Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Student seeking position

There have been many posts on many blogs about the correct way and the incorrect way to get into grad school, get a post-doc position and get an academic job. While I realize that the people who probably should be reading the present post, won't, maybe word will spread, and people will learn.

Things not to do:

don't send emails like:

Dear Prof. X,

I am a student at X university. I am interested in a research position in X field in your group this fall. My GRE/TOEFL scores are ###. Can I join your research group this fall?

Sincerely,
Interested student

Maybe not all professors, but I explicitly say on my web-page when I have openings and when I don't (right now I don't). And even if I did - it is fall! If you haven't already been admitted to the school, you aren't going to be starting now! You kind of missed the cycle.

Second, I don't admit students, the school does. Only after a student applies to the school should they bother contacting me. Yes - profs can pull strings, but if an application doesn't exist in the "system" there are no strings to pull.

Don't address the email to the wrong professor. This may seem obvious - but I actually got an email from a person looking for a post-doc position which was addressed to a different prof at a different school. Clearly, the wrong cover letter. It just starts things out on the wrong foot. And don't address "Dear sir/madam". Also annoying. I have a picture on my webpage. I'm clearly not a sir.

If you have applied to the school, and verified your application is in, then, yes, by all means, contact professors. In fact, I would encourage undergrads to contact profs in that tentative in between time after the app is submitted but before they have heard something. That is the crucial time.

If you get in, contact profs early (not once the school year has started), but in the spring, to inquire about openings for the next year. Especially if it is a prof with a popular group. I stopped taking new students in June, long before the start of the school year.

But don't send fishing emails before you have even applied. It is very annoying. I still respond. I know many profs who don't (which I think it rather rude - but then I only get 2-3/day, I'm sure they get many more).

1 comment:

muddled grad student said...

What is more funny is the emails I get -
a)I'm a grad student so asking to work in my lab from me is going to get them no where.
b)cutting and pasting my research interests from my website as an area they would like to work in is probably not the way to go
c)Since they obviously went to my website they should see that I am not a "Dear Sir"!! (and am a student)

I toss them as funny but these just seem like mass mailers with minimal website searches, so they are probably ruining any chances they have with real profs by taking this approach.