University of Toronto professors not only supervise your research, they also help with administrative tasks like applying for research grants, publishing the research and applying to conferences.
Here are some tips to help you approach your professor about research positions:
Many students think that they have to wait until their third or fourth year to explore research positions. Not true; you can get involved in research in any year of study. If you are interested in a particular course or topic, talk to your professor. They may have an opportunity that would be right for you, right now.
Get to know your Professor
Before you approach your Prof about your research project, take some time to look at their research interests and publications. When you contact them about your research idea, make sure you tell them why you are interested in working with them and refer to their body of research.
It is also important that your Prof gets to know you before you apply for a research position. Take advantage of their office hours to discuss your research interests. The better they get to know you and your strengths, the easier it will be for them to connect you with research opportunities.
If your Prof is conducting research, they most likely have Masters or PhD students working with them. Try to connect with these students, especially if they are your TAs. They have insider knowledge of the research and they may be able to put in a good word for you.
Tell your Prof about yourself
When speaking with your Prof about research opportunities, tell them about yourself, your interests, and be clear about your relevant goals and intentions. This should allow you to be more relaxed and provide you with the opportunity to hold a richer discussion or ask them if they have any research opportunities that might be right for you.
Share your research ideas with your Professor
Professors have a wealth of information about a range of topics. Don’t feel pressured to read all the literature and present a formal hypothesis to your professor. Even if you have a vague idea for a research project, you can go to your professor and discuss it with them and start shaping your ideas into a viable research project.
Be open to input
Profs want to help you get the most out of your education. When you talk to your Prof, be open to advice and guidance. They may help you focus your research interests into a research topic, or they may give you tips about finding literature sources. They may even give you some input on other opportunities you can explore. As long as you are open to input and discussing your ideas, you will be on the right track.
Follow up with a thank you
After you meet with your Prof, send them a note to follow up and to thank them for their time. Even if they are not able to supervise your research project, they might keep you in mind for other opportunities.