Research Internships – Its Importance For Your Career & How to Apply
Intermittent breaks are essential in life to refresh body and mind for enhancing work efficiency. Like other work professionals, students are also provided with semester breaks throughout their academic career. The breaks generally encourage the students to come back to the academic field after a refreshment with more energy and enthusiasm. As students step into higher academic qualifications especially from a science background the curriculum includes more practical based syllabi. Apart from studying only the principle and theories of scientific phenomena the students are more attracted towards the practical experiments and the result analysis. It creates a desire in the student to learn the application of these principles for the upliftment of mankind.
Within a limited time period for syllabus completion and other academic activities of the institute; not every student can get satisfactory experience related to hands-on experiments in the laboratories. For this reason, most of the institutions make Research Internships as a mandatory credit for completion of the degree. This helps students to work as interns in the laboratory of some other Research and Development Organization as well as established companies during their summer vacation where they are completely dedicated to enhancing their practical knowledge and experimental skills without any other academic burden.
In general, an internship provides a short term work experience for an intern (mostly students) to enhance their practical knowledge and sometimes to meet the requirements of their degree fulfillment at a place other than their own academic institutions. This short term exposure can be really of great importance for the career establishment of a student in the research sector. One can see the benefits from the moment a student starts to search for a suitable Job. This broadens the outlook of the students regarding the various available platforms for scientific works worldwide. By surfing through the website of the institutions and reputed companies students get to know a lot of information related to research areas in various places. This immensely encourages the students to be active in the research field as well as industrial applications of research work.
Procedure to Apply For Research Internships
- There are certain procedures to be followed for applying the summer research fellowship. Most of the institutes notify and choose students for the research internship program.
- Many of them hire Summer research Fellows nationwide through a screening process.
- In order to motivate students more towards research career, these governing bodies also facilitate them with fellowship assistance.
- Students have to be alert enough to check the dates of the advertisement and apply in time. Once they make it through the selection they are allocated to labs of their interest or any lab by the selecting body.
- The selection is definitely a tough process as it solely depends on the inquisitiveness of the students towards research.
- Along with the academic qualifications students have to submit a research proposal based on any topic of their own interest. This writing can be used to screen the research enthusiasm and the depth of knowledge of the students for the selection process.
- Once the selection list is finalized the students are notified through email to contact their respective allocated supervisors and decide the suitable date for joining the internship.
Apart from the above procedure,
- Students can also join any company with a well developed Research and Development wing such as Pharmaceutical companies, Manufacturing companies for products such as enzymes, developing diagnosis kits, etc through direct references.
- The students can approach existing employees for a short term project with sufficient laboratory skills involved that helps them to enhance their practical experience on a paid/ unpaid selection basis.
- The company will have an enthusiastic intern to work and this will help the student to learn the relevant industrial skills.
This transient break can have some really significant impact on the personal as well as the professional career of a student.
Below mentioned are few points with a brief listing of the definite useful outcome of the Research Internships for a student.
- Encourages One For A Research Career
During the academic period, some students can fix their career objective but some may have the confusion to set their career objective. Sometimes a small exposure to a new field may help the student to realize what they actually need to do in the future.
Research internships can really be a significant exposure to change the career path of students and make them realize whether they could continue a career in research throughout their life. Learning through visual sense is much more influential than auditory sense, hence practical knowledge always has a greater significance in humans than only theory based knowledge.
No matter how well the students are taught a concept in the theory class, exposure to a practical field can only help them understand it properly. Through this internship programme, students get access to visit other labs of Research and Development institutions that help them to come across a wide range of research field. They get to know how using the knowledge of biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics different problems related to human society can be addressed worldwide. What is the practical implementation of life process knowledge to enhance the solution strategy for existing problems of human beings.
In industries, interns get exposure to different industrial processes at a larger scale. In what way the protocol designed in a lab is used to meet the demands at a commercial level. The technology, the instruments used in industries, their principles, efficiency can inspire them to develop similar equipment for other applications. They are encouraged to think of improvising existing models to enhance methods and production. This motivates a student to search answers for some questions that are still unresolved. To find the solution to problems that are still unsolved. This small experience can lay the foundation for a research career for the students.
2. Helps Improvise Hands-on skills
The laboratory provides a platform for the students to experience things as real. They might have studied DNA replication numerous times but they get to see a DNA molecule in the lab for the first time. This is a great experience for them. Practically many small things are there which may affect the efficiency and accuracy of the result. In the laboratory, the interns learn minute yet useful techniques that are actually helpful to make them expertise at work. The basic lab techniques including micropipetting, sterilization techniques like autoclaving, media preparation, preparing reagents and stock solutions, etc are taught during the research internship program.
In addition to this interns are trained some important instrumentation handling knowledge such as a spectrophotometer, gel documentation, cell culture, PCR, DNA quantification, etc. This learning gradually improves with time and makes a student much more precise than others.
In industries, the interns get to learn the optimization of instruments, how to handle them properly with care to minimize damage. Proper calibration of instruments is another important skill such as in weighing machines, pH meter, dissolved Oxygen meter, etc.
3. Increases Proficiency in Writing
One of the key skills in a research career is representing your work through research and review papers in various journals. Writing the paper in a proper scientific way to decrease the chance of rejection by editorial boards of journals is a difficult task. So during internship interns are trained to write the papers in formats that are readily accepted. This skill can be enhanced by studying papers of various journals such as Nature publishing group, Cell, Science, PNAS, PLOS, etc that shape up the crude writing ideas of the students into a proper scientific format. Reading these papers also enhance the vocabulary skills of students and gives ideas of work protocols adopted by different laboratories.
Learning proper citation of a reference journal is also a vital thing that is also taught during the internship. For writing the thesis and framing the abstract in the most influential way students are also trained to represent their work. Other research related soft skills such as taking up a specific problem to work on, how to set the objectives, structuring the materials and methods, how to design the experiments, represent data and analysis finally concluding remarks in the form of discussion is also learned during this period.
4. Adds Weight to Your Curriculum vitae – Preference Given During Job Interviews
The curriculum vitae is a summary of the entire academic profile of a student till the present date. CVs include detailed information regarding academic backgrounds such as teaching experience, additional degrees, research work, awards and achievements, publications, presentations, and extracurricular deeds. In brief, CVs include more information, particularly extensive records related to one’s academic and research background. Along with the essential degrees and qualifications such as graduation and post graduation etc something extracurricular can definitely increase the weightage compared to others.
Internship in a reputed laboratory under the supervision of scientific personnel will definitely add a shining star to the general CV of the intern. In the future, this experience may account for some really important selection criteria in the student’s career. This internship will classify you as an experienced candidate over others which most employers desire. So this internship increases the chance of selection over other candidates in the employment field. During an interview, this extra weight also boosts the self-confidence as it ensures better practical knowledge in the relevant field.
5. Increases Team Building Skills
Teamwork is definitely much more effective than working alone. Research work needs a strong team with lots of cooperation and knowledge exchange among the team members. Most of the research works are done in collaboration between different laboratories where part of the work is done by one lab and part of the objective is done by the other lab. So to be capable of being a good teammate is a necessity for a research career.
During this internship, the intern has to work with the research scholars of respective supervisors in R & D institutions and other employees in R & D wings of industries. This requires to learn new things as well as cooperation from the experienced members of the team. In return interns also need to assist their seniors in various projects. This definitely strengthens the teamwork quality. This prepares an intern to work in a team in the future.
6. Helps in Establishing a Strong Professional Network
Today’s world has definitely shrunk with advanced technologies that enable people to stay connected with each other through networking. But still developing a relation by direct interaction is much stronger than a virtual relationship. During the research internship period, the intern comes in contact with a lot of people from scientific academic as well as nonacademic backgrounds, this widens the professional network for them. This improves communication skills and enhances knowledge gain through the exchange of ideas and views among interacting people. This broad professional networking is helpful for the establishment of future collaborations.
7. Makes Your Research Career Futureproof
While working as an intern if the student finds the place suitable to work in future also they can definitely assure it with their dedication and hard work. Every employer needs dedicated hardworking and sincere employees who can contribute to maximum growth for his company. Once interns get to work at a place such as a laboratory or industry they are acquainted with the work environment. They align themselves as per the rules and regulation of the workplace. There is also a friendly professional environment that ensures better work quality by the employees. So many employers may prefer to recruit interns as their permanent employees. This is definitely a kind of career insurance for the interns. For interns in R & D laboratories if they develop a good understanding of the supervisors this may lead to a secure PhD position in the respective lab.
8. Boost Self-Confidence
Self-confidence is the key to success in life. Exposure to a practical work environment gives the confidence to work in new better places in the future. This enhances the communication skills, time management skills and work efficiency which is really helpful to maintain a healthy professional life.
Time is the most precious thing in life. The person who can make the best use of it definitely succeeds in life. Obviously, leisure is equally important in life to freshen up and rejuvenate mind to get back to work, but using the leisure time in some productive work is a wise decision. Joining a research internship will certainly give a boost to the academic career of an intern.