Those were hard times—semester exams, preparing for CSIR-NET, and the hunt for an internship. Rejections from prestigious institutes like IISERs and IITs had instilled in me a hint of pessimism. When the internship at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was announced, I didn’t want to apply; nonetheless, constant nagging from my friends and family made me prepare a write-up on ‘Why does science interest you?’, as required by the application. I included my reasons for choosing science as a career, included quotes from eminent scientists, and added details about my areas of interest, i.e. immunotherapy as an upcoming option to treat diseases. I emphasised on why I wanted to join JNU and the importance of science and research for the prosperity of mankind. The write-up was to be forwarded by the director along with my educational transcripts and resumé .
I requested the director to recommend me and forward my application. The shortlisting was to be done on the basis of merit, resumé , and the write-up. On the D-Day, with a throbbing heart and shaking hands, I scrolled the list and found my name. I was one of the 30 students who got the golden opportunity to intern at JNU. I, along with my friends and family, rejoiced as this was surely an achievement.
Amid luscious trees and broken rocks, I walked down the roads of the campus and reached the convention center of JNU for the introductory lecture and brunch. An inspiring talk by the Vice-Chancellor was a cherry on the icing. We proceeded to the School of Life Sciences where the internship was to be undertaken, and guides were allotted to us. I had no prior lab experience and started from the scratch. I was working in the Eukaryotic Gene Regulation Laboratory. Stepping into the lab, I encountered arrays of chemicals and gigantic machines.
My guide assigned me the project topic which was to study iron metabolism in candida albicans. In my tenure of 40 days, I learnt basic molecular biology techniques including media preparation, PCR, western blotting, transformation, and screening. Apart from these, I got the chance to perform new methods like spot assay and electroplating. Sometimes, I worked at night and took care of machines, performed experiments all by myself, and shut down the instruments. These responsibilities made me confident and added to my experience. I also helped Ph.D. scholars with their work which helped me gain insights into various subjects. I made blunders but was forgiven, taught, and consoled; amidst the hassle, I completed my project under the guidance of my guide, Mr. Manjit. We also had two-hour classes from eminent teachers which enhanced my knowledge and aided me in entrance exams.
I loved ‘the busy life’—working in the lab, preparing reports, and having fun at the hostel. I made some great friends during my stay at the hostel. Eating together, having long, late night conversations, lab discussions, sharing stuff, and wandering together made for the cherished memories. There were students from every part of India, which exposed us to various cultures and traditions. We explored JNU and hung out at its canteens, dhabas, Parth Sarthi rocks, open air theatre, caves, and the 24/7 library. I also got to display my writing skills in the essay competition held on the International Yoga Day wherein I bagged the second prize and received praise for my performance in the debates.
From gaining knowledge and hands-on training to making friends and lifelong memories, the internship offered a full-fledged package of joy. It was a journey of immense learning, upgrading skills, building relations, and adding worth to my professional life. We were awarded the certificate and a book at the valedictorian ceremony.
Bagging a good internship is no cakewalk, but it is worth the constant efforts. Keep your spirits high and keep trying because an internship can shape your professional confidence and career in a great way.
Karishma Arora is a student at Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Centre for Biomedical Research (ACBR), Delhi University.
This story is published via Internshala, the internship and training platform.