12 February 2010

How to make your prof ♥ you

I’ve been finding a lot of students have no idea how to go about finding out about research opportunities. So, here’s one for you students.

Clear out some time. If a prof’s door is open, knock and ask if you can come in. If you’re too intimidated by dropping in, email and ask for an appointment. Once you get in the office, ask this magic question:

“Could you tell me a bit about your research?”

Be ready for a loooooong conversation. Because the truth is, not very many people ask about our research, so to have anyone showing any sort of interest is something we enjoy. Heck, very often even our own colleagues don’t ask what we’re working on most of the time.

That conversation can totally change the tone of your dialogue with your professor – in a good way – for a long time. Think about it. Which conversation do you think a professor would rather have?

“Can you tell me about your research?”

versus some variation of:

“Can you sign this form?”
“Can you calculate my best possible grade for your class?”
“Can I take a make-up exam?”

Which conversation do you think a prof would rather have? And which conversation do you think a prof has more often?

1 comment:

Whimsical Trovers said...

When I was a wee lass in my first semester in college I inadvertantly did this with my first history prof. I did it because I used to talk to my high school history teacher about his research, and learned more there than I ever learned in class. And the same thing happened in college, and, incidentally, he got me into doors I didn't know about, and recommended reading I didn't know about, and we became friends (always good!), and even colleagues much later on. And I did this with other professors over the years, and they were always ready to talk and make a little time for me, and you just can't beat that. We didn't all get along, and we sure didn't all become friends, but I learned from everyone, and I hope everyone had a chance to discuss what REALLY interested them with me.

Professors are People! Sometimes even cool people! With cool interests and the need to bounce them off of others! You make me miss academia, man!