Networking via Email
Networking via email can be a powerful tool for opening doors to employment, internships, and applications. Whether you’re connecting with a researcher in your area of interest, contacting an alum about housing leads, or writing to friend of a friend or family member for an informational interview, email outreach is an often-overlooked path forward in all of your professionally minded endeavors.
Do your research first. Learn about the person you’re writing to and the work they are doing. Be certain this person is someone who might be able to help you and make sure the ask isn’t too big. Unless Bill Gates is your uncle, for example, don’t write to him for a job shadow. If you see an interesting position in Handshake, go through the application process as prescribed in the job description. But if you read something that intrigues you in a journal or on a website or your professor mentions a colleague at another school doing research that lines up with your interest, reaching out via email makes good sense.
Networking via email is especially useful for students with an F1 visa interested in research opportunities, as many summer research programs in the United States can only accept U.S. citizens/permanent residents. For seniors looking for a job or a community in a new city, this kind of outreach email is a great way to find a position that might not be advertised or an apartment before it’s widely available. Smaller companies without established job shadow or internship programs could create such opportunities for the right candidate.
So how do you structure this email? Keep it short, direct, and polite:
- Use a descriptive subject line: Neuropeptide Receptors in Schizophrenia Research Opportunities
- Be formal: Dear Dr. Banks:
- Make a connection: Reading your recent paper on the role of neuropeptide receptors in schizophrenia was a highlight of my neuroscience seminar course this year. I’m very interested in your work in this area.
- Briefly introduce yourself: I am a third-year student at Grinnell College majoring in biological chemistry with a concentration in neuroscience.
- Give the context for your email:
- I intend to apply for graduate programs in molecular neuroscience next year.
- I hope to get experience in neuroscience research this summer.
- I’m looking for a research position following my graduation in May.
- Ask a specific question:
- Do you plan on taking new graduate students in your research group next year? Based on my interests and experience, do you think I would be a good fit for your program?
- Are there any opportunities to get involved in research in your lab this summer?
- Do you have any open positions currently?
- Say a bit more about your relevant background with a sentence or two about your coursework or previous research experience, and include your résumé or CV.
- Close politely and sign with your full name: Thank you very much for your time. I hope to hear from you soon.
CLS advisers are always happy to review an outreach email before you send it.
Here are some samples.
SUBJECT: Advice on Youth Librarian Experiences
Dear Chloe Bergman:
Your alumni profile on Grinnell Connect lists you as a graduate of the M.L.S. program at UI Bloomington. I’m a fourth-year student at Grinnell College majoring in Classics, and I am very interested in pursuing library science as a career, particularly youth library services. UI Bloomington is one of the programs on my list. When I looked at your current library’s website, I enjoyed reading about some of the recent children’s events you have coordinated.
Would you have 30 minutes available for a quick call or coffee? I would like to get your advice on different aspects of youth library services and what kinds of skills might be needed to succeed in that area. I can schedule a call any time next week at your convenience or visit you in Bloomington the first or second week of January.
Please feel free to let me know what works with your schedule.
Quang Vo ‘23
SUBJECT: Your Advice and Expertise in Investment Banking
SUBJECT: Neuropeptide Receptors in Schizophrenia Research Opportunities
Dear Dr. Banks:
Reading your recent paper on the role of neuropeptide receptors in schizophrenia was a highlight of my neuroscience seminar course this fall. As a third-year student at Grinnell College majoring in biological chemistry with a concentration in neuroscience, I am very interested in your research.
To strengthen my graduate school applications, I hope to gain experience in neuroscience research this summer. Are there opportunities to get involved in research in your lab this summer?
I would be pleased to talk with you further about my interests and qualifications. I’ve taken the liberty of attaching my résumé, which includes the mentored advanced project I completed last summer, an experience I believe prepared me for working in your lab.
Thank you for your consideration.
Very truly yours,
Treena Perks ‘24