Best things come in most unexpected ways. Shaunak made best of each moment that he was offered there. He didn’t limit himself just till surroundings but went far away and explored each place with his gang. Just keep working hard and don’t leave any stone unturned. Success is on your way!
When I applied for the Winter Research Program at the University of Queensland (UQ), I didn’t have the faintest idea what my summer would entail. But in the second week of May 2015, I opened my gmail at almost 2 AM, and voila– The Letter of Acceptance! And my life changed in one click.
Yes, I had prior experience of an internship at a prestigious university, having been a research fellow at the Indian Institute of Science last summer. But this was even better than I had dreamt. I had a stopover at Bangkok of about 6 hours, and wasn’t exactly very fresh when the car sent by the University picked me up from the Brisbane International Airport, all the way to our accommodation inside the campus. But after that, it was an absolute joyride. I had been selected to work at the Centre for Advanced Imaging (CAI), at the UQ. Now, my forte has essentially been Theoretical Computer Science, but I really wanted to explore this incredibly developing branch. And if it comes with a cool stipend at one of the top universities in the world, why not? So I started work on my assigned project – The Computational Spectroscopy of Brain Metabolites, and it was indeed very interesting – all the work being done on the Linux/Unix platform, it was almost up my alley. I familiarized myself with some very powerful software such as ParaVision, Sparky, ASAP, etc. as I had to analyze and process the spectra generated from basis sets obtained from real-life processes and chemicals, and design intelligent algorithms to implement the same using the aforementioned items.
Thankfully, I had the opportunity of having one of the brightest minds of the University, Dr. Tesiram, to guide me. Along with one of my co-interns Aish, we progressed gracefully on our research project. Work was exhausting, but when we left our workstation every evening and strung down the elevator, we always felt a sense of pride in working for this prestigious centre.
Brisbane is a myriad city filled with surprises, and we had the pleasure of experiencing that first-hand. We had formed a ragtag group of research scholars from India and other countries, and we explored the city in all its magnificence – from the glittering lights of Adelaide Street, to the serenity of Mount Coot-tha to the amazing wildlife at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and much much more. We even had the distinct pleasure of participating in Liverpool FC’s new kit launch event at King George’s Square (well, I’m a Manchester United fan, so I had particularly mixed emotions). We even travelled to the Gold Coast beach for one amazing weekend – that will rival no other. Needless to say, we tasted out some of the most unique food one could find – blame the stipend! During the fourth week of my stay, It was a very pleasant surprise when I received a mail that I, along with some of my co-scholars, had been invited to some sessions at Google Australia. The experiences throughout that day, needless to say, were legendary – being in the company of so many gifted people was gratifying.
As I finished my final project presentation in front of the entire staff at the CAI to ringing applause, I felt a sense of accomplishment – not only the certificate, but the fact that our work was very fruitful and could yet be converted into a publication. As I pause and reflect upon my writing now on the laptop screen, I reminisce upon those 6 weeks – yes, goodbyes were tough, but in the end, it was all worth it. Between work, fun and people, it was indeed an incredible internship. I definitely would look forward to coming here in the future for further studies, if I’m again given the opportunity. To all the aspirants reading this, I have only one advice to give you. Erm, actually two.
Work hard, and never ever lose hope. I didn’t.
If Shaunak’s experience motivates you, you can check the latest international internships.
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