University of Tokyo
I’m sure everyone understands the importance of Internships not only as a crucial part of the curriculum followed here, but also as a direction to future career goals. I aimed to go for a foreign internship in my third year summers, and like most fellow KGPians I spend a large time of my 5th and 6th semesters mailing to professors and applying to different programs. The mailing part (sadly) did not turn out to be very good for me, but I managed to get selected in an internship program at the University of Tokyo
The program I had applied to is known as IJEP (India – Japan Education Program).
The program I had applied to is known as IJEP (India – Japan Education Program). Information on the programme had come in through the CDC notice board. The selection procedure was quite simple. I had to make an account in the online application portal for the program. One choice of project/ host lab had to be given. Also, it required academic transcripts, a letter of recommendation and a personal statement describing your motivation behind applying for the internship and research interests. Selections are made solely on these and there aren’t any further interviews. There weren’t any cg cut-off for the program but (obviously) a higher cg improves the chances of getting selected.
My host laboratory was primarily working on tissue engineering and regenerative medicines. My work specifically was to prepare oxygen releasing scaffolds that release oxygen in a controlled manner, and to test the feasibility of developing thick tissue constructs with these scaffolds. I was also helping my mentor on another of his projects which involved determining the effects of pressure on cells.
The Japanese are usually known to be insanely workaholic and true to its word, there were people in my lab who spent about 10-12 hours in the lab everyday. It was, in fact, a very conducive environment and even though i wasn’t expected to follow a strict work schedule, but it encouraged me to spend more time working in the lab. I got a chance to work with some of the best facilities available for research and interact with some of the most talented researchers in tissue engineering field. There were three more intern students in my lab from different parts of the world and interacting and working with them was a very enjoyable experience.
Apart from all the manga shops, the weekly cosplays, the hi-tech stuff, the bullet trains, the neon-lit skyscrapers, Tokyo is also an insanely pretty place with the cherry trees and traditional houses and shrines. There were a few other people from India and we explored a lot in and around Tokyo. We climbed Mount Fuji, which is one of the best experiences in my life. The university also sent us on an excursion to Kobe to see a supercomputer, and also in the process, gave us a chance to ride the bullet train. We were also given Japanese lessons, attended tea ceremonies, experienced the cultural fest of the university of Tokyo (around the end of may), some international parties were hosted by the university for the students, and a few barbeques hosted in my lab.
Intern And Long Term Career Goals
Before the internship, I wasn’t very sure if I wanted to pursue research as a career option. But I was really inspired by the work culture and my interaction with various professors, postdocs and PhD students there, and I hope to take up research in the future.
I want to conclude by saying that going for an international internship is always a good idea; not just for the much better research facilities and techniques, but also to gain a different perspective on people and cultures from different parts of the world. The cross cultural work experience goes a long way in personal development