IROP: a few words

Are you seriously considering a career in research? Do you want to discover new places while doing what you love? Or maybe you just want to spend your summer in an exciting way? The International Research Opportunities Programme (IROP) might be for you! It is an exchange programme which allows you to undertake a 2-month research internship at world-class Imperial partner institutions, with all costs covered by a bursary. This includes accommodation, food, flights and a visa!

Where can you go?

When I say “world-class institutions”, I really mean it. For example, Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the partner universities and Imperial students have placements there every year. Other institutions are equally world-class and usually located in either North America or Asia.

This summer, Imperial students are going to the following universities in addition to MIT:

  • University of Toronto Mississauga
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of California, Los Angeles

My IROP application story

The only way of finding out if you’re eligible for IROP and how to apply for it is via your department.

In my case, the Department of Computing sent an e-mail about the programme to second year students in January. The message said there was an opportunity for 2 students to have a summer research internship at MIT through IROP.

The application process consisted of two stages. For the first stage, I had to submit the following documents:

  • CV
  • Academic transcript
  • Motivation statement

For the motivation statement, I had to explain why I wanted to go to MIT, what research area I was interested in and why.

There was also a requirement of being on-track for a first-class degree. I’ll probably not lie if I say there’s a strong link between your chances of succeeding and your first-year grades (although I’m sure they’re not the only factor).

A few days after submitting my application, I received an invitation for an interview. It was a 15-minute meeting with one person from the department and one person from the International Relations Office. The interview was a mix of technical, motivational and general questions. I also had an opportunity to ask my own questions about IROP.

To be honest, I didn’t believe I would be selected. This is why a positive decision e-mail shocked me! As you may guess, I accepted the offer immediately.

So far, I have received some preliminary forms to fill in and an information pack about the programme itself and preparation for it.

I am very happy to be given this unique opportunity and I will definitely write a report during or after my placement. I really hope that the COVID-19 situation will stabilise by the end of June, so the exchange could safely go ahead.

UPDATE (01/04/2020): Unfortunately, Imperial and MIT have decided to cancel this year’s exchange. It’s not an April Fools joke and I perfectly understand the situation despite my disappointment. Please stay safe!

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