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Programs Contacting a research group

  1. Apr 26, 2016 #1
    I applied to an undergraduate program at a nearby national lab that is tailored for students in the region. I was advised by one of the program staff to contact a research group that I'm interested in working with to let them know that I'm in the applicant pool, and that I am interested in working for them along and also my credentials. Would it be appropriate to email the research group leader directly, or should i just contact the administrative assistant for the group?
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  3. Apr 27, 2016 #2
    If the group has an administrative assistant I'd say to contact them first. My guess would be that it's better to contact someone too low on the chain than to contact someone too high on the chain.
  4. Apr 27, 2016 #3
    I don't know what an "administrative assistant for the group" is. Administrative staff in my experience is somewhat detached from the scientific work. You need to a) talk with someone who knows what the group is actually doing in detail and b) get the group leader informed at some point. I recommend directly writing to the group leader. If he/she wants to delegate a) to someone on the staff he/she can still do that.
  5. Apr 27, 2016 #4

    Andy Resnick

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    Yes, and I encourage you to first compose a well-thought letter clearly explaining *why* you are interested in working with that *particular* group. If you really want to make a good first impression, call the researcher (or leave a message on voicemail), quickly introduce yourself and ask to send the email (which also contains a resume and contact information) so that it doesn't get routed to spam.
  6. Apr 27, 2016 #5
    I'm not one of the most stellar students; so: I'm normally filtered out of the top candidates by administrators, and my best means for an internship or working position is to contact the lead research scientists or PI directly.

    If you pursue a position using this method, then you most definitely want to do your research. Use your school's network to look up their publications and presentations, or read their webpage if they have one to learn more about their opportunity. Be diligent. I also find that asking questions really helps, and it shows interest and your understanding of their project or team. Don't just call or e-mail asking for a job.

    Good luck!
  7. Apr 27, 2016 #6
    I'm curious about your advice. It sounds like the OP is trying to join a pretty large group (maybe for a "big science" experiment), so it's likely that the research group leader has nothing to do with bringing aboard an undergraduate. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
  8. Apr 27, 2016 #7


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    If the program staff suggested that you contact the research group directly, then do so. Make sure you indicated at the beginning of your e-mail that so-and-so at such-and-such program recommended that you contact this person.

    I would go directly to the group leader. If he/she doesn't have time to respond, or if there is already a designated person to handle undergraduate interns (I was one of those people who gets forwarded e-mail in my old group whenever our group leader got this type of e-mail), then he/she will forward it to the appropriate individual.

  9. Apr 27, 2016 #8

    Andy Resnick

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    I made no assumptions other than what my preferences are when an undergrad contacts me about doing research in my lab.
  10. Apr 27, 2016 #9
    Thanks for the input, everyone. I decided to email the group leader. I would consider the group to be somewhat small. Probably 20+ people.
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