I'm a current master's student hoping to apply to PhD programs starting later this year.
A few of the programs I've been looking at don't have strict deadlines which is great. However, for other programs, it feels like I don't have much time left.
What worries me the most is experience and LORs.
Aside from my undergrad, I have one internship and two years of work experience (worked after finishing undergrad, and 1 of those years is more relevant than the other. It is what it is and I needed the money). I'm hoping that I will be a co-author on a paper (work in progress) soon. Sometimes I feel like thinking everyone will have a lot of experience is unrealistic. While we may try, things don't work out all the time for everyone. Someone has to win, someone has to lose, and making stuff up about a conference you attended when all you really did was spend what felt like 5 minutes max. at your school's booth since nobody was stopping by anyway just shouldn't work on a PhD application.
I am currently looking into workshops, internships , and similar opportunities for more experience. Unfortunately, I will likely be unable to do this internship during my studies, but who knows, maybe I'll end up taking a leave of absence for it (assuming it happens).
And now comes my biggest worry so hopefully this post will stay in the subforum: LORs.
I have a couple of professors from undergrad that helped me get into my master's, but I realize that for a PhD, it is best for my LORs to speak about graduate-level research experience. Unfortunately, my current advisors and I do not get along well. I am considering sucking it up and asking the one I worked with more closely for help (they should be happy if I land an opportunity to talk about research, right?). However, it feels like I am not close with either. I am in the lab when they are in their offices/ gone to who knows where all the time. As a result, it is as though PhD students, postdocs, and a couple of associate professors once in a blue moon are advising me more than my "advisors" are, and it always feel like I am talking to someone different each day.
I am trying to talk more to one of these associate professors. This situation sucks, especially when I compare my situation to other master's students in the department, who have supervisors they adore. Next time when I ask about an advisor's style, I will assume it's the exact opposite of whatever someone tells me because I am sick and tired of this, and I'd really like an advisor who is there and doesn't act like they're too important to bother talking with me. One other thing I was considering was approaching this one other professor I met from a few courses about a problem I was experiencing in my research (assuming this actually does turn out to be an actual problem and not a mistake on my part) to maybe explore the issue further as this is something they specialize in (although there are a lot of time constraints...). While this is not what I want to do in the future (actually, none of what I've done so far is, yay expectations mismatching with reality), and funding can be an issue, it's better than nothing.
Does anyone have any advice for improving PhD applications (in a short-ish period of time)? Who should I consider for a LOR in my situation? Would working for someone for only a couple of months work? Thanks in advance!