Write an email that your supervisor will read and reply
Supervisors are very busy people. You might think that they have only a few hours class a week, but they are also doing hundred other things like research, grant writing, workshops, book publishing etc. On top of that, they also get hundred other emails daily from students who wants them to be their supervisor. So how do you stand out from the crowd?
Write the best email subject ever : “Prospective Phd Student”
Start with the keyword – “Prospective Phd Student” and add in your year. It guarantees that your supervisor will open your email at least. Why? Because part of their jobscope is to train more PhDs. Besides that, as an academician they love getting smart students. So if you put your subject saying you are a prospective Phd Student, your supervisor will most probably open the email.
So the key to get that email opened is subject line “Prospective Phd Student 2012/2013″ . Until I started with that I had about 5% reply rate. After I put that subject line in email, the reply rate went to 80% and above.
First paragraph : Your Name, what you do and how you found him / her
Your first paragraph should be your name and what you do. Example
Dear Professor ABC_full name,
I am Avijit Paul and I work as a tutor in Faculty of Creative Multimedia at Multimedia University, Malaysia. I read at <website name, journal name> about your various projects involving emerging technologies, big data analysis and natural disaster.
What this tells your potential supervisor that you have an idea what he or she is doing while informing where you are from and how your work may be related to his. Please try not to write more than 3 lines. And before I forget, first email it is best to write his or her full name.
Second paragraph: Brief summary of your RELATED experience
Immediately after that you should tell him or her what have you done so far that makes you qualified to work under his or her supervision and how you may potentially contribute. Example:
So far I have worked mostly on small scale mobile applications and virtual reality projects and for last one year I had been working on iPhone, android and nokia apps, Augmented Reality and games using various middleware programs such as Unity3d, Appcelerator etc. Besides that, I have created various websites over last 8 years.
Third paragraph: Action line – what you expect him or her to do
So you have informed who you are, what you do and how you got to know him. You have also informed how you have done related work. Now is call for action. Tell him that you want to work with him or her. Example:
After reading your profile and your list of projects at the website I am very eager to know about research opportunities to work with you.
That’s it: And Keep it to 10 line
Basically once you write that, you are done. Before you send the email, please double check, tripple check your spelling. If you have wrong spelling, you are just reducing your chance of getting the reply!! So make sure the spelling is correct. End with:
And it is really important to keep the email short because if the professor is interested, he or she will ask more. If not, they will ignore or sometimes suggest who you can potentially contact.
So if you have done what I suggested, you will surely increase your chance of getting your email read and hopefully you wil get some positive reply.
Oh ya, Use a non funky email address please
This is a post from Assistant Professor Dr. Chris Blattman of Yale that I stumbled upon. It tells you some very importnat stuff that I missed such as having a non-funky email address.
Kick the email address from high school. It’s time for “email@example.com” and “firstname.lastname@example.org” to rest in peace.
So if you are Mikey Walsh, you should have a mikey.walsh at gmail rather that having the “cool” nickenames.
Go ahead and read the 12 points – they are definitely worth your time: http://chrisblattman.com/2010/11/08/students-how-to-email-to-your-professor-employer-and-professional-peers/
[Image courtesy of Daily blog tips ]