I am currently looking at PhD programmes (mainly in the US) and have been advised to email potential PIs before I put in an application. I am afraid my profile isn't very competitive and my back up plan is to go get more research experience if I get rejected by all the programmes I apply to. In the case that occurs, would it be acceptable/is it normal to email the same PIs I wanted to work with to ask about research assistant positions? And if I re apply in the following year, is it acceptable to email the same PIs asking about their work since the PIs I have short listed and people I really really want to work with!
I hope I haven't rambled on too much!
EDIT: So is RA positions are given to grad students, how do I get more research experience to strengthen my application for grad school after I have graduated from my degree with a masters? (I'm international and so would need some financial support and visa sponsorship and can't "volunteer")