Daily Winner for: – 25th August 2013
Name of the intern: – Jibin Rajan Varghese
Institute: – NIT Calicut
Organization interned with: – Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
How to Get an Internship You Didn’t Apply For!
“Oh how I wish I could’ve recorded that call” I told my bewildered mother that day.
This is a true story.
My tryst with the internship frenzy began around February when I first edited my Resume.
“Hmm.. Jibin Rajan.. Third year, Mech. CGPA: 8.7. Fully funded internship in First Year. Two research papers in the pipeline. One on-going patent with the TIFAC. Five robotics projects. ROBOCON Automatic Bot Operator of NIT-C Kerala’s Debut Team and one of the founding members of Robotics Interest Group (RIG), NIT-Calicut.”
I felt getting a third year internship should be rather easy.
By March, I had applied to over 20 companies and 12 different universities. My professors sent tons of reference letters to automated mailboxes of Cambridge, Carnegie Mellon, CalTech and the IITs . I used to browse through Internshala, and applied “for every possible internship” that popped up in my area. Countless online forms were filled and submitted. However 50 unresponded emails, and 25 CV variants later, I realized that this was going nowhere. Then sweetly written “Go to hell” letters from foreign universities started arriving as deadlines crossed. I felt hopeless and lost, so I returned to the stuff that I enjoyed doing – Robotics.
I thought I’ll stay in campus and work on Robotics @ RIG.
Robotics >> Swarm Robotics >> Multi-Nodal Swarming Algorithms >> Glowworm Swarm Optimization (well that seemed fun!).
In the ‘desp’est phase of my life, I eventually sent a mail to a professor at IISc, Bangalore regarding help in developing his GSO algorithm for robot-assisted search and rescue, just to while away my free time without keeping my mind empty. No response. In the meanwhile I desperately applied to various random companies in Oil and Gas, Machine Tools, Marketing rand Management as well. No Response there either.
By April, chances of getting an internship seemed as remote to me as breathing on Saturn. My parents advised me to look for GATE coaching in Hyderabad, or paid internships in places like GD Naidu, or BPCL, NTPC etc. I hated the idea.
It was a routine afternoon on May 6th (I still remember that date!) when my make-up examinations finally got over. I wasn’t expecting anything particular. I packed my bags, unsure of what to take on an unsure summer vacation. The melancholy atmosphere made me reflect back on my three years of B. Tech life. Still, as far as my B. Tech life goes, most good things are out of the ordinary. Just the right cards weren’t showing up this time. I wondered why..
“Hello, am I speaking to Jibin Rajan?”
“This is Ghose speaking”
Which Ghose? I thought.
“I’m Professor Debashish Ghose, Chairman of IISc Aerospace, and I have an offer for you in Swarm Optimization Algorithms. I read your mail about a month ago. Would you like to work with us?”
I was speechless for a minute.
“I was particularly intrigued by your application of the Swarm Algorithm. In fact, Rescue robotics is a field that’s still in its infancy. I was thinking we could develop it together…I can cover your food and lodging expenses. Why not come over to IISc and let’s work on it? ”
This was the foremost authority on Swarm Robotics in India, speaking to me! Debashish Ghose was the scientist who proposed Glowworm Swarm Algorithm in 2005…The very same professor whom I had mailed for guidance to while away my free time. Four months of sending internship applications had yielded no result and here was this fantastic man, offering me an internship that I hadn’t even applied for! My joy knew no bounds.
I packed my luggage for Bangalore on 15th May.
“Oh how I wish I could have recorded that call” I told my bewildered mother that day.
True to his word, I did end up having the best time of my life at IISc Bangalore. There were two other interns Madhushree (Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago) and Rachana (PESIT, Bangalore) and an assistant professor, Ashwini sir, also on our team.
My work involved developing strategies for using quad-copters to autonomously search disaster zones for survivors, whom then rescue teams can directly locate and extract rather than spend time searching for. I converted my ideas to code, amidst cups of coffee and Good Day biscuits and wonderful company. Even now, Rachana, Madhushree and I still keep in touch. I have an open invitation to continue this work further. I was paid 8000 rupees per month as stipend.
The relevance of this project has had a deeper impact on me, following the recent 2013 Kedarnath floods. I believe that one day Robots would assist humans in equal capability to survive disasters. My work would lay down the mathematical foundations to that end.
“Just when the caterpillar thought its world would end, it became a butterfly!”
These lines have struck a chord somewhere deep in me. I think it’s a message for every internship aspirant out there, too. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, or how much effort we put, things don’t go our way, even when everything reasonably suggests that they should. Then we can be sure, that God is out there, planning something bigger for us, and that’s just why our plans aren’t working. He is beyond infinity, beyond our reason, and beyond any amount of thanks we can give him.
Trust me, this is how you get an internship you never applied for!
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