A Holistic Guide to Research Internships — Domestic and International


General information

  1. The application process for research internships can be broadly classified into 3 types — Research internship programs, Personal mailing, and International Relations Cell’s Foreign Training Portal (FTP).
    For programs, you can visit their website, check the eligibility criteria, and go ahead with the application procedure as directed by the portal.
    Personal mailing has a different process and I have described this as well.
    Lastly, the FTP is similar to the internship programs’ portals wherein you’ll have to create an account using your institute’s email ID. You’ll get notifications about new projects and their application deadlines on IR Cell’s social media pages.
  2. Curriculum Vitae / Resume: For research, the professors/scientists are relatively more interested in your projects, internships, skills and coursework, research interests, publications (if any), and academic scores. Unlike corporate internships, positions of responsibility don’t have a significant effect on your profile. However, you should mention everything which you believe is relevant to your profile.
    Academic CVs should be around 1–2 pages long at max. It should be noted that if you are extending your CV to the 2nd page, then you should fill at least 40% of the 2nd page. Otherwise, you’ll have to wrap everything within the 1st page itself.
    Needless to say, you shouldn’t include random, irrelevant, and deceitful facts in your CV because you might be exposed easily in the interviews which will ultimately lead to the rejection of your application.
    You can use Overleaf to make your CV with readily available templates online. Here’s my resume for your reference.
    Lastly, you should try to avoid having extensive white spaces and a single point in multiple lines. You don’t need to include every minute detail associated with the project/internship. You’ll get the chance to explain your contribution to the project in the interviews. Get your CV verified by seniors before sending it to the professors.
  3. Email Template / Cover Letter: This is one of the key things when you are trying to get an internship by emailing the professor/scientist. A casually written email might not receive a reply from the recipient and hence even if you have an excellent profile, it won’t help you. Therefore, it's extremely important to have a customized email template. Here’s a sample one that I modified as per my requirement:-
  1. 1st paragraph should contain your introduction. You should also mention that you’re looking for a research opportunity for a given time period.
    IMPORTANT: Never ever mention the word “internship” in the entire email content. This will trigger the spam filter and your email won’t reach the recipient. Along with this, all the emails that you’ll send in the future will also be marked as “spam”.
  2. 2nd paragraph comprises your research interests and projects. You should briefly mention the details in this section.
  3. In my opinion, this is a crucial section of the entire email content. If you mention a publication authored by the professor, it shows that you are genuinely interested in his/her research and also, you have gone through his/her work. You can be more descriptive than what I have mentioned like, “I really liked your approach of handling this issue with this method.”, “You could have tried this for solving the issue”, etc.
  4. Lastly, it's very important to thank him/her because the professors are very busy with their activities and despite this, they have considered your application.
  5. You should always send the documents like a resume, SOP, academic transcripts, etc. as a Google Drive or OneDrive link instead of PDFs. This is because of the fact that PDFs from unknown sources can once again trigger the spam filter.

Follow-up emails and replies

Research Internship programs

  1. Mitacs Globalink Research Internship, Canada
  2. DAAD, Germany
  3. University of Alberta Research Experience (UARE), Canada
  4. Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Research Internship program, Japan
  5. Honda YES, Japan
  6. University of Tokyo (UTokyo) Summer Internship Program, Japan
  7. Nanyang Technological University (NTU) India Connect Research Internship Programme, Singapore
  8. Robotics Institute Summer Scholar (RISS), Carnegie Mellon University, USA
  9. CERN Summer Student Program, Switzerland
  10. CHARPAK, France
  11. EPFL, Switzerland
  12. Visiting Student Researcher Program, University of Ottawa, Canada
  13. Max Planck Institute of Software Systems, Germany
  14. Internship in Global Engineering & Advanced Research, Michigan State University, USA

My Experience

  1. I started emailing professors from the 2nd week of Sep’20. And this continued till the last week of Dec’20. The total number of emails that I had sent in this period is 872!!!!! This is more than what people do to get such internships, nevertheless, I did it.
    As I mentioned above, I scheduled my emails such that they reached the prof’s inbox at the most favorable time.
    However, due to the pandemic, more than 75% of the responses that I got mentioned that they are uncertain about the summer activities. So, either they asked me to contact them later or they rejected my application for this reason.
  2. I had applied for a couple of programs as well. I was interviewed for a few of ’em, but as it turned out, they insisted on remote internships, and I didn’t want a remote interaction this summer. As a result, I wasn’t selected for any of the programs.
  3. Finally, around the 1st week of Jan’21, I decided to contact professors for remote projects starting at their earliest convenience. For this, I received 3 replies from RWTH Aachen University, The Ohio State University, and Carnegie Mellon University.
    The latter offered an offline internship in the summers’21 initially, but due to VISA issues, they finally decided not to go ahead with this. As for RWTH Aachen, they were insisting on summer projects remotely. Hence I rejected this offer.
    Finally, after a few meetings with the Research Scientist and the Ph.D. scholar from the CAR, The Ohio State University, I was selected!!
  4. For the summers, I had a backup offer and hence, I didn’t have a stressful situation in general. This might not be the case with everyone but you have to keep going until you get what you want.


  1. I have a decent/relatively lower CGPA. I don’t think I should apply as I won’t be selected anyways.



I’m here to resolve the “why’s” and “how’s” for myself and others, once and for all. | Website: keshavbagri.in

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Keshav Bagri

I’m here to resolve the “why’s” and “how’s” for myself and others, once and for all. | Website: keshavbagri.in