Step 7: Making Faculty Contacts
Finding a faculty member to mentor you in your research is one of the most important steps in the process. It can also be one of the most challenging. (Next to deciding on a research question!) It doesn't have to be that scary if you follow some basic guidelines.
- As with the research process, the earlier you begin developing relationships with faculty the better off you'll be when it comes time to do research.
- If you're planning on going abroad, it's best to connect with faculty before you go because while you're abroad, and when you get back, you'll need a core "mentor/advisor" to help you with your research.
- How you approach faculty matters. Go as well prepared as you can. Know what you want to do (or at least have a clearly devised plan). Know faculty expertise - do some background research on the professor. Demonstrate a link to the faculty member between their expertise and your research interests.
- How you email faculty matters too. Be sure that your sender identification (the name associated with your email account), subject line, and the body of your email are clear, correct, and purposeful.
- While we strongly recommended that first meeting take place face-to-face, this might not be possible if you are abroad. If you have to email a professor, make sure that you briefly articulate who you are, where you are, and why you are writing. In 2-3 sentences briefly explain your research topic and governing question, your preparation to undertake the research project (language proficiency, courses taken, previous papers or experience with the topic), the type of project you plan to complete, and what type of advice or support you are seeking from the faculty member.
- Ask faculty you know to help facilitate the first meeting, including email contact. Another professor can contact with other faculty to help you get connected.
- Be prepared for your meetings!
- Formulate your research question(s) or 2-3 sentences that describe your research quickly and concisely to faculty.
- Prepare a one-page prospectus (See Step 9: Writing a Research Prospectus)
Additional Resources on Making Faculty Contacts: