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Mentor Tools & Resources

Responding to UROP Inquiry Emails

Here’s some advice on how to handle inquiries from students about UROPing with you.

Things to know before you respond

  • Formal UROP deadlines for the term.
  • Availability of positions for UROP students in your laboratory
  • Your schedule, and whether you have sufficient time to mentor and manage a student

Only MIT and Wellesley College undergraduates are eligible for UROP. Students from other institutions are not eligible to conduct research via UROP, unless they are part of a formal exchange program with MIT.

Equitable practices to UROP responses…

  • Develop a strategy for responding to inquiries and be consistent. Will you respond to each one? Will you provide an interview to every student who emails?
  • Avoid gatekeeping practices. Metrics like GPA, resumes, prior experiences, etc., can be difficult ways to assess undergraduates, particularly first year students. GPAs do not necessarily correlate with potential and not all undergraduates have previous research experience (UROP is how they get experience!).
    • If you cannot respond to every email, consider asking students who reach out to provide a short overview of their skills, and what they hope to get out of the experience. Then, you can determine if these goals align with your own.
    • Even better – if you can, respond to every email. Provide an interview to every student. It takes time, but it is an equitable approach and you will be able to select the best candidate!

If you ARE interested in having a UROP for the term…

Make sure the student is a match in the context of their skills and availability/schedule,and your time and research needs

  • Set-up expectations for the UROP position before speaking with students
  • Interview the student and talk about these expectations

If you ARE NOT interested, a student is not a good fit, you don’t have lab space, etc, …

  • Do you have a colleague that you can introduce them to who might be open to UROPs?
  • Can the student do something else for credit for you, like a “mini UROP?”
  • Can you provide them with some relevant advice and information to help them find other laboratories to contact, courses to pursue to help them prepare, or resources you think they should look into?

Email management, especially in these times, is a skill and isn’t always easy. Be kind to yourself!