I started by working on my resume. I looked at the CV’s of 2-3 seniors. Particularly if you go to the CS website, there are a lot of CV’s by prior students. I looked at them and also from some other seniors and chose the format which I liked the most. I also picked up the wordings from those CV’s so I didn’t have to waste a lot of energy on that. It takes a lot of time to make a resume since you have to go through a lot of drafts and get reviews of a lot of seniors. It took an entire week to create a decent CV. I did the same for my cover letter. Then, I started looking for professors. There is a site called csrankings.org where you have all the universities ranked by their research and also the profs who work there. What I did, however, was visit the site of a university and select profs based on how appealing their research interest sounded to me. I started creating my CV in the mid-sem break and started mailing at the end of October. In retrospect, October end is a little late and I suggest others to start by early-October.
At the beginning of the 3rd semester, I undertook a project under Prof. Ragesh Jaiswal related to ML and I think that really helped. I used to write that project at the top of my CV and also used to describe that project in the mail itself. Also, I sent the bulk of my mails after November. By then, I had been selected for the ACM ICPC regionals and I also wrote that on my CV and the mail and I think that really helped.
My work was related to networks and algorithms. There was some hardware stuff and some algorithms to implement. It mainly involved a lot of reading research papers and discussing with the professor what might work and what might not work.
I used to work as much as I wanted; there was no such pressure. The weekends were off. I used to go there at 10 AM and used to come back by 6-7 PM. Sometimes I used to leave early at around 3-4 PM. I remember I once pulled an all-nighter because I was making consecutive progress. Usually, it’s totally up to you when you want to work and the prof doesn’t push any deadline on you
On the first day, I met my supervisor and he told me to take 2-3 days to get all the admin work done. I just went around the university and bought some stuff for my apartment. I didn’t meet a lot of people on my first day but on the second day, I met my co-interns. As it turned out, most of them were IITians.
I mostly worked with a masters student and that was pretty cool. My supervisor was quite informal. There were a lot of resources for everything and everyone was really involved with the project. I worked with a lot of international students as well. I worked with a Chinese group and their accent was pretty hard for me to understand (and it took me a lot of time to get used to it).
I had sub-leased an apartment. There was a guy who lived here but was away for the summer so I stayed at his place. I had a roommate who was doing his masters. The place had all the facilities one needs like a washing machine, a supermarket nearby and there even was an Indian market. It’s very easy to find accommodation, at least in the US.
Purdue University is located inside a small college town of which thirty per cent are Indians. So there was a lot of Hindi there and there was not much of a cultural shock.
One particular experience comes to my mind. I went to see a movie there and I had the ticket but there was no seat number on it. I wasted a lot of time looking for my seat and finally had to ask someone around, who told me that it’s first come first serve. I ended up getting a pretty bad seat that day.
Places I Visited:
I went to Chicago since it’s nearby and that was a pretty cool experience. I had a lot of pizza there and it was amazing. One day I went skydiving with a friend and that too was very cool. There were a couple of fairs. I also went to Seattle to visit my relatives.
The project was pretty cool but it made me realize that I would like something more fast-paced. I looked at the life of the masters’ students around and I found that it was kind of slow so I would prefer to go into Research and Development and not strictly into research as a long-term career plan. This was a pretty major realization for me.
I wasn’t able to complete all the objectives of my project. I did achieve particular checkpoints but I wish I had gone the entire way. And I probably should have gone out more on weekends.
Article By: Aryan Agarwal