Cold emailing potential mentors for the first time can be intimidating, so we have outlined some tips and tricks!
Stage 1: Prepare
Do your background research
After identifying a mentor you want to work with (through your classes, department websites, opportunities database, networking, etc.), do some background research about them.
- What research projects are they working on?
- What have they published lately?
- Who is on their team?
Reflect on your own interests
After learning about the mentor, reflect on how their research connects with your own interests.
- Why are you interested in their research?
- What specific projects interest you?
- How does their research connect to your own goals and passions?
Stage 2: Reach Out
Writing the email
Now that you have an understanding of your potential mentor’s research and how it connects with your own interests, you can start drafting your email. Introductory emails typically begin with a short sentence on who you are and why you are reaching out. The body section includes why you are interested in their research and how it connects to your own interests (what you did above!). You can conclude your email by requesting a meeting and providing your availability.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Keep your email concise. You want enough detail to convey interest and express yourself authentically, but you want it to be easy to read.
- Some mentors are really busy – you may have to reach out to multiple mentors before receiving a response, but that is totally normal! We recommend waiting 7 business days before sending a follow up email and recommend reaching out to one faculty member at a time.
- In many cases, you do not need prior research experience to get involved in research! You can still secure a position by conveying your goals, passions, and how your past experiences and skills would translate into a research setting.
- You do not need to attach a resume to your introductory email and many mentors do not request one. However, if you believe it will help you stand out, you can choose to include it. Check out the Career and Internship Center for resume guidance and sample resume templates!