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I am Neha Chhikara,2nd year M.Sc student here to share my experience of my Internship experience at Indiana University during the summer of 2019
Bagging the internship
I bagged this internship through the Placement cell. The process was quite straightforward which included: resume shortlisting and there was no exam post that. However, the shortlisted students had their interviews scheduled with the professor where the main focus was on getting to know how much you are interested in research in the first place and what you plan to pursue ahead in your career
So after the interview, we were supposed to give names of few professors under whom we might want to work according to our research interests and in the end, we were assigned professors from our list based on their availability.
Obtaining a visa was not that hard but it was surely a lengthy & time-consuming process. To bring that into the picture, After filling the forms, the appointment date for the interview I got was about one and a half months away. I did end up getting the visa through without any problems. However, that was not the case with everyone. One of my friends who was going to the same university as an intern got something wrong which made his process quite hectic for him but in the end, thankfully he also ended up getting the visa.
Essential things you need during starting days.
I personally recommend taking Ready to eat food along with you because initially, it takes about 2 to 3 days to acclimatize to the new environment after which you get time to go for grocery shopping and recover from jet lag thus it is very helpful to have ready to eat items. I also highly suggest carrying a forex card which makes purchases much easier, as the stipend takes a while as you have to get getting a social security number, open a bank account, etc for that. I would also mention getting a sim card as soon as possible. That helped me a lot initially.
My Research Work
I worked in the supramolecular chemistry lab. My research work was in a wet lab mainly on the synthesis of receptors for anionic recognition. Talking laymen it basically involved learning quite a lot of techniques employed in normal organic chemistry labs. I also got the opportunity to use NMR and Mass spectrometers which you are not allowed here being a masters student
Differences in the research culture there vs insti
I would particularly like to mention regular group meetings there. We had a group meeting every week and that was apart from the biweekly meeting with professors in a group of two to three people. These sort of interactions directly with my guide and other people really helped instigate an enthusiastic point of view towards working in the lab as it was my first experience in a research lab. Also, people, there are very amiable and interacting and indeed very open-minded, you feel like home with them.
I got to learn a lot during this short span of time which further amplified my interest towards research.
I used to start my day by cooking in the morning for breakfast and packing my lunch and I always tried to reach the lab by 9 in the morning and worked till 6 to 7 in the evening from Mon to Sat. I had a lunch break for like around 1 hr where you could relax. Since the neighborhood where we were residing consisted of a good chunk of students & it being summer vacation for most university students, it was quite deserted thus there was next to none nightlife whatsoever. However, Bloomington is a nice place not too crowded and quite serene. if you enjoy such an environment this place is a good match for you.
Experience of living abroad
I have lived by myself during my bachelors so cooking was not an issue for me and thankfully my apartment location was quite good as it was not far from grocery shops. Since I am a vegetarian it does make it a bit difficult situation to dine outside times, as some restaurants don’t offer vegetarian food and if they do offer the variety is abysmally low. So I pretty much stuck to cooking by myself. Also, I must mention for those of you not good in cooking or perhaps lazy sometimes, you do get a lot of frozen food from grocery shops so that option is always there
Our lab members organized barbecues and went boating together as well. I also got a chance to visit a few places that were in the area nearby since Bloomington was a small place with not many places to visit. We also had a gateway to Chicago which was indeed exhilarating for me. There are a whole lot of places that we explored namely 360 Chicago, Navy Pier, Michigan lake, Shedd Aquarium, Millenium Park, and the deep dish pizza at Giordano’s.
Me and my friends during our gateway to Chicago
Daunting return flight
My internship experience was pretty smooth but I do wanna mention a seeming mess up that happened with my friends during my return flight. The airline I was traveling had some technical issues and my flight was delayed. My friends who reached the airport before me were in the original flight but since I reached after them I was shifted to a different flight and I had two layovers. But the flight I was shifted to also got delayed but the timing was still in favor that somehow I could make it for the second flight. So what happened was my first flight was further delayed and the situation was if I couldn’t make it for the 2nd flight there were no flights to that destination for 24 hrs and I had to be stuck at the airport for a day. So, I talked to the airline’s personnel and luckily, there were some few seats available to a flight that was supposed to take off in half-hour and they shifted me to that flight and luckily I got the seat on that flight and I was the last passenger of that flight and I reached on time. But my friends missed their flight and they were stuck at the airport for a day and it was indeed an exhausting experience for them.
Message to juniors reading this post in a hope of bagging an intern
I would like to say this intern at Indiana University is great exposure for those students who wish to pursue research as a career because even during the interviews they are focused on what your research interests are and how enthusiastic you are about them. So, if you are very keen on it, it’s not difficult to bag an intern given your academic credentials of course.