Shashank Anand is a 4th year student in the Department of Civil Engineering. Read on as he recounts his experience of working with the POEMS team at the Inria Research Centre, Paris during the summers of 2016.
Having secured a decent CGPA and after getting a positive reply from Germany, I decided to apply for the venerated DAAD Scholarship. However, thanks to my dreadful luck, I could not apply for it as my mentor decided to move to USA in October end and I was left with no other options.
Unbowed, unbent and unbroken, I started looking for other opportunities and came across the Charpak Internship Program for France. Subsequently, I sent applications for an internship position.
I got a positive reply from the POEMS team (INRIA Research Centre, Saclay) and applied for Charpak Research Internship Program 2016. (For all the details about the programme, visit this link, http://www.inde.campusfrance.org/en/page/charpak-research-internship-program). This program is really competitive unlike Daad Scholarship Program for Germany. I was one of the 25 students from all over India to be awarded this Scholarship by the French Embassy.
I was getting paid by my lab as well as the Charpak Scholarship Programme. All the important arrangements were taken care of by Campus-France team (an enterprise responsible for promoting French higher education).
Alluding to France, they have summer vacations till August and winter vacations in November end to December. So the most advisable duration of apping would be September End to Mid November and if you are not successful in securing a position then you can also try in January-February.
From my personal experience there are two things that matter the most in your application.
Length: The length of your email should be as small as possible touching upon only the most relevant details.
Content: Key things for getting a positive reply.
Why have you applied for that particular professor or you may discuss something from his/her personal page.
Your experiences in the field of research you are applying for and your expectations from the internship.
The place: Inria Research Centre, Saclay, Paris
My area of interest lies in the field of High Performance Computation. I got an opportunity to work in POEMS team (INRIA, Saclay) on the aforementioned topic. The research theme of the team is centered on the conception, analysis, numerical approximation and control of mathematical models for the description of wave propagation phenomena.
My mentor was trying to simulate three dimensional propagation of elastodynamic wave, but the computational cost was too high for practical purpose and this is the point where my internship work started. The first week’s work involved reading literature and understanding the problem. In the second week, after having long technical discussions with my mentor, I proposed a roadmap to deal with this problem and I started working on that. By the end of my intriguing internship, I was successful in reducing the computational cost by a considerable amount.
Talking about the working culture of the team, there was an optimum balance between creativity and discipline. I was enthralled by the the passion everyone showed in what they were pursuing. All the team members used to go together for lunch which was really delicious. We used to have informal conversations on topics ranging from European girls to Brexit. Every Friday evening there used to be a barbecue, a perfect start for the weekend.
Return gift from one of my friends, for a wholesome meal of daal
Weekends in Paris
I was lucky to get an internship in the city of lights, Paris. I spent my three weeks exploring Paris which is not enough to explore this alluring place. One weekend, I prepared typical Indian daal for my French friends and they loved it. One of my really good friends Florent, who was also my lab mate, made a sketch of mine as a return gift.
Walking through the streets of Paris was an unparalleled experience. Just wandering through the city is entertaining full with resplendent insights into the history, art and romance of the place.
Fortunately, I visited Paris during Euro Cup tournament. The ambience on the streets of Paris during the match of France in Euro Cup was nonpareil. After the historic win of France over Germany, people went crazy and then I realised that one could feel the heat of an India vs. Pakistan cricket match even in France. Everyone was celebrating as if they had won the tournament. I got to see the final match in the fan zone in front of Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, France lost to Portugal and after the match you could see the France supporters walking like zombies across the streets.
Being a travel buff, I had some special plans for spending my weekends. Summer is the best time in Europe to travel. I visited different places like Saint Michaels, Marseilles, Rennes, Bruges, Brussels, and Amsterdam etc. You can also go for some adventurous sports like hiking in Calanque in Southern France which was awesome.
People and Food
People are really helpful in Europe. So you will not find any problem. Yes, you need to be a bit careful but there is nothing to be scared of. Personally, I loved the French food. I tried different kind of meal, cookies, chocolates, and drinks. While travelling I preferred to stay with the locals rather than in hotels. You get to know their lifestyle and typical local food which in itself is a unique experience.
To conclude, I would like to say that my internship has definitely given me a better understanding of my skill set and where my career may take me, but most importantly, I’ve come to learn that you must be passionate about what you are pursuing. Don’t just sit in your cabin and do regular work, take a look at the things around you, talk to your lab-mates, try to know their perspective, these things matter a lot.
In the end I would like to say that there are many excellent opportunities waiting for you, all you have to do is start exploring your way out. Chase the idea of happiness and success will find you!
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