Y16 EE graduate Saumya Shah writes about his research internship experience in Computer-Human Interaction in Learning and Instruction (CHILI) Lab in Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland. He gives insightful points about the EFPL program, and shares useful do's and don'ts for the whole process from apping to benefits and further utilization plans.
Hello,I am Saumya Shah. I graduated from IITK in 2020 from the Electrical Engineering Department. I interned at the Computer-Human Interaction In Learning And Instruction (CHILI) lab at EPFL in 2019 under the [email protected] program and pursued a semester exchange program there in the subsequent semester. I am here to describe my experience for my [email protected] internship, starting from the application process to the work done during the internship.
I would like to start by first giving a brief overview of the program and the eligibility criteria. [email protected] is a 2-3 months research internship program that provides students a fellowship to work at one of the labs at EPFL. Quoting from their website, “Fellowships are awarded to students enrolled in BSc, BTech, MSc, MTech, or equivalent programs in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Telecommunications, or Electrical Engineering”. Also, one must have completed their first year of Bachelor’s to be eligible to apply.
How did you come to know of the internship?
I took the help of my seniors and batch mates to ask about information related to research internships. I found the list of programs on the website of the Office of International Relations to be quite helpful. There are also a lot of resources online describing various research internship opportunities. This sheet, created by the Academics and Career Council, IITK contains a list of internship programs along with the relevant details. It wasn’t there during my time but I think it covers a lot of programs.
What was the application procedure?
The students were required to submit their applications on EPFL’s portal. The application consists of submitting a Letter of Motivation, CV, and transcripts, along with choosing 3 professors with whom you would like to work with. Unlike many other research internship programs, this program does not require submitting Letters of Recommendation.
Various stages of screening
This can vary a lot depending on your role and the lab that is considering you for the internship. In my case, I had an interview with a researcher who was working at the lab and who would eventually be the mentor for my project. She asked a few questions related to the projects that I had worked on and enquired about my interests and future goals. In the end, I asked her about some of the projects at the lab that I found interesting, and she was kind enough to thoroughly explain those things in great detail. A few days after the interview, I got an email from EPFL saying that I was selected!
Your preparation strategy
There are no hard criteria or number that is required for selection for this program. One should focus on developing a good overall profile in their field of interest. This includes maintaining a good CPI, contributing towards a publication, and working on interesting projects. Though I did not have all of these things in my application, I worked with having this mindset of having a good overall profile, which I believe was quite helpful in my selection for this program.
Overall Experience of the process
The overall experience of the whole process was good. The process was conducted smoothly, the interviewer was friendly and cleared up some of my misunderstandings. After my selection, they helped me with my travel, accommodation, and visa procedures, which helped me a lot in planning my journey and stay.
Benefits and how do you plan to utilize the internships
The internship provided me with good hands-on experience working on a research project in my field of interest. I contributed to a project aimed at diagnosing dysgraphia using handwriting data from a consumer tablet. It was a satisfying project to work on, where I felt that I was using my technical skills to improve the lives of people. My mentors were supportive and friendly, helping me whenever I was stuck or had any questions.
The positive experience during the summers motivated me to further explore my interests. It increased my understanding and helped me to better contribute to the future projects that I worked on. In fact, to continue the work that I had done during my internship, I applied and was selected for a semester exchange at EPFL for the subsequent semester.
I also cherish the interactions that I had with students from all around the world. It opened my eyes to different cultures and allowed me to see things from a different perspective. Switzerland and France are great places to travel, and we spent a few weekends exploring these places. These aspects along with the work that I did made my internship quite exciting and fun.
Your message to the applicants, any other information you wish to provide
The selection process is quite competitive, so do not get disheartened if you are not able to make it. It is important to give your best from your end and learn from your mistakes. Feel free to drop me an email at [email protected] or contact me on LinkedIn or Facebook if you have any questions about my internship experience. If you want to know more about me, you can check out my homepage.
Written by: Saumya Shah
Edited by: Kalash Talati (Y20, Secretary of Research Wing)