About the Author: Jayadarshini from College of Engineering, Guindy, shares how she managed to get a DAAD internship at Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany.
I was jubilant when I received confirmation of acceptance into the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch-Dienst – Working Internship in Science and Engineering (DAAD-WISE) at L3S Research Center in Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany. DAAD-WISE is one of the most coveted internships. It provides 2-3 months internship opportunity at institutions of higher education and research institutes in Germany.
The application procedure is quite tiresome:
1. Get all necessary documents from home institution like No Objection Certificate, Letters of Recommendation, etc.
2. Start mailing German professors (I emailed around 40) with a proper Letter of Motivation and resume by the end of July.
3. After getting accepted by the professor, apply for DAAD stipend with relevant forms filled, as per the requirements mentioned on their website before the last week of November.
4. After DAAD’s acceptance, apply for a visa and finish the visa interview at least one month prior to your departure.
5. Start looking out for an accommodation and people who are doing an internship in the same college, so that you can have friends with whom you can travel around Europe on the weekends. :)
I approached two professors with whom I had a good rapport, asked them for recommendation letters, filled the NOC, and got it signed from my institute. Then, I searched for professors from TU9 universities with the same research interest as mine and sent them customised emails citing the contributions I could make to their research fields. In the Letter of Motivation, I stated why I wanted to intern in Germany and how my acquired knowledge could be of use for their research. I was accepted by three professors, and so had to narrow it down to the one whose research work had appealed to me the most. The DAAD processes were time-consuming; they involved filling numerous online forms and posting the hard copy to DAAD’s head office. When the DAAD results were declared, I was on cloud nine as I was selected and my hard work had paid off.
The main elements which the DAAD and the German professors look for in your application are:
1. Exceptional CGPA (9.3+)
2. Previous internship experiences (advisable to do internship in 2nd year)
3. Academic achievements (like winning any academic events)
4. Projects reflecting interest in research
5. Extracurricular activities
6. Good English knowledge (in Letter of Motivation, cover letter, resume, etc.)
DAAD stipend will offer you the following:
• A monthly scholarship of 650 euros for undergraduate students (the monthly installment will be calculated on a daily basis, i.e. 21.70 euros per day)
• A lump sum travel subsidy of 525 euros
• Payments towards health, accident, and personal liability insurance covered by DAAD
• Participation in a meeting of DAAD scholarship-holders in Germany (optional)
As far as my project is concerned, I had to work under a professor (Dr. Stefan Dietze) at the L3S Research Center. The internship introduced me to the world of Data Analytics. My project Analysing Event Markup on the web was concerned with the analysis of a large web crawl of markup data, in particular, the schema.org annotation of events. On my first day, I was assigned a Ph.D. mentor (Ms. Ran Yu) and was given a bunch of research papers that I had to read to understand about my project and do a bit of background research. This was my first week’s job. Then in the next few weeks, I had to code for the research questions we had been working on. Though daunting at first, with the guidance of my mentor, I soon started loving my project and as days went by, working on it became easygoing and intriguing.
Interning in Deutschland was a great experience. These two months changed my entire perspective of academics and directed my interest towards research. I got hands-on experiences on new programming languages, writing papers, server usage, and the concept of efficient coding. Additionally, the working hours there were so flexible and nobody monitored the interns or fixed a rigid time schedule for them. Though I stayed late sometimes when I had pending work, it helped me take leave on days when I had finished my work early. As Albert Einstein rightly said “Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience”, the practical experience I gained from my internship boosted my interest towards research and made me experiment and master many new techniques in the field of computer science.
Also, mostly everyone in Germany speaks only German, plus all the signboards there are in German (except in academic institutions), so learning a bit of German is advisable. Vegetarian options are limited too, and so if you are a vegetarian, you have to cook your own food. Other than just academics, I became more evolved as an adult and broadened my horizons as I had to independently cook, clean, buy groceries, and travel. I made some amazing friends – co-interns from India as well as tons of Germans, and other foreign interns at my lab. My landlady, Mrs. Tanzel, was really warm and friendly and had the loveliest dog, Elanie. She even offered to pick me up from the airport and invited me to coffee and cakes for her birthday. Since summer there is very cool (7 C-28 C) compared to India, this internship also helped me escape the summer heat. The Schengen Visa, through which I went, allowed me to visit 23 countries in Europe (Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Austria, Italy, Switzerland included) without any restrictions. I made a lot of cherishable memories traveling to other cities in Europe and within Germany as well.
Even if you are not selected by DAAD but have been accepted by a German prof, you can ask your professor to host your visit. If not, you can visit at your own expense, because I feel this is too good an opportunity to miss, especially for people who aspire to do masters. I would like to thank my family, teachers, and friends for standing by me and helping me achieve my dream internship. I am more than happy to help any candidates who are interested to apply for DAAD.
Editor’s note – If you also have an interesting story to share, you can now participate in Your Internship Story Contest 2017 and win cash prizes and goodies worth INR 1 Lac!