I'm a third-year CS major undergrad at a not so research-oriented campus. I was looking through a list of research professors (given some professors only do lectures), I found a professor leading computer vision researching, and this is something I seriously wanted to dive deep into. I do not have a research background except for reading interesting papers myself fetched from two-minute paper videos on youtube.

Reading through several Q&As from Quora and SO, some say go for it while some say I should approach people who work with them first. I've decided to approach the professor directly. While most say I should approach with humbleness, and after drafting an email and sending it to my friend in a research-oriented University, my friend says I should remove the humbleness (he would say: remove "If my lack of experience refrained me from being considered as a candidate, are there any specific papers, concepts, or directions that I can look into?") and go straight to the point stating what I can do for the professor instead. He said most professors are too busy and would not even read or reply to my email if I talk about lacking experience or writing a multi paragraph email. Which approach should I take?

  • 6
    why not stop thinking about how to act and just be yourself in the most honest form?
    – Our
    Sep 8, 2021 at 19:31
  • 3
    This may be country specific -- if I received such an email with extreme niceties I would probably delete. Just say you are a student with an interest in computer vision, and ask whether you can be part of any project. That is sufficient.
    – VitaminE
    Sep 8, 2021 at 19:38
  • 4
    The answer is highly dependent on culture, so can you tell us where your university is located? Sep 8, 2021 at 19:42
  • 3
    My 2c, approach with humbleness but enthusiasm. Having specific questions about a recent paper of theirs might be a good start. I agree with your friend that you should take out your line about lacking experience and asking for papers though.
    – sgillen
    Sep 8, 2021 at 19:48
  • 9
    I won't answer because I CV'd as a duplicate, but yes, you are unlikely to get specific feedback from a cold email. I would drop that. I also hate reading annoying sycophancy. If you need to tell me how underqualified you are, why are you even reaching out?? You can be humble in the sense don't open with "I'm the next Elon Musk, I'm going to write four papers this year," but you don't need to grovel like you're about to become a human sacrifice. Sep 8, 2021 at 20:00

1 Answer 1


(I am a postdoc in research university in the US, regularly supervise undergrads and phd-level students)

The most important part is to be brief. Nobody has time or energy to read more than few sentences. If they have time for any student they will likely talk to you in person to figure out details. If they don't have time for students right now, they will likely ignore you. It doesn't really matter what you write, as long as you match your skills with the projects.

Hi Prof___, I am an CS major at [University] and would love to work with you. My main skills are [Python] and [Computer vision] and I want to learn more about your projects like ____. Do you have time to chat about possibility of joining your group as researcher for [time period you'll be available]?

Expectations from undergrad are pretty low, everyone knows that you are there to learn. Also expect to be ignored, but follow up in a week or two.

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