15 February 2008

Mentor choice

A very common question asked by students interested in our program is, "Who would I work for?"

In our program -- and, I believe, most programs -- that is largely up to the student. We have a list of mentors who participate in the program, and there is a spot on the application form that asks who you are interested in working with.

A few tips.

First, talk to possible mentors. Remember, the mentors are involved in the selection process that determines who goes into the program. You want to introduce yourself and try to have them on your side before you submit your application. It's even better if you get to know them well enough that they will be one of the people providing you with a letter of recommendation.

Second, try to find a happy medium in indicating who you want to work with. If you select only one mentor, you're really limiting yourself. If another student wants to work with that mentor, you could cut yourself out of the program if you leave no other choice. On the other hand, it doesn't look good if you check the boxes for every mentor, either. That just makes you look like you're complete adrift and have no idea what it is you're interested in.

Finally, keep an open mind. Just because you might be interested in ultimately doing research on, say, polar bear ecology, do not think, "Oh, nobody works on polar bear ecology, so I shouldn't apply." Even if no one works on polar bear ecology, maybe there's someone working on ecology. There's always stuff to learn that can be applicable to later study and research, particularly if you go on to graduate school.

No comments: