Tips for Approaching Faculty
You will need a mentor for your research. Your faculty mentor may be a professor you've taken a class with and know well, or it may be a professor you've only heard about. In either case, there are several things you can do to professionally approach a faculty member about a research project.
- It may take more than one meeting to arrange a research project. Both you and the faculty member must decide if you are a good fit for each other and if the project is feasible. Keep an open mind as you go into the meeting and with an attitude of exploring a possibility, not demanding a mentor.
- Take time to research the faculty member you hope to work with. Be familiar with the professor's most recent research, courses, and published materials. Do you have compatible interests? Faculty web pages are good resources for this information.
- Go into the meeting with a clear research interest that you can easily express. You may want to prepare a few questions or topics to guide the conversation and show the professor that you've spent time thinking about this project. The goal of this meeting is to leave your potential mentor with a clear idea of your research interest and convinced of your enthusiasm and talent.
- Ask for feedback on your idea. The professor may be able to recommend helpful reading materials. He or she might even suggest you contact a different faculty member who would be a better match for your project.
After the meeting, send a thank you note or email. If you still feel he or she is a good match, have a second meeting to discuss details about the potential research project and arrange to receive academic credit.