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Summer 2017

Summer Diaries: University of Manchester

July 30, 2017
- Jashan Singh


“Biotech waale toh sab foreign intern maarte hain” was the phrase I had constantly heard since my first year. Since the placement office doesn’t fancy the “Core Biotech Internship Program” if there ever was such a thing, we have to make do with Europe, North America and Australia over the IT rich cities of Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Gurgaon. we = Biotechnology, Metallurgy, GT/GPT, etc Since DAAD, EPFL, Charpak, Mitacs and Viterbi are well known to send students off for internships on a full stipend to universities abroad, many people end up applying to such programs. And if you know anything about the Indian education system, there is bound to be some major competition which entails higher GPA requirements, a resume adorned with previous research projects and blessings from The Almighty Himself/Herself (feminism). To sum up, getting a foreign intern is almost as tough as JEE Advance or changing your branch!

Making it there

Students forget that the internet can be used for other things as well. If you have convinced yourself that you want a career in research (just to keep you going through the process), here are some useful intern-ey things to do/keep track of while you are online:

  1. The new semester usually starts from September in the EU region so that’s when the professors are looking for kick-starting new and interesting research projects.
  2. Look out for funding agencies like the British Council (again the requirements are pretty much the same as stated above), but apply anyway.
  3. Search for reasonably high ranking universities (according to your status)
  4. Search for professors whose research interests align with yours
  5. (If you don’t have one, pick the topic that you have studied the most)
  6. Prepare a Cover letter (primary email) and a resume (not a CV; they are different things).
  7. SOPs (Statement of Purpose) are highly specific to the research area that you want to go to and usually, professors tend to ask for it in successive emails (if you get there), so no need to prepare it beforehand.
  8. Just have a friendly conversation with the prof (over email or Skype), subtly ask for a stipend and Voila, you are there.
  9. Apply for the passport that you lied about having. (If already have one then proceed to step 10)
  10. Acquire the Acceptance letter from the University and make sure it states “Visiting PGR student” or something similar and not an “Internship”. (Needed for step 11)
  11. Get a short term student visa (at least 15 days before your flight).
  12. Fly!


Life at UoM

People expect a scenario similar to certain American college movies, but that’s just superficial. Undergraduate life is the same in almost every part of the world, only the work culture, hangout spots, night-outs and party plans change. It is important to remain in touch with that part of your being when you are on an internship abroad. Research is serious professional work and is treated as such. Although the British atmosphere and culture felt quite weird at first to a student such as me, with having lunch at 12pm, dealing with excessive rains, sunbathing if the sun ever shines (3 days out 7), the 9 to 5 work culture and then having dinner as early as 6pm, health and safety induction programs that stretched the entire week (apparently, prevention is the best cure, literally), celebrating weekends, and Happy Hours (it’s exactly what you think it means) after a conference at the department with the professors, you get used to it soon.Fortunately I befriended some undergrads to get me back in the groove and really explore Manchester as though a first yearite would. It’s the after work/dinner social life where things get interesting. Remember when I said it was all superficial? I lied.

Exploring the country(s)

Before leaving for my internship, people usually told me to roam different cities, look at the famous attractions, click loads of photographs, and basically be a tourist. This, really, is not a bad idea, because you can easily go on pre-planned, cheap trips across Europe and manage 2-3 countries on long weekends. But to me, it was all about being a traveller, exploring the culture and the people while having someone awesome keeping me company. We would take it slow, a country or a city in a weekend like the way it is meant to be done. We could never see as much a tourist would in a single day over the entire weekend and we never wanted to either. Honest opinion: Do some sightseeing on Google Maps 3D and then plan your trips, you would definitely enjoy more.


Keeping it simple, an internship to an overseas university is a must for all students as it teaches you not only how much research means in the world but that opportunities are limitless for the so called “non-core” fields.