Today’s blog post is a culmination of some resources related to moving on past your undergraduate education! I hope they help!
Grad School/Job Search. The first resource is a template for an email related to an informational interview (linked here). This resource is to help students initiate contact with either graduate students or professionals in a field of interest. The goal of an informational interview is for students to gain a better picture of what a day in the life looks like in that field and hopefully to help students understand if that is the field or job for them. This is not a formal rule of an email – but it might help break the ice.
Grad School in STEM. The second resource is a template for a “first email” to a faculty member that a student wants to work with and should be deployed when looking for a graduate school in the STEM research fields (usually the summer before the application is due). These emails are crucial if you’d like to go to grad school in one of these fields and is an important first step to understanding if the mentor will be a good fit for you. This letter is for after students have decided they would like to go to grad school in a STEM field. At this point, students should have done some brainstorming and searching to understand what topic they are either interested in or what school/topic will get them the skills they need to achieve their career goals. Once they have narrowed that down, students should search for papers on your favorite academic search engine that are both recent (last few years) and relevant (I prefer Google Scholar). Read abstracts of many papers and read all of a few papers in a field of interest to you. If you find one that is inspiring to you, look at the author list. Google the authors and find out who the PI was for the paper (this might require help from the faculty/grad students at your current institution because different fields have different rules for where the PI comes up in the author list). Once you have found that PI – send them an email like this one (linked here). For context, in my first go around with these I sent emails to about 10 PI's. This is by no means a “rule” of an email – but I highly suggest you include all of this information.
Interviewing. Finally, this resource (link) will help you practice both virtual and in-person interview skills so that you don’t fall into common pitfalls when nervous. Its not free – but it might help, especially if you are very nervous talking to folks you don’t know.
Best of luck!
I am a Ph.D. Candidate who actively tries to create an equitable and enriching experience for undergraduate researchers, I post weekly about the things I teach and my experiences with undergraduates.