How to apply for an undergraduate research position

Being in research is a piece of work. As an undergraduate, it is very difficult to get a training or short term project work in a reputed research lab. I’ve been going through this for a while and thought I should share some points with you:

The most common reasons for rejection:

1. The professor didn’t read your email.
2. He rejected because he isn’t interested in undergraduates. Usually professors dislike training a newbie. They like people who are experienced.
3. The professor is away, out for the summer.
4. His lab is full.

In any of the above cases, persistence is the key. If you keep on mailing, he is forced to reply.
Your letter should be very concise but include important details like your name, institute, education, experience and most importantly why you want to work under him. The GPA score isn’t necessary. You need to convince that guy that he must employ you. 

Some tips:

1. Write a personalized email. Go through the professor’s recent work and tell him what you liked in it. Ask him questions about his research. Most people love to talk about their research.

2. Attend conferences/workshops/seminars. They are a great place to get in touch with experts. No amount of electronic communication can replace face to face communication.

3. Another way to quickly get in touch with a professor is through recommendation. Tell your teachers about the field you are interested in. They might recommend you to someone they know!

3. Show them appreciation and respect. The tone of your letter is a big factor in the decision he makes.

4. If he doesn’t reply in a week, write a follow up email. If he doesn’t this time, remind him next week.  If he rejects, find out why and if you can solve the problem, do it.  However, if he doesn’t reply for more than a month or so, it is best to give up for now.

5. Don’t panic if you don’t know much about his field of research. There is a reason you are a student.

6. If everything else fails, start a project in your institute. Make the best out of what you have.

Here is an excellent post about writing emails with sample.

I hope you get the best out of your college life. Share with me your tips. I’m always curious!

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: We turned 50! | One student tip a day

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