How to Get a Research Internship at IIMs? ft. Aditi Mulye
Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Many blog members, especially undergraduate students, wanted to know how to get a research internship under an IIM professor for summers/winters. So, presenting to you Aditi Mulye's Internship Experience of IIM Ahmedabad to clear all your doubts on how to apply for such an internship, what all rounds can take place and what kind of work will be offered.
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Me: Hey Aditi, thank you for taking out the time to share about your UG internship experience at IIM-A.
Aditi: It's a pleasure, would love to help.
Me: Why don't we start with a brief introduction about you and your decision to go for an IIM internship?
Aditi: Sure. I am currently studying Computer Science Engineering from a college in Indore. As a student from a tier-II college, it had always been a struggle to find decent internship opportunities as most of the companies only hired through campuses. I had studied Economics in 12th and took a few more management courses during my college. This helped me in understanding what I wanted to do further.
I knew I wanted to work in the field of management. I was looking for opportunities when I came across an internship experience by someone on Internshala who had interned at IIM Ahmedabad. That was when I got inspired. I knew I wanted to be someone who had interned at India's best B-School. Being in the second year, I didn't have any prior internship experiences as such. As I've been born and bought up in Indore, I started with applying for a month's winter internship at IIM Indore. This is how it all started.
Me: So, how did you start looking out for the professors? Any criteria or filters that you used?
Aditi: To be honest, I didn't have any filters as such. I knew that the online and offline courses I had done before would help me, and I was looking for something in a similar field. I applied to over 50 professors in various colleges of the country, sometimes 10 per college. You may have to increase or decrease the number based on how well-known your undergraduate college is, what other experiences you've had, etc.
Me: How did you prepare your CV and Cover Letter? What exactly do the IIM profs look at?
Aditi: This was the trickiest part. So, your cover letter should not be a generalized one. Use the little tricks and tips to make it look more professional. For instance, instead of writing Dear/Respected Sir, prefer writing Dear/Respected Prof. XYZ. You should mention the relevant courses, if any, in the field of interest of the professor. Also, write about his/her current/recent research work or papers, try to give your views on it. Regarding the CV, it doesn't have to be anything special. Your usual professional CV would do. I made my CV on LaTex.
Me: After how many days did you receive a reply from the professors? What did they say?
Aditi: A lot of professors didn't reply, and it is okay, they're generally traveling or busy with other non-academic work during summers. A few responded, saying that they were working and weren't looking for an intern. So, I got a positive reply ten days after sending the email, but it can vary in other cases. I had not sent a follow-up. It was such a happy moment. I screamed in the middle of one of my lectures. It read as follows:
Me: Under which professor did you get the opportunity to intern?
Aditi: I interned under Prof. Arvind Sahay of the department of Marketing. My work was entirely research-based. I had to gather background data, conduct online and offline interviews, and finally make a case study. I cannot share the details due to the private nature of data I worked on.
Me: How many rounds of interviews took place? What were you asked in them?
Me: So basically, there was only one interview. I was given ten days before the meeting took place. It was a telephonic interview. The professor had sent me a very old and famous research paper by the Nobel Prize recipient, Richard Thaler. It was on Behavioral Science.
Now I had never studied this subject in my entire life, and here I was, about to explain the findings of this Nobel Prize Laureate. I studied as much as I could and explained it to him. I knew I didn't do well. However, the professor was kind enough and asked me to study appropriately and rescheduled another meeting. I used everything I could to get in-depth knowledge: YouTube videos, online study material, books, etc. This time I prepared harder with all the real-life examples etc. You know how it ended! :P
Me: After getting selected, when did you go to the campus? How was the overall ambiance and culture?
Aditi: I went for the internship during my summer break after the 4th Semester. I was there for around two months. The ambiance was just mesmerizing, and I usually used to study in the temporary library. It was amazing. Air conditioners over every single table, so many books, papers, thesis, comfy sofas to rest if you get tired after working, everything about that place was just incredible.
I was accommodated near the campus in a PG, which was Vishwashanti Girls Hostel. During my two months there, I didn't come across any cultural or technical fests at the campus because of the summer break. But by interacting with a few people who were there, I got an idea of the IIM-A culture. I found the staff, security vendors, etc. to be really helpful and friendly. They showed me around, told me where the mess was, and helped me in every possible way.
Me: What all activities did you perform for your internship? Any significant learning?
Aditi: I was asked to do a report on the steel industry and then one company in particular. I went on-field talking to executives, distributors, customers, and anyone who I thought could be helpful for my research report. I really came to understand what it is like to work under someone and meet my work deadlines. I became more organized, to follow someone was a new experience for me. Most importantly, I learned how to research something.
Me: How challenging did you find the role? Did the professor support you?
Aditi: Professor Sahay was quite supportive and gave me advice on how to improve my work. Being mostly busy and traveling, I got to meet him only 4-5 times during the entire internship. We were mostly in contact via emails. This was the first time I had ever done something so huge on my own. It was a fun learning experience for me. I had to figure out a lot of things on my own, and it was at least seven drafts before my work got finalized for the first submission.
Me: Who, in your opinion, should apply for research internship at IIMs?
Aditi: If you're someone who likes studying management subjects, wants to do an MBA, or wants to experience life at an IIM, this is it. This internship helped me come closer to what I want to achieve in life. The learning from this internship made me focused and driven, which helped me land another internship at the University of Cambridge. After all, an internship at IIM Ahmedabad can only be good for your profile!
Me: Any piece of advice for someone who is planning to apply?
Aditi: I would suggest being candid about yourself. More importantly, you should remember that it is you who needs something, not the one you are emailing, so keep a humble attitude all the time and don't lose hope. You may get one reply out of those 50, but that is what you need, right. And if you really want this, just keep hustling for it.
So, that was an interaction with Aditi Mulye, to whom I am extremely grateful for sharing her internship experience at IIM-A with us. Her experience will surely help pave the way for many aspirants who wish to intern at the IIMs in the coming summers and winters. If you wish to reach out to her for any queries, this is the link to her LinkedIn profile.
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