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Ask a Professor from another school

  1. Mar 5, 2014 #1
    Hi everyone,

    Has anyone ever e-mailed a professor from another school to try to do research for them over the summer?

    I'm a Masters student in physics and i do research in Astronomy. i want to go to certain schools for a PhD program. Say I wanted to go to UCLA, i feel like if i could work for someone over the summer, and impress them, then maybe ill make more of an impact when i finally do apply.

    Would it be too soon to e-mail a professor (whose work interests you and is similar to your own) now? Not even sure how i'd word things. ><

    From Melissa
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 6, 2014 #2

    Andy Resnick

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    I periodically get emails like what you discuss. Uniformly, the student has given no thought as to who is going to pay them- if I may be blunt, I prefer to pay 'my' students instead of an external student (and not just because of payroll headaches).

    Also, your post seems to imply you are hoping for some sort of 'internship' arrangement with the goal of future employment. Personally, and I may be at variance with the larger community here, I categorically oppose unpaid internships. To be sure, I have graduate students who choose (with mutual assent) to perform a lab rotation, and they are unpaid. However, they are also enrolled students and they earn college credit hours. I am unaware of anyone who is willing to 'try out' an un-enrolled student.

    So, here's my suggestion- do your homework. I would take a *phone call* from a student that not only expresses interest in working with me but also offers ideas on how to get paid (a summer fellowship, for example- but there may not be many geared towards graduate students) much more seriously than a tossed-off email.
  4. Mar 6, 2014 #3


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    If I were a professor at UCLA, I would already have plenty of students within the school itself wanting to work for me over the summer. Even in smaller schools, I get 3 to 4 requests to work over the summer, and I can only take in what funding is available to support them. So why would I want to consider a student from another school?

    And it isn't just about funding availability. In my experience, undergraduate students require A LOT more hand-holding, and a lot more supervision, then a graduate student. So it will require a lot of my time for each one that I take on.

    You are better off seeking REUs, SULI, or DOE internships where you can go to other facility and institutions where they welcome you.

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