For a student, internship or training matter a lot in the shaping of their career. He/She gets the opportunity to learn many things during their internships. Getting an internship opportunity in a foreign institution is the new craze among students. Almost everyone is putting his efforts to bag an FT. But many students aren't aware of the fundamentals of this and don't know what to do and how to do. To help such students, Awaaz, IIT Kharagpur brings to you this article which will hopefully cater to your needs.
What is a Foreign Training?
As the name suggests, Foreign Training is people going abroad for research or internships in the second or third year of their UG/PG course.
Importance of FT:
People get exposure to new culture.
People who work in this new atmosphere seek more than just employment out of their work. This accounts for a lot of development in not just technical terms but in social terms too.
People get a different and new experience which is very beneficial when they return back to India.
Portfolio gets an edge over others portfolio which accounts for a better respected social as well as financial status.
An FT in itself does nothing to improve one's CV greatly. What actually matters is the quality research work carried out by yourself because it is the dedicated research work done during that internship which will determine the kind of recommendation letter from the respective professor. Remember, your work will do the talking not one or two lines mentioned in your CV.
What is the right time to begin?
Generally, August-September is the most appropriate time to start applying for foreign training. Most of the universities start accepting applications regarding their foreign training programs during this time.
How should I begin?
The basic thing is that you should have an awareness about your interests regardless of your stream/department .Past projects that you did during your vacations can help you finding your area of interest and also will help during foreign training.
Once you know your interest, you can start searching for the universities that offer such training. You can look up to the world rankings like times of higher education and QS World Rankings for choosing the best possible option.
After shortlisting of the universities, go to their homepage and check out the projects and internships that you are eligible for.
Now one should shortlist the faculty whose work interests you by looking at their research work and recent publications.
Prefer those faculties who have a past experience with IIT students as their research project.
To have an extra edge over others, you should do a related project under a professor in your college.
Eligibilities for different streams
Eligibility criteria for different streams and different foreign universities are different.
In general, a good CGPA (above 8.0) will work.
Institutions and companies to look for
We have sorted out few of the available internships year wise with their eligibility criteria and the stipend offered:-
Post First Year during the summer holiday
The opportunities are minimal during this time as most foreign institutions prefer students with more knowledge.
But still If you are eager, few student exchange programmes through international organization like AISEC are available that can help you in social internship abroad.
But the suggestion is that, the break after the first year should be utilised more in learning new skills that interests you.
Post Second Year during the summer holidays
There are no such programs
Post third year during the summer holidays
This is the period in which you can avail maximum internships opportunities. There are many such programs run with collaboration of governments of different countries with the Indian Government for funding of the students going abroad. Few of them are :-
Students can join the Globalink program to work under a Canadian professor from a list of total 30+ universities.
They start accepting applications from mid-August itself.
CGPA of 8 or above.
200$ every week.
Further details can be found on their website: Inspiring innovation in Canada.
Stipend:- CHF 5500+travel + accommodation + living cost.
Further details can be found on their website: Job Opportunities for Students
This provides an opportunity for students to research in a German University.
CGPA of 8.5 or above ,enrolled in 5th or 6th semester(for bachelor's degree) and 5th or 6th or 7th or 8th semester(for dual degree courses )
Stipend:- 650 Euros
Further details can be found on their website: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
Here are some of the universities with their links in which an Indian student has a better chance of getting the research internship
Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics: http://www.ie-freiburg.mpg.de/
Max Planck Institute for Software Systems:https://www.mpi-sws.org/index.php
Inria, France: https://www.inria.fr/en/
ETH Zurich, ETH Zurich - Homepage
University of Geneva,International - International - UNIGE
University of Bern, Bachelor l Master l PhD l Research
Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne (EPFL): https://www.epfl.ch/
European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN): https://home.cern/
Central College of Lille (Ecole Centrale de Lille), Page on www.ec-lille.fr
Ecole normale superieure,Acole normale supAcrieure - Paris
University Pierre et Marie Curie, UPMC - University Pierre and Marie CURIE - Sciences and Medicine - Paris
Ghent University, Ghent, www.ugent.be/en/
KU Leuven, Leuven, www.kuleuven.be/english/
University of Liege, Liege, Université de Liège - Portail - Accueil - Accueil
Universiteit Antwerpen, AntwerpUAntwerp - University of Antwerp
HoGent, Ghent, english.hogent.be
Imperial College, London
University of Liverpool
John Innes Centre, The Sainsbury Laboratory and The Genome Analysis Centre:
University of Glasgow, Scotland
Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant
Georgia State University, Atlanta
Michigan State University, East Lansing
Northwestern University, Chicago
Northwestern University, Evanston
Penn State University, Pennsylvania, PSU Homepage | Penn State University
Troy University, Alabama
UC Berkeley, BerkeleyUC Berkeley, Berkeley
University of Alabama
University of Arizona
University of Arkansas
University of Houston
University of Idaho
University of Iowa
University of Southern California
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Carnegie Mellon University
University of Notre Dame
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL)
University Of California
Lunar Planetary Institute
Space Telescope Science Institute (STCSI)
University of Toronto
University of Alberta
University of British Columbia
University of Saskatchewan
Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Toronto
Lomonosov Moscow State University
Saint-Petersburg State University
Nanyang Technology University, Singapore
Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore
Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (TLL)
National Chiao Tung University
National Tsing Hua University
Industrial Technology Research
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST)
University of Tokyo
University of Queensland:
Weizmann Institute Of Science, Israel
International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE)
S.N. Bose Scholar’s Program
Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) (Spain)
Low/Average CGPA pals (CGPA<8)
You might have noticed that most of these opportunities demand a high CGPA of 8 and above to even be considered for available positions. Does it imply that students with CGPA less than 8 can't avail a foreign internship? Well, surely not the ones which have explicit cut-offs listed. But, you do have opportunities at par with them. The only eligibility criterion is your passion and your primary motive.
What do you require?
An impressive Curriculum Vitae/Resume highlighting your interests in the specific field
One important thing you should know that FT includes a large number of fields. If you have interest in other fields then you can go for training in that particular field also. Department restriction is not there
Exact process (step by step)
Before you begin to start applying for foreign internships, please remember that it is a very demanding and grueling task. Be prepared to put in lots of hours and hard work on creating your resume, shortlisting universities, emailing the professors, reading their research papers, visa process etc. This is by no means a simple task and requires lots of dedication and patience.
We have outlined a 3-step process towards finding that perfect internship with full funding and visa sponsorship. This process can also be used for landing a final year engineering project abroad with full funding.
Step 1: Research and shortlist
Step 2: Resume and cover letter
Step 3: Email, email, and email
Step 1:Research and shortlist:
Step 2: Resume and cover letter
The first step towards finding the perfect internship is to come up with a list of universities where you would like to do your internship. It is highly important that you choose a university that suits your background. Top institutions typically expect students with good grades and from prestigious undergraduate institutions in India such as the IITs, NITs, BITs etc. So, choose a university that you believe suits your academic qualifications. You can use tools such as USNews, TopUniversities for this purpose. Try shortlisting at least 20-30 universities for a start. Now, based on your field of interest, go to each university’s respective departments and look for profiles of professors in that department. Each departmental website will have a list of professors names, their webpages, profile, and publications. Go over the details carefully and make a list of professors whose research work aligns with your interests the most. Once you have a list of professors whose research work aligns with your interests, you are ready for step 2. Make a sheet like this:
Once you have a list of professors with whom you would like to work for the summer, take some time to really learn about their work. Each professor's webpage will have a short paragraph about their current research interests and a list of publications. You obviously can’t read each and every journal publication. Therefore, read publications that are their most popular or jump started their career. Such papers typically come with plenty of citations. You can find all this information in Pubmed and Google Scholar. Once you have these papers in hand, read them thoroughly to understand how the professor and his team solved the problem. If you have a few questions, jot them down. You can also ask for help from your departmental professors to clarify some of your questions regarding the paper. Once you understand what kind of work these professors are doing, start focusing on developing your resume and cover letter.
For tips on writing an impressive resume, please use this link to get some insights on writing resume -
When it comes to writing the perfect resume, please remember that no one size fits all. Sometimes it is perfectly okay to have a resume that is more than one page long unless and until there are specific instructions stated in the professor's website on how long a resume should be. For more inspiration on writing an impressive resume, please look around in Linkedin as well. This will give you some good ideas on how to go about formulating sentences for describing your work and many other things. If you are a CS student, go ahead and create your resume in LaTeX for added punch. If you want to go really out of the way, start a website of your own and write about your research experiences, things that you learnt in college, useful tips like efficient code examples that you wrote etc. This will help immensely when it comes to landing a full time job after college or graduate school. Also, make sure to create your linkedin profile and include the link in your CV.
Once your resume is ready, start preparing your cover letter. One word of caution here is that professors are extremely busy individuals. Some professors get hundreds of emails a day. If you are going to create your cover letter and attach it as a doc, it is only adding more trouble for the professor to download the doc and then read it. Instead of creating a separate cover letter, type everything in the main email itself and attach your resume with the email. This is the quickest way to catch the attention of busy professors. Now, coming back to the contents of the cover letter, keep it short. Again, as mentioned before, professors are very busy people. If you want them to sit up and take notice of your email, keep it succinct and short. Cover letter should reflect your interest in the professor’s work. Mention your CGPA. Department Rank and projects. Following is an example,
Dear Professor X,
I am X, a sophomore/junior* student from XYZ University in India majoring in Computer Science/Biomedical/ECE.
I have been following your research papers for the past few months and I find the way your team solved [explain what you have understood from the professor’s publications] very interesting. I am presently working on a similar theory under the guidance of my professor in --------. [Explain in a few sentences about the results that you got from your project, what you learnt from your experience while pursuing the project and what interests you the most about their work. This paragraph is most important and likely to catch their attention.So, pay close attention to what you write in this paragraph. You can also write about certain ideas that you have in your area of interest].
I am aspiring to eventually enter graduate school and do my MS/PhD in CS/Bio/EE. It would be a great honor for me to have you as my mentor. I am very keen to work in your lab in the summer of 2015. This would give me considerable experience in the field of XXX and much required guidance for my research career. I have attached my resume with this email explaining in detail my academic achievements. Looking forward to hearing back from you.
Wrap your email with an eye catching subject line. Since professors receive so many emails, it is very important that you write an impressive subject line. One example is: Prospective student from India looking for summer research internship in your lab. If you are from a reputed institution such as the IITs, BITs etc. then include the name of your university in your subject line.
Also, remember that a very strong recommendation letter from a professor of IIT KGP, who has worked with a student for around 2 years continuously is way better than an average recommendation letter from a professor of some foreign university.
Step 3: Email carefully:
Now this is the part where you have to develop tons of patience.
Some professors may not reply while some will take a long time to reply. If a professor does not reply for more than two weeks, send them another follow up email. Given how busy they are, it is highly likely that they must have not noticed your email.
Be sure NOT to bombard them with emails, a 2 - week waiting period is good enough.
Since professors have to fund you, be prepared to exchange quite a lot of emails. Do not expect professors to accept you immediately as they will not fund students without being fully sure of their capabilities. You would really need to convince that you are worth the time that professor is going to invest in looking at your application, interviewing you, making arrangements for your visit etc. Also do not mention about funding initially. It may irritate the professors.
Use your institute email id to for emailing purpose.
Carefully mail to the professors whose research area really interests you and you really want to do work in that area. Don't do it just because everyone else around you is doing it.
Be focused and precise about your goal. Be sure about where do you want to head to and where are you heading to.
For obvious reasons, students who have been involved in research work from their second year itself will have an edge because they would already know their interests in more focused way and would also probably have good contacts with other researchers at other universities.
Students who send a very very focused, precise, to the point and personal email to a professor have much higher chances of getting selected than just "another Indian student email with CV attached and interest expressed in a similar email format”. So, be innovative in forming your email.
Apply for passport as soon as possible as it takes a long time to get it done.
Learn from friends and seniors about cultural differences in foreign nations and how to cope up with them.
Your seniors are the greatest resources who have done this before. Try to contact seniors belonging to your research interests beforehand. He/She will give you all the information and fundae regarding this.
What to do and what not to:
Please do not email more than one professor in each department. Professors discuss among themselves and some professors will not like it if a student emails to multiple professors. Wait until you hear back from one professor. If they are not responsive inspite of sending multiple emails or email you saying they are not accepting any students for summer internships, then you can email another professor in the same department.
Start the process as early as possible. If you are applying for the summer of 2015, then you must start emailing professors by August of 2014. Since this process takes so long, an early start will keep you calm and relaxed with ample time.
If your university has a strong alumni network and several of your seniors have already done foreign internships, it is highly recommended that you email them for tips, advice and insights. Also, if your professor or HOD has contacts with professors abroad, that will also be very helpful.
Tailor your resume according to the program you are applying to. Keep it short and simple.
Do your homework. When emailing a professor make sure you read about his work and that you are interested in doing something like that in summer. Address professors by name and write individual mail to each professors. Do not spam or send out mass emails.
Revise your basic before interviews. Take mock interviews if possible. Brush up your course.
One of the major problem apart from the cultural differences is the problem of different languages. People from the countries like Japan, China etc. generally prefer to speak in their own language and that’s when the problems arise for the Indian students.
There are no such cases heard of racial discrimination to the students going abroad for the 2 months duration as it has been prejudiced by us. Even in the most controversial countries famous for the bullying and discrimination, there are very less chances now-a-days and hence people need not to worry.
In the present era of cut throat competition, the craze for foreign training is increasing by leaps and bounds. As foreign training not only leads leads to internship experience but also provides us with the opportunity to see the world through new eyes, immersed in a completely new environment and culture. As quoted by Aristotle “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue and excellence, but we rather have those because we acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Let us awake and encourage foreign training and make a better world to live, to explore, to unite.
One important thing which should be taken under consideration by the competent authorities is that students should be promoted to work on research projects at our own institute. Professors of our institute are not so happy about the involvement of UG students in research projects. The prime reasons for lack of UG students’ involvement are lack of commitment and lack of interest. This happens because most of the KGP students are indulged in this rat race of getting an FT that all they care about is intern/FT in third year and then placement in 4th year. They barely give a thought about quality research work in the institute itself. If students are encouraged and promoted to work with professors right from their second year on some research work then there are high chances of securing a good research internship in their third year and it will also give them a platform to know about their own interests. Unfortunately, what is happening is that most of the students even the second years are sticking to "Emailing, Emailing and Emailing" which is not only decreasing their own chances of securing the internship but is also damaging the overall reputation of Indian students. So, introspect and do give a thought about the domestic research works going on. There is plenty of good research work going on at IIT Kharagpur itself and also at other places in India.
Lastly we would like to say this was just an overview and example of how you could start. You may find other procedure and programs other than those mentioned here. We hope that this article will help you! We will be continuing with the interviews of seniors who have done internship abroad in different fields. Stay connected!
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