For insight on how to secure a research internship in the field of Textile Engineering, we interviewed Akanksha Pragya who did her internship at the Department of Textile, Technical University of Liberec, Liberec, Czech Republic. Read on to find out about the selection procedure, required skill set and the overall experience.
“I already did an industrial internship with a consulting firm in the summer of 2017, so, I wanted to try otherwise. Also, due to my growing disposition towards academia as a career option over the past year, I was keen on doing a research project for this summer. If it hadn’t been in the Czech Republic, then it would’ve been at IIT-D.” – Akanksha on why she chose to do a research internship instead of the other options which, in general, are preferred by the lot.
About the University:
The Technical University of Liberec:
Founded in 1953, the TUL is one of the Czech Republic’s best-ranked institutions. The university boasts of 19 highly specialised laboratories which are traditionally oriented towards research programmes focussing on material research, nanotechnology and textile engineering. It boasts of an overall rank of 120 in the QS Emerging Europe and Central Asia Rankings.
The university had floated internship opportunities on their website and on noticing these Akanksha sent in all the required documents along with a letter of motivation extensively explaining her previous research work. There was no follow up interview.
Even though there was no pre-specified CG cutoff, the applicant’s transcript was amongst the documents that were to be submitted.Hence, it is safe to assume that the grade point must have been taken in account. Also, no details about her PORs or ECAs were asked which is quite acceptable as when applying in the field of research, these do not tend to play a major role in the selection process. Thus, the make or break had to be and is, the research work that the student has done in the past.
Akanksha suggested filling CV points relevant to the position being applied for and even though you might have been a part of multiple activities, rather than filling them in a haphazard manner, weed out the irrelevant ones and fill in only those that will build up to a particular conclusion you expect your interviewer to obtain about you.
The applicant’s CV requirements were more towards the sole understanding of how to carry out research work and successfully be able to deduce inferences for application purposes- mainly in the form of former projects in textile/relevant fields.
Preparation for the internship:
The applicant didn’t particularly prepare for the internship. She had been already working in the field of electronic textiles and had a good idea of what to work on.The university had offered 17 topics to choose from so they could assign projects to the chosen individuals and since she was pretty clear about her academic inclinations,she chose one that resonated with her area of interest.
Ideal time for applying:
For foreign internships, get an idea about the programs floated by various universities, research labs inside or outside the country at least by the start of the academic year following which you’re planning to intern (Apply according to the deadlines. For self-arranged internships, start sending emails from around September-October).
For industrial internships, get HR email ids, mail them your CV, a rather short & crisp cover letter. A semester before generally works.
Akanksha in her internship worked on synthesizing activated carbon particles/structures from cellulosic/ligno-cellulosic materials (materials procured as textile waste during their industrial processing) via microwave & hydrothermal heating and characterised it for understanding its applicability for the textile-related surface-modification application.
Work Hours and Working Conditions:
Working conditions were friendly yet strict. Work hours and laboratory availabilities are strictly confined between 9 am to 5 pm and off on weekends. Time is respected. The interns take appointments and work accordingly within the predetermined slots. The faculty, research staff & students/ co-interns were very cooperative, during the internship and while adjusting to the new place.
Previous internships and its relevance:
Akanksha had previously interned at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Gurgaon, a multinational professional services network headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the second largest professional services firm in the world, and is one of the Big Four auditors, along with Deloitte, EY and KPMG. Vault Accounting 50 has ranked PwC as the most prestigious accounting firm in the world for seven consecutive years, as well as the top firm to work for in North America for three consecutive years.
Since her last intern was in a consulting firm which is completely different from core textile research, it wasn’t really relevant to this one. But it did give her the opportunity to work in the private as well as government sector of the textile industry having worked at the PWC office for one half of the internship and in the Union Ministry of Textiles(then client) for the other half.
Suggestions to would-be interns :
“Be proactive. Nobody expects you to know your career right away. But know your plans right. Concentrate on developing the skills. And once you know what you are upto, work towards it. Learn from those near you. Be aware of the relevant opportunities. There is no spoon-feeding anymore.”
Article by: Aditya Senthilnanthan, Anukriti Yadav