For insight on how to obtain a research internship in the field of Computer Science, we interviewed Praneeth Kacham who did his research internship in Microsoft Research, Bengaluru.
About the Company: Microsoft Research India is engaged in basic and applied research in multiple fields of computing, information technology and related areas. It also collaborates with academia and plays an active role in training young researchers. Their current areas of work range from theoretical computer science (algorithms, cryptography), systems (distributed systems and networking, programming languages and tools, security and privacy), machine learning, natural language processing, human computer interaction, and applications of technology to solve societal problems. Some examples of their current projects include 99Dots, DataMap, TrustedCloud, Melange and Massively Empowered Classroom.
The applicant mailed one of the professors working at MSR India with the objective of securing an internship and once he got a positive response from them he had an interview with them and was selected. There was no pre-specified CG cutoff. No details about PORs and ECAs were asked as is the norm in research internships and careers. The Professor only wanted to know about his background to evaluate if he could work with him in his research area.
The applicant didn’t write much on his CV and since he had a good CGPA, it had a positive effect on his selection(again there is no cutoff). In his interview, he was asked some questions about the courses he had undertaken and he was asked some proofs. Apart from that, he was given some research papers to read in a duration of 1 week and at the end of the week, he was asked what he liked and didn’t like about the papers.
Preparation for the Internship:
The applicant’s internship was divided between Winter and Summer. During the first part of his internship he faced some difficulties as he didn’t know about some topics relevant to his internship but with the help of his mentor he was able to pick them up on the go and after the first part of his internship he took a course “Numerical Algorithms” which turned out to be incredibly useful for him. Also his previous SURA summer project helped him to model his thinking process to fit research problems.
Having a background in Theoretical Computer Science and a good CGPA helps.
Courses taken in IIT-D which helped with the internship:
The courses “Analysis and Design of Algorithms” and “Numerical Algorithms” helped the applicant in his internship.
As an intern, he worked on coresets for linear regression which are similar to support vectors in SVMs and coming up with answers for questions like “Given many examples and labels, what are the most important examples in determining the optimum solution?”.
Microsoft Research has a completely academic environment and work hours are flexible. Interns can come and leave at any time.
Expectations from the company:
The company has no specific expectations from an intern and an intern can work in the field of their preference and hopefully be able to learn how to do research.
Suggestions to would-be interns from Praneeth:
- Decide early which type of internship you want to do. If you are sure you like research and want to go for a PhD in future, I would advise you not to sit for company intern interviews in the college.
- Recommendation from a professor who you had worked with earlier will also help especially if you want to work in the field of research of the prof. giving recommendation.
- I didn’t have much difficulty in getting the intern. This was one and only place I have applied to. This may not be the case for everyone. So, start applying early(About September).
Article by: Aditya Senthilnanthan, Anukriti Yadav