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general question

Posted: Tue May 22, 2007 1:11 pm
by methionine
I decided to post in this forum, just because I want to do a project in biology.
During the school year, I worked at a lab in the city. While I loved working at this lab (I had a fantastic mentor-- she was so helpful and yet still helped me understand my project fairly well), it was extremely tiring and time-consuming to run to the city after school every day-- it took at least 2 hours of commute. Next year, I most likely will not have the time to do this sort of thing, especially with my intensified courseload in school.
I want to see if another lab/mentor will take me (one closer to my school), but should I approach them with a research topic in mind already, or should I ask them to accept me and then "take on" whatever topics they happen to be doing at the lab? I've gotten the impression that the answer to "what made you interested in this topic?" is important, and I don't just want to say, "because that's what my mentor's lab was doing." hehe. Also, would it be rude to explain that the reason why I wanted to work there (at the closer lab) was because I don't have the time to go to the lab in the city?

thanks,
-M

Re: general question

Posted: Tue May 22, 2007 1:55 pm
by kmanies
I think most people would understand the commute issue, so don't worry if its comes up (i.e., don't lie about it), but it would be good to have another answer that would pertain to that person's lab. It would be well worth your while to investigate what that lab does and what you might want to get out of it. It doesn't need to be a earth shattering answer, just enough to let the person know you're interested in what they'd be able to teach you.

Because you are a high school student I wouldn't worry about having a topic in mind - at this point all I'd want to see was a willingness and curiosity to learn as well as some responsibility. Since it seems you have a good relationship with your other mentor, be sure to ask if she would be willing to be a reference and offer her name/number to your perspective employees as such.

Good luck.

-Kristen

methionine wrote:I decided to post in this forum, just because I want to do a project in biology.
During the school year, I worked at a lab in the city. While I loved working at this lab (I had a fantastic mentor-- she was so helpful and yet still helped me understand my project fairly well), it was extremely tiring and time-consuming to run to the city after school every day-- it took at least 2 hours of commute. Next year, I most likely will not have the time to do this sort of thing, especially with my intensified courseload in school.
I want to see if another lab/mentor will take me (one closer to my school), but should I approach them with a research topic in mind already, or should I ask them to accept me and then "take on" whatever topics they happen to be doing at the lab? I've gotten the impression that the answer to "what made you interested in this topic?" is important, and I don't just want to say, "because that's what my mentor's lab was doing." hehe. Also, would it be rude to explain that the reason why I wanted to work there (at the closer lab) was because I don't have the time to go to the lab in the city?

thanks,
-M

Posted: Wed May 30, 2007 4:32 pm
by methionine
Thanks-- but would it be rude to cite my qualifications? I think the researcher I am emailing will need some convincing and/or persistence...

Posted: Thu May 31, 2007 7:08 am
by Louise
methionine wrote:Thanks-- but would it be rude to cite my qualifications? I think the researcher I am emailing will need some convincing and/or persistence...


I'd see if your current mentor can arrange some appointments for you with other professors. Professors get a _lot_ of email from people wanting jobs, so it is best if you can get in through networking.

If you can't do this, I think a short email explaining 1) why you are interested in their research 2) why you want to talk to them about the research 3) how your (past) research lead to your interest in this area. This email isn't a job application, so I don't think you should list all your prizes, but a "I was studying topic Y with Prof. Q at University W and it made me think about your research question blah" is good.

Keep it short. Use standard business English. My bosses get dozens of letters like this a week. Sloppy, informal writing assures a fast "delete"!

Good luck.

Louise



Louise