hired to validate the experimental results. Sometimes, interns are supposed to assist postgraduates. Hence, be selective about the nature of the work that suits you.
Things to look out before selecting an internship.
- Professor/Mentor: Your core field of interest and the professor’s interest must have a match. Look out for some his/her latest publiations. One can ask the professor to have a skype chat or interview before finally selecting him. Use Google Citations index to find out about the number of citations and other details about the professor. This actually works.
- University Reputation: Never ever shy to apply to the top universities or professors even if you don’t have a stellar profile. You will learn about the research activities which are going in the top notch fields of your interest. Further, this will help you mail professors or sort out universities during MS or Ph.D. application. But remember that your project and the outcome matters more than the reputation when it comes to an internship. So, don’t be merely blinded by the brand although it helps to build good network. All I can say is try. This was a mistake I commited as I had applied to only 18 labs mostly in France and Australia and got acceptance in 2.
- Pursue if you see a faint hope: If you get an acceptance, then don’t stop until the administrative process is over. If you are going abroad without a scholarship, be mentally tough to complete the official procedures well in time. All I can say is ‘Don’t stop till you see through!!!’
Find out the effective way to write an e-mail to a professor for a summer research internship in my next post.