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Contacting Research Mentors

  1. Dec 10, 2014 #1
    Greetings forum-goers,

    I am planning to apply for a DHS summer internship, where I am encouraged to contact research mentors (although it's stated that OSRI makes the hiring decision).

    I plan on cold emailing several mentors and, besides introducing myself and mentioning how I am interested in their DHS project, I don't know what else I should say.

    I really want this internship. What are some things I should mention when emailing a research mentor, who will hopefully have some influence on a hiring decision? What's a good introduction?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 10, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Have you looked up what papers they've published? That may help you craft an informed introduction.

    As an example, you compliment them on some paper you've read recently that they wrote, ask some questions though not too detailed and then go into the internship interest.
  4. Dec 11, 2014 #3
    That sounds good. Thanks for the idea.
  5. Dec 11, 2014 #4


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    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I think its a good idea to do some background reading on the work of the professor you're interested in working with, but just be careful about "overshooting" this approch.

    Your goal, in contacting a potential mentor, is to get (or at least assess for yourself if you want to get) an internship. There's no point in trying to hide this or trying to impress someone with your knowledge of what they have done and then casually slip in a hint that you might be interested in an internship.

    It's perfectly fine to write an email along the lines of: Dear Professor, I am an Nth year undergraduate student at X University and I am very interested in the internship/project you have posted.
  6. Dec 11, 2014 #5
    I think I'm echoing Choppy's advice here.

    I think introducing yourself and mentioning that you are interested in their project is everything you should say.
  7. Dec 16, 2014 #6
    Since I couldn't find any publications by a few mentors, I decided to test "contacting a mentor", by simply introducing myself, stating my research interests, my interest in their project, and asking whether my interests were related to their project. I tried this with one mentor, emailing them this morning. I'm still waiting for a reply, though I imagine they can be busy.
  8. Dec 16, 2014 #7
    How much did it cost you to do that?

    Once you've answered that, answer this: how much would it cost you to do it 19 more times? Or 99?
  9. Dec 16, 2014 #8
    Thanks for the pep talk.
  10. Dec 16, 2014 #9


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    Staff: Mentor

    Different colleges/universities are on different academic calendars. For what it's worth, at the college where I work, final exams were last week, grades were due yesterday (Monday), and campus is very quiet this week as professors scatter off to recover from the end of the semester, start doing Christmas shopping, etc. Most of the people on campus are administrators and administrative staff.
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