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Advice for an Undergrad on Approaching Physics Profs for Summer Work

  1. May 2, 2007 #1
    I am here at UC Davis for the summer and I would like to work while I am here. Since I am new to the UC system, I am somewhat inexperienced with regards to the proper ettiquette in going about these sorts of matters. What is the appropriate way to approach a professor about summer work? Is e-mail OK? I have never met any of these professors, there is just a list of the experiments/professors who hire undergrads. I have a few skills, like MATLAB, JAVA, and circuit construction (though none with PCB design or SMD soldering, at least not yet). I have good grades, but since I am a transfer student I am not sure how this is viewed as compared to the students who have done all of their course work at the university.

    Should I simply ask them if positions are available, and if they are set up appointments to meet with them? If said appointments do happen, should I plan on dressing up somewhat, bringing a resume of some sort, or what? Just go in casually and talk about my experience and what I hope to contribute?

    All advice is welcome and appreciated!

  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2007 #2
    Also, what are some general rules for addressing professors through e-mail? I usually go something like this:

    Dear Professor Einstein,



    ... (keep it brief)

    Yours Faithfully,

    Colin McEnroe

    And if they reply to me, I always reply with a thank you to terminate the conversation. Does this seem appropriate, or too formal? I can never tell what is and isn't OK with e-mail.
  4. May 2, 2007 #3
    I'm an undergrad in the UC system as well, and here at Santa Cruz the professors couldn't be more friendly. The ettiquette here is that if you're interested in a specific project, then you simply find the professor in charge, and go to his office to introduce yourself and ask about what you could do to help. Email would probably be good to initially introduce yourself, and then you could set up a specific time to get together and meet.
    Good luck.

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