I field a fair number of grad student inquiry emails.
I say no to every inquiry email I receive.
For most of these prospective students, I wouldn’t be the right adviser anyway: they write me with interest in animal behavior, reproductive physiology, and wildlife biology to name a few. These emails are fairly straightforward to reply to. I don’t do that kind of science.
The trickier ones are the emails from people who clearly took time to read my bio/webpage on our department website. These folks tend to be interested in intersections of the same things I am.
Their inquiries are harder to decline, in part because I know there aren’t that many grad school opportunities at these intersections. And, in part because it would be so fun (and yes, hard work!) to jam out with a lab full of people working together on these topics.
It’s “application season” for fellowships, jobs, grants, and more. This time of year, I field a lot of queries about fine-tuning cover letters and application materials. I’ve shared various resources for them online (like a workshop series on applying for the NSF GRFP that’s applicable to most application types) and on social media.
Today, I want to share something more specific and detailed about what is arguably the most important part of your application: the cover letter.
To my mind, the cover letter is most important because it may be the only part of your application that a hiring manager, grants program officer, editor, or whomever reads.* Your cover letter is your shot at getting them to want to read your CV, references, etc. With the cover letter, your goal is to get on the short list for reading your full packet or even offering a phone/video-call interview.
I recently gave an invited career talk at the 2020 annual conference of the Ecological Society of America. In case others are interested, I thought I would share the video (with captions) here.
There have also been a number of responses to this talk which have led me to consider doing some recorded Zoom/video conversations, to capture discussion, advice, and more. Stay tuned for more on that front, and feel free to submit questions, advice, and resources via the comments section!
In March 2019, Richard Bright of Interalia Magazine interviewed me for the journal’s Drawing Thoughts series. Drawing Thoughts explores contemporary thinking on the practice of drawing, discussing its creative, expressive and educational value, and its fundamental importance to translating and analysing the world. The issue’s overarching aim is to affirm the value of drawing.
A lengthy excerpt of my interview is available on line here. The full-text is available to Interalia subscribers.