A first hand account of a student’s dilemmas and fights to grab an internship in a prestigious institution, DRDO. Shekhar shares how he decided to go on his own and also shares with us the perfect cover letter that helped him land the internship, in his own words.
About Author: Shekhar Jain is a student of M.Sc Electronics and did his graduation from Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University. He has a strong interest in spreading information and is passionate about different aspects of Material Sciences. He aims to become a teacher in future or a social worker. In his own words, “Rest depends upon God.”
For all of us in our college, the real hunt for internship began in January. We started bugging our seniors to provide us with valuable contacts and necessary tips to help us grab our coveted internships. As usual, the seniors were at their usual bests and they motivated us and helped us with many important tips (like forwarding CV to different companies, search Internet for contacts/mail-ids and etc.). But nothing concrete was coming out of the conversations except gentle pats on our backs and the ever-green divine set of words from the seniors that “Don’t worry bro. Ho jayega”. Time was running out really fast and it was already mid February. Even then, we had no clue what we were going to do. So I decided to go my own way and after thinking for a while I decided to approach companies/professors by mailing them individually. So, when I sat down to do exactly that I realized that the first thing required was a decent cover letter and a CV as an attachment. After some initial hiccups, I finally managed to write a cover letter and a CV and sent it to my friend Niharika for a review. This was necessary since I wanted those to be as error-free as possible and to make sure that all the things were written well. Luckily, she found many mistakes and did required editing for me. After few exchanges of mails I had my CV with very few errors and a decent looking cover letter as well.
I must mention that without her tedious editing efforts, the job would have been tougher for me. For example, in my original cover letter I started with a ‘Hello Sir’. Niharika changed it to ‘Respected Sir’. Similarly at many places punctuation errors and more effective words were used by her. No big edits, but these small changes can work wonders, as actually happened with me.
After I finalized my CV and the cover letter, came the toughest phase of the entire process of applying for the internship. I had to get contacts, mail-IDs of professors, HODs and details of places where I can apply for my work. I had a strong interest for a research related internship, which I knew would give me a better perspective for my PhD or my teaching career in the future. Google, as always, came to the rescue. I looked into every Research Institute’s website and collected email-IDs.
I knew the time had come for me to act as level headed and matured as I could be. Because even a tiny mistake during the process of mailing the professors/HODs/institute contacts will cost me big in terms of my career. I never mailed my contacts right after scooping them out of the internet. I had to judge its validity and, in turn, its importance to me. I also took precaution to save myself from unexpected accidents of mailing a single person more then once. The last thing I wanted was to spam my potential employers. I chose a day to mail all of them at once and did so. This apparently-simple thing took at least two three weeks to complete.
Things were not much brighter preliminarily, as I was repeatedly getting negative replies. I reached a point when I decided to compromise it all and settle for something else. The very next day I received a mail from SSPL saying that I have been selected for interning with them.
I accept that I was really lucky with the selection in SSPL. Getting into SSPL or any other laboratory of DRDO is not as easy as it may sound here. One has to be really good and impressive, with his communication skills as well as the academia for getting a chance in DRDO.
I realized later that the single thing which got me this internship was my habit of not quitting in any circumstances. Perseverance and trusting my own abilities paid. In the end, I got to spend quality time at SSPL and also did a project titled “CNT and Graphene: Growth and Characterization”.
For all those who are in similar situation as I was last year, I wish you all the best and would urge you not to quit. I am also attaching the cover letter that got me in SSPL – hope this helps. Please don’t copy paste it blindly – rather understand how one should write an effective cover letter without any jargon and general vagueness. Remember relevance is the key.
I am currently doing my M.Sc. in Electronics under Delhi University. I completed my graduation from Sri Venkateswara College, which is under Delhi University as well, with an aggregate of 74 percent marks.
I have a simple query: Is it possible for me to carry out some quality work as a part of my Summer Internship in your prestigious R&D laboratory?
The area of my interest is ‘Semiconductor’ and my future research pursuits will be in the same field. I have also done an add-on course in Nanotechnology, during my graduation. In the future, I would like to carry out research in this field and possibly use my skills to disseminate my fair share of knowledge to others.
In this aspect, you should know that I was a part of an experiment to observe and analyze the scientific aspects related to solar eclipses during the total solar eclipse of 22nd July, 2009. The experiment which we performed during the eclipse consisted of recording the variation of light intensity with time with the help of an improvised device consisting of LDR (Light Dependent Resistance). In another similar experiment, I was able to record shadow bands (Shadow bands is a phenomenon which occurs just few minutes before totality and after totality during the eclipse. In this phenomenon some bands of variable thickness, from few centimeters to few millimeters can be observed on floor and walls), which was done by a setup of a camera recording the changes which occurred over a white sheet where the sun’s light was falling. Our group was one of the three groups who were able to record the shadow bands.
A complete report on our solar eclipse experimentation was covered by Dr R. Ramachandran, Chief Science Editor of ‘Frontline’ magazine. Dr. Ramachandran himself is an NSTS Scholar and a PhD in Theoretical Physics from TIFR. The article can be seen here: http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2618/stories/20090911261804100.htm
The most interesting part in our whole experiment was that the whole group devised their instruments on their own by using available resources like easily available household products. We also gave successful presentations of the experimentation in three different well-known colleges in and around Delhi.
Thanks for your precious time. For your kind perusal, I have enclosed my curriculum vitae with this letter. I’m looking forward to hear from you soon.
[Brief CV. Please find the attachment.]