Writing a Contact Letter
Writing a Contact Letter
In order to get good results from your email contacts at university campuses, places of business or organizations, you will need a letter that is brief but informative.
- Address the message to a specific professor, not to whom it may concern. If possible, indicate why you selected this person.
- You will need to catch the reader’s attention with your header, clearly indicate that you are a fully funded research assistant
- Give your name and status, as well as the degree you are pursuing. Explain exactly what you are doing and why as a member of the Honors Scholar Program. See samples. This is a standard paragraph.
- Re-emphasize the fact that you are fully funded, and will be a “free” research assistant, intern, or assistant of any other kind
- Indicate your specific major and field(s) of interest, keeping it broad enough to allow for a match with your contact, yet specific so that you indicate the seriousness of your studies.
- Try to provide specific information that will catch the reader’s interest. For example, mention special projects or skills, special interests, any independent research you have carried out, as well as work as a research or lab assistant.
- Specify the time period you have in mind, and request a response from your contact.
- Conclude the letter as indicated in the samples.
- Attach a list of courses and grades in your subject (Use A, B, C since these are universal values), including courses you plan to complete before the off-campus study takes place.
- Attach a full resume either in the body of the letter, or as an attachment, and offer to sender further information, as well as letters of recommendation from a professor in your major and the director of the Honors Scholar Program.
- Indicate that the professor can contact the Honors Director for further information and include the Honors Director's email in the message.
- Conclude with a thanks, and with “Sincerely,” followed by your full name.
- Use a neat, formal letter format
- This is email, and tends to be informal. However, you should put your message in the form of a letter that is well-written with carefully thought-out sentences and paragraphs.
- Professors will not take you seriously if you misspell even a single word.
Address the letter to a specific person
- It takes only a few moments more to change the salutation, and to add a sentence referring specifically to the professor you are attempting to contact.
How To Make Your Search Effective
- Find the closest match to your interests
- Do not begin with a specific project in mind, but rather keep several possible areas of interest in mind. Find a professor working in a field as closely related to your interests as possible. Alternately, find an internship for foreign study program as closely related to your field as possible.
- Do not fix on a single country or a single project. Work in several possible areas rather than just one to increase your possibilities of finding a good contact.
- Don’t expect an immediate response. This takes time and patience. Most students who find excellent contacts find only disappointment with their first few attempts at contact. Most students send 60 to 80 messages before getting a good contact.