| What can help when nobody is paying attention to you on your internship?

Following is my first ever internship experience at Bhabha Atomic Research Center in Mumbai, India. Modlab, BARC

It is a very frequent, accepted, proven and ‘true’ misconception that internships in Government institutions are worthless, as nobody has neither the time nor the patience to guide you through each and everything. And in most cases, you either end up doing nothing or if you are serious enough, you get to read - and read a lot - the reports and books on various ‘practical’ topics.

I had my internship starting from June 1, 2016. I am intern at Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Mumbai in the MOD LAB, Electronics Division.

So, I reached with all enthusiasm, but after getting all my security clearances, I was allowed inside the premises only on June 6. It was a long wait, and I did not wish to waste any time. As soon as I was assigned a mentor, and that was on 30th May, I contacted him for my project work and also asked for any prerequisite readings. I was assigned my topics, and since my ID card was due for June 3, I could not have started early. So, I had enough time to go through the topics.

Well in any case, that hidden fear was always there in mind because B.A.R.C. is a government organisation.I had enough time, and enough energy to go through the topics, actually subtopics, though they were fairly complicated to understand, but I somehow managed to get a clear picture of what exactly these guys were trying to accomplish!

Hence came Day 1. B.A.R.C. is a large place, and it took me a fairly good amount of time to figure my way out. On meeting my mentor, and he is a good man, we had an initial discussion on the kind of projects that I have done previously and what I managed to study about the assigned topics. It was a good initial interaction. He also was pleased to know that I managed to figure out the project. Of the three topics, he asked me to study all, and choose the one I would like to work on. Since time was limited (2 months), I chose a topic that was complicated enough and also would not require complicated hardware interfacing. B.A.R.C. projects are large and one cannot afford to start a new project for every internship. We are either assigned a previous pending project to further develop or, if simply one month intern, one ends up only studying the projects. But, be it any case, the former or the latter, you have to study first before you can think to contribute.

We start from about 10 in the morning (the timings are not strict for the trainees, but I try my best to be on time) and till 6 in the evening. The first week has ended and all I have done in this week was study! The situation had already began to develop where I could feel it happening, or as we guys say, ‘kat rha tha’. I was assigned one project and all I could do about that was to study! There was no progress ‘practically’ in 5 days after working for 8 hours everyday. All I could do was study, and I did. So, this to make a point clear here, the first important task at hand during internships is, do what you are told to do with all the effort and all the possible dedication you could manage to put together. Because, it happens only after this, that your true potential can be recognized!

Something similar happened to me on Friday, the last day of the week. One of the scientists of the same department approached me at my desk and asked for my progress with the work. I had studied enough to make sense of the possible solutions! Just to make it clear, these topics are highly advanced, some being complicated enough that you won’t encounter them until you get to work in one of the research labs like B.A.R.C. The person was impressed with what I had to tell him. Well, to my credit, why not? I had managed to read more than 20 research papers on Ultrasonics, a PhD. thesis on the same from Illinois Institute of Technology, several topics from books on Image Processing, Statistical Pattern Recognition, Fractal and Wavelet Theory Applications and Wavelet Transforms.

I had a fair knowledge and methodology to make my point and suggest a possible solution! And well, to conclude, he not only appreciated but also asked me to start working with him from Monday on-wards!

To my mentor’s credit, I know he asked the person to come forward and take me in, to work on the project. Its a new project and only after careful observation, I was allowed to start actual work on it. B.A.R.C., or for that matter, any government organization cannot afford to start a new project for ‘Trainees’ unless they can be sure to have actual correct results at the end. The key is do the work assigned to you with an honest-to-soul hard work, diligence and patience. Leave the rest. The events would take proper turns when the time is right.

[published originally on linkedin 🔗]

[ Posted by Amitabh Yadav ]

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