Introduction : First let me tell you something about myself. I am a 4th-year undergraduate student pursuing BE in ECE from NSIT, Delhi. I liked Mathematics from my school days. I used to solve math problems for hours in a day. During JEE preparation also, I was so focused on Math and Physics that I could not give much time to chemistry. During JEE preparation days, we learned Fermat’s last theorem and I was so astonished by the fact that it took decades to prove this simple result. For me, this Theorem was the first example to demonstrate the Beauty of Mathematics. I wanted to pursue math right after my 12th but due to societal pressure and lack of knowledge about BSc. courses, I ended up joining NSIT. At that time, I was also not aware about the pure science courses in IISER’s.
First 5 semesters in college (THE PLAN): After joining NSIT, I tried to build my interest in ECE(I wasn’t interested in coding at all which is the reason why I didn’t go for CS stream). I tried exploring different fields in ECE like Antennas, Image Processing. But somehow, I couldn’t find these topics as interesting as mathematics. In most of the engineering courses, background knowledge of some basic math is required. But, I was more interested in the proofs of the formula rather than it’s application. So, after a bit of research I made a plan. My plan was to do some credible research in mathematics to secure a good foreign research internship which eventually would help me pursue Masters in Mathematics from a top notch foreign university. Why foreign Internship?? Based on profiles of the students pursuing Mathematics, I found that many of them had done a research project under a top notch faculty. And you will surely need guidance to do some credible research in pure mathematics(or in any field). Everything was going according to the plan. My CGPA was good, had some research papers in engineering field and was working on a math research paper. And I didn’t even apply for the on campus internship opportunity because of this plan. So going ahead with my plan, I applied in some foreign research internship programs including MITACS, EPFL Summer Research Program and NTU Summer India Connect Program.
Semester 6(A Twist in THE PLAN) : Now comes a very critical moment in my plan : Summer Research Internship
But as they say “The best plan is when there is no plan” and all of sudden everything started falling. Rejections were coming one after the other. First came the EPFL one which was expected, then MITACS which was not expected because I was put in “Candidate under consideration” category but wasn’t contacted by any professor. Meanwhile I was also applying to some Indian Summer research program as well like SRFP, ICTS, TIFR-CAM, IIT’s and IISER’s. But I was rejected in all of the above programs. I mailed many Professors for summer intern but some didn’t reply, some were busy in their own work and some had already taken interns before my mail. And watching my friends joining top companies like Google, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft etc. as interns was very hard for me. I got so dejected by the fact that I couldn’t even secure an internship(leave foreign internship). All I wanted was to know the reason behind all these rejections so that I could improve upon it. My plan had failed and at that time, I was so confused what to do next? How can I still pursue a career in Math? These questions were going in my head all day. And at the same time, my parents were trying to convince me to prepare for college placements.
Summer 2019 (Decider) : So, I decided to discuss this issue with my advisor(He is currently pursuing his PhD from IIT Delhi and he used to teach me during my JEE preparation days). He told me that lack of basic knowledge (courses like Real Analysis, Algebra etc.) of pure math could be one of the reasons behind all the rejections. And then he advised me prepare for exams like JAM, GATE etc. and pursue masters from top institute in India and then apply for PhD abroad. He said that Masters from India would help me to fill this hole of basic knowledge of pure math. I thought about it for a while, discussed it with my parents and eventually decided to prepare for these exams and pursue masters from India. My parents also told me to prepare for the oncampus placements along with the preparation of these exams but somehow it was very hard to prepare for both of them. I tried to convince them to let me prepare for JAM, GATE etc. only and finally I managed to convince them. After that it was no turning back and I focused only on preparing for these exams.
February 2020 (IIT JAM) : Before JAM, I had given many exams including TIFR GS, CSIR NET, NBHM PhD and GATE but this was the most important one(WHY??). My preparation(I will be posting about my preparation strategy in a different post) was going well and I was very excited to appear in JAM. On February 9th, I appeared in JAM. My target was to score around 80 marks and I ended up scoring 79.67/100 which was enough to get me a rank under 20. I was very happy with my performance because with this score I would get the IIT of my choice and also a call for interview from IISC Bangalore, IISER Pune and IISER Mohali.