Internship at University of Southern California — Shruti Tripathi from IIT Ropar

Daily Winner for: –  31st July 2012

Name of the intern: –  Shruti Tripathi

Institute: –  IIT Ropar

Organization interned with: –  University of Southern California

Here is my very own fairytale, complete with a princess, some villains and a happy ending!

Once upon a time there lived a beautiful princess, Shruti (yup! that’s me). She was blessed with all things good and beautiful, a good college (IIT Ropar), a good CGPA (9.36, then!) and lots of opportunities. She was in the prime of her life, her sixth semester, and like every other prince and princess on earth, was busy with her internship applications and interviews.

Each morning she woke up to a new challenge, a new interview or a new application! But she was one of those who loved their life. She took all challenges in her stride and always learned a thing or two from the failures. She got through three of the four rounds in the campus internship recruitment of Microsoft, but could not go further. She got through the HR round of interviews at Goldman Sachs, but again could not go further. The reasons for these failures were not unknown to her and she tried learning from her mistakes. However, the reason behind her smile was the faith that something extremely good was waiting for her on the other side. Something that would make these failures seem necessary.

And one fine morning, when she got up and checked her college’s webmail, she was taken by utter surprise when she saw a beautiful email perched gracefully in her Inbox from none other than the Indo – US Science and Technology Forum! By the time she read the whole thing, her heart was already dancing in joy as she had been selected for the prestigious Viterbi – India program, wherein she would get to spend eight precious weeks of her life in the far far land of the United States of America (with a decent stipend!). She was invited to the kingdom of the University of Southern California (USC) to undertake summer internship at the esteemed Interaction Lab (part of the Robotics Department) under the supervision of none other than her highness, her majesty, Professor Maja Mataric, pioneer in the field of socially assistive robotics. All her sleepless nights (completing the application, writing the SOP, running behind professors for recommendations) had finally borne fruit and her application was chosen from among the flood of applications for this program. Her joy knew no bounds!

When she broke this news to the rest of her kingdom, every nook and corner of it was alight in celebration. Her father, the King took her on shopping sprees and her mother, the Queen packed everything, big or small that would be necessary for the survival of the princess in the far far land. Her little sister, Princess number 2 was just too excited to help with anything. With the help of the excellent communication platforms, Gmail and Facebook, the princess came to know that there were twelve other princes and princesses selected from nearby kingdoms to accompany her to the far far land. The princess had also communicated with some officials of the kingdom of USC and they were looking forward to having the princess there.

However, fate had some other plans. One day the princess received a form from the kingdom of USC which was proof that they wanted the princess there. But, alas! The form had some incorrect information on it related to the princess. The princess had all this while ignored the wrathful visa interviewers as she was too simple to judge the gravity of the situation. That form was the most powerful weapon the princess had against the interviewers. But now since the weapon was defective, the future of the princess seemed doomed. The princess had already chosen the visa interview date thinking that the weapon was strong but now things were shaky. The princess contacted the Kingdom of USC for help and they promised to extend their full support. They were going to remake the weapon and resend it. However, this would take time and time was a precious thing! The princess spent most of her remaining days weeping and cursing fate. One day she got the pleasant news that the weapon had been remade and it was on its way to her kingdom. Just when she thought happy days were returning, she was told by the transit service Fedex that they had lost the weapon on its way.

The last of her hopes died! However, she still believed in the power of prayer and told God that she would accept whatever he had in store for her. But God was playing his own games. With only four days remaining for the visa interview, the Fedex office told the princess that they had placed the weapon and with two days remaining, the weapon reached the princess. To cut a long story short, the princess attacked the interviewers with her new weapon and she successfully got her visa stamped! The rest, as they say, is history. She left her kingdom teary-eyed and worried about what was in store for her at the far far land. However, the first relief came when she met the other princes and princesses who, along with her, were the chosen thirteen. Each and every one of them was unique. She could tell that all of them were as scared as she was, but something about them told her that together they’d form a fun gang.

And together they did the journey to the other end of the globe. The far far land could just not be explained in words! It was so different from the neighbourhood the princess was used to. The people there looked different, dressed differently, ate different food and spoke in a familiar but heavily accented language. The princess was amused with everything that caught her eye. The chosen thirteen also visited the Kingdom of USC and they were highly pleased. The princess visited her lab and was greeted by a whole bunch of excited labmates. She could tell that they were as amused by her as she was by them. The princess roamed about in her lab and saw things that she had only dreamed about: humanoid robots!

The princess was now extremely excited to start work. The princess also met her advisor, his highness, Dr. Amin Atrash. Amin was a post-doc researcher in the lab and he happened to be the sweetest person the princess had met in ages. They chatted happily about the kingdom and the lab and the princess’ job. It was all so good! Some of the initial days at the far far land were difficult for the princess; she had to cook her own food, clean her own clothes and make her own bed, things that she had never done in her kingdom. However, thinking back at those things, the princess thought that they were necessary to let her grow as a human being.

The princess took a couple of days settling down in the new environment, but once done, plunged head-first into her work. She liked the work that Amin asked her to do in the lab, and he was also satisfied with the output. She was assigned her favorite task of coding and she did it happily. Luckily the code was also producing desirable results! However, the most interesting part was the bonding the princess made with the twelve other princes and princesses while in the far far land. All of them had one thing in common, they were miles away from their homes, and all of them knew that they had the other for support in the unknown land. Together they cooked, together they laughed and together they had the time of their life. They visited new and interesting places in the far far land like Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Hollywood, Disneyland and what not! Simply put, they transformed from thirteen strangers into a fun gang of friends!

So much was the bonding that by the time the eight weeks ended, the princess did not want to leave. She had started loving everything, the atmosphere, her lab, her labmates and her fun gang! She had even started loving the bad food she cooked every morning. She loved the code she wrote, because as Amin said, it was totally in sync with the needs of the lab. It was giving good results. Leaving the code behind was like leaving a part of her in the far far land.

But the laws of nature prevail even in lands far away. People meet only to depart again. And the princess did her last journey with the chosen thirteen back to her kingdom. She returned with tears in her eyes, a smile on her lips and a bag full of sweet memories of a time well spent. Truly, the summer of 2012 was a summer to remember!

Was this interesting? If yes, please like the post on Facebook (below) and help Shruti become winner of the week and win the prize (Rs. 1,000/-) that she truly deserves!


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