Foreign internships, especially research based ones, are amongst the best to involve yourselves with during summer. You get exposed to a much livelier research environment as compared to those in India as well as an opportunity to indulge in a little bit of travel during leisure.
Other motivations for those interested in applying to colleges after IITM, are letters of recommendation and paper publications, if sufficient work is done. All these things put together make foreign internships a very ideal option for summer internships
An unwritten advantage of an internship anywhere in Europe within the European Union is the access that a Schengen visa gives you to a number of countries in Europe, meaning a lot of travel is on the cards!
How to apply
Your best bet to intern at German universities is through the DAAD programme – Working Internships in Science and Engineering. These take care of everything including the financial aid you would require as well as the various formalities that are involved in getting your various papers processed for a visa (which are plenty!). Getting this fellowship would require you to have an invite from a German professor as well as a very good CGPA.
One alternative – a relatively harder route – is to get in contact with a professor and see if it would be possible for him to give you financial aid or at least help you with the formalities that are involved with getting a visa. But be warned not many professors/secretaries are very open to this.
Work you get in such projects could be experimental, simulation based or a combination of the two. The atmosphere in Germany is very open to you choosing what exactly you want to work on. Once you have a topic fixed, you can choose to work on any aspect of it that interests you. One other thing you are bound to notice is the attitude towards research. Most researchers are never afraid to ask one another for help especially if he has problems in an area that isn’t their area of specialization. Additionally any contacts that you may build while working at a lab would help you later especially if you are working on a related field.
I have been working at the University of Ruhr at the Interdisciplinary Center For Advanced Materials Simulation. My interests lie in the area of simulation of material properties from fundamental knowledge about the material. This specific internship turned up to be very oriented towards what I wanted and had the additional benefit of working under a very reputed professor in the field.
An internship in your field of interest gives you a perspective into how much you know and whether the work associated with the field actually appeals to you. It gives you a taste of people think when trying to tackle the same problem you have been reading about in textbooks. For me this internship has done all of that and helped me gain a better view of what it is that I want to do after graduating.
PS: If you are considering an internship in Germany, look for one in and around Munich, this is purely because all the places to see in Germany are there.
Editor’s note: Anirudh R. Natarajan, more popularly known as Nag, is a fourth year Meta student.