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Monday, October 18, 2010

Q&A with Dushyant Arora, undergraduate student at BITS Pilani, India

 In this series of posts (labeled QnA), students have come forward to share their experiences pertaining to R&D internships/jobs. This advice from the front-lines is an intimate view into the R&D world from a student's perspective.

Question: Please tell us your name, current academic affiliation, and degree pursued.

I am Dushyant Arora. I am presently working as an intern at Deutsche Telekom Laboratories in the Intelligent Networks Research Group. I recently completed B.E. (Hons.) in Computer Science from BITS, Pilani.

Question: What is your research experience till date – can you briefly enumerate important research internships/jobs/ projects ?

  1.    Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai, India -  May – Jul 08
  2.    Max Planck Institute for Software Systems (MPI-SWS), Kaiserslautern, Germany -  May – Jul 09
  3.    HP Labs, Bangalore, India -  Jan – Jun 10
  4.    Deutsche Telekom Laboratories, Berlin, Germany -  Aug – Oct 10
Apart from these internships, I have done a couple of research projects with professors at my University.

Question: How did you net your first research internship/job. In particular, did you have any help from your school/contacts/etc or did you do it on your own?

I was fortunate that my college, BITS, Pilani, had institutionalized linkages with various industries in India and abroad through its Practice School programme. This one-of-its-kind programme provides students with opportunity to apply classroom learning in an industrial environment. I got internships at BARC and HP Labs through this program.

Question: What skills and courses undertaken in college/university have helped you the most in getting the internship/research job and then, what knowledge has helped you the most in conducting the research itself?

I had some prior research experience before I applied for an internship. I had done a few research projects with professors at my university. I think this helped me the most. Also, I did some homework about the kind of research the research lab/group is currently doing. I did this by reading the latest papers they had published.

Skills and courses learnt at undergraduate level provide you with a basic foundation of knowledge to build upon. They can’t prepare you for everything you will encounter in an internship. You must always be prepared to learn new things. In some of my internships, I encountered new fields of study which I didn’t even know existed before. Having said that the core disciplinary courses that helped me the most were Data Structures and Algorithms and Computer Networks. Needless to say, one must possess good coding skills.

Question: What were some of the things you achieved with your research experience (new skills, wrote a paper, met people, landed a job etc)?

The internships provided me an opportunity to explore new fields of study and helped me narrow down my research interests. The exposure you get in a research lab is unparalleled. Over these 4 internships, I have learnt a host of new languages, libraries, and software tools. Also, after working in an organization you learn soft skills like how to work in a team, communication skills etc. I also got a few publications. I learnt a lot about research being done by other researchers and research groups through various talks and lectures.

Question: What is the most important advice you want to give to research internship/job aspirants?

Always be enthusiastic to learn new stuff and to learn what people around you are doing. And obviously, work hard.

Question: What are your future plans?

I will be applying to US Graduate Schools for Fall 2011 admissions.