Tuesday, September 05, 2006

How to get a piece of me.

Two e-mails recently in which I've been requested to give my time to someone.


I am Student V, a graduate student advised by Professor K. I am about to take the qualification exam. Your advisor is on my qualification exam. and I would like 15 minutes of your time to discuss your advisor's research.

Let's dissect this e-mail. First, he notes that he is advised by Professor K, who has helped me immensely in the past. I figure that this Professor advised Student V to contact me. I feel like I owe Professor K, so this increases the chances that I will make time for Student V. Next, Student V notes a very specific issue to discuss, mainly my advisor as an audience member in a qualification exam. Finally, the amount of time being requested is very reasonable. This Student V and I will be meeting this week.

Next e-mail:


My name is Worker A and I m working for Motorola as Software Engg. I was browsing through the GradShitTownVille University research page and found you.

I m interested in operating systems and computer organization areas. But still not sure which one I should pursue. I might want to go for a MS /PhD. I need some information regarding the same. Do you think you can spare some time ?

Let's dissect this e-mail. First, it's very apparent that the author was just "browsing" since he asks no question in particular about me or my research area. He is interested in two different areas, not particularly related to me, and wants general information about graduate school. He obviously failed to note the "Graduate Student Resources" link on my personal website, or he would have found the list of links answering this question. Finally, he is asking me to spare "some" time, but to discuss what? I am not a professional guidance counselor. I replied to him with a list of links, but I did not agree to meet with him.


DC said...

Whenever I've gotten emails like that, I've made a point of asking other people who seem like likely candidates to get the email as well. Always I've found that the same email was sent to other people and it pisses me off.

Female Science Professor said...

I often get emails asking for my time and research money, and typically don't respond to the generic ones, especially if they start with "Dear Sir". The CS department at my university admits a huge number of grad students without funding, and these students send out desperate form letter emails asking random professors in other departments for funding. I feel very sorry for these students, who must surely be in a stressful situation. However, even taking that into account and giving some slack to international students who are not aware that not every professor is a Sir, I write back to the "Dear Sir" emailers with the greeting "Dear Mrs. X". I never hear from them again.

Ms.PhD said...

I admire your ability to turn people away. I guess I don't get these requests often enough to mind, but I also tend to treat it as my personal responsibility to give career decision-makers the straight talk: yes, grad school sucks. But nobody will tell you that.