It’s always tough to know how to approach anyone when you’re looking for a job. And the academic field somehow sounds especially tough.
One science professor — who’s less than warm and fuzzy — gives some advice in the Chronicle of Higher Education about how to approach a potential graduate adviser through e-mail.
The key thing to remember: Your first e-mail to a potential graduate adviser should be professional and short.
What to include:
- Name of your undergrad institution
- Major and minor fields
- Graduation date
- Relevant research experience
- Field of interest for grad study
- Whether you’re interested in just a master’s, a master’s and possibly a PhD, or definitely a PhD
- A request to meet — such as at a conference — if you’re really serious about working with the adviser. Just understand that he or she may not have time.
- Requests for specific, relevant information you can’t get any other way
What not to include:
- Questions of money (tuition, benefits, salary for a research assistantship)
- Information about your personal circumstances (spouses, significant others, etc.)
- Your full CV (though you could always include a link to one)
- A statement informing the adviser that you’ll be meeting. (That’s presumptuous.)
- A request for the adviser’s cell phone number
- A Facebook friend request
- Vague requests for more information
- Anything that makes your note look like a mass e-mail
One last tip:
Find out who the adviser’s current and recent grad students are and ask them about their experience with that professor.