gallifrey Posted January 6, 2011 Share Posted January 6, 2011 Hello, all. Undergraduate student here interested in going to grad school. To cut to the chase, I simply don't know how to network or even how to approach professors to ask for LORs or possible research positions. I mean, all right, I understand theoretically how to go about it: Shoot off an email to a professor/potential research adviser introducting myself and saying I'm interested in what he/she is doing, would you like to meet up with me sometime to discuss [iNSERT TOPIC HERE], prepare a few questions, are you willing to take on an undergrad as a research assistant, so on and so forth, yadda yadda ... Unfortunately, my brain likes to balk every time I feel like I'm just about ready to inquire after these positions. Oh, what if the professor says no? What if he/she's busy and gets annoyed? What if I sound like an idiot? What if I run out of questions to ask? Think about the awkward silences ... you know, the usual. I completely freeze up and tell myself that, hey, maybe I can email them next week! There's no hurry to it, right? (All of this exacerbated by the fact that all the people I have emailed re: research and help with the grad school admissions process have not returned my emails. I know it's nothing personal, but still it's a bit of a blow to the ego.) Needless to say, this is a bit of a problem. I need to start working on it, and quickly. Most of it, I believe, boils down to the fact that I simply don't know how to interact with authority figures. I mean, I do well in class, but that's about it. I don't go to office hours - it's not that I don't have questions; it's that I feel my questions are better directed to the TAs (after all, that's what they're there for), and I don't want to waste a professor's time with trivial questions that I can most likely figure out on my own by doing some digging on the internet - and I just ... I don't know. I'm soft-spoken, shy, reserved, and generally awkward with people I don't know well. It's bad enough with simple strangers (even those I consider my peers); it's even worse with people with big names in my field. I'm so afraid of making a bad impression that I settle for making no impression at all. I am absolutely abysmal with making small talk. Sometimes it's like watching a train slowly dive off a cliff into the Grand Canyon. (Lots of echoing going on with me repeating what the other person says!) Again, intellectually, I know how to make small talk, but it just doesn't work for me. I'm not sure why. I suppose at this point I should probably pick up Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends & Influence People." Other than that ... any other advice/support will be very much appreciated. Thanks. tl;dr - I don't communicate well with others and especially professors. How can I possibly go about fixing this? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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