Pleas forgive me if I am at the wrong place as I am asking on behalf of a friend from his account and I don't have much experience in higher education.
So here's the story. My friend went to university with me for engineering. He flunked classes and was like at the bottom of the class for first 2 years with mostly Bs. In his junior year, he got serious after talking to one of his professor and started working on the subjects he ignored before. He started getting grades in his 6th semester and was getting all As. In his final semester, he decided to go for research but knew that since his grade was 3.32, he won't get into a good university. So he planned it out and worked for 1 year and then went for MS at a public university in the US.
Now I know he worked really really hard as he audited a class on differential equations to build his fundamentals along with the regular classes. After first year, his grades stood at 3.9 with A in all classes except one. After his first year, he joined a lab as volunteer to get some research experience. The work was good and he was enjoying it. Now sometime in May end week, he was recommended for a paid position in the lab for the fall 2023 semester. During his interview he disclosed that he wants to go for PhD and although he was hired, the lab director told him that he will not get a single admission if he doesn't have any publication before applying.
He started working around the clock. The only relevant conference he can aim for has its deadline in September and he is saying he is sure that he won't be able to make the deadline as research is new for him and his the lab director is refining problem statement again and again.
I know him for 7 years now. He is one of the best guy I can ask as a friend and it breaks my heart seeing him so depressed. Last week around he went for a free counselling session. I am asking him to take a break but he says that it already is impossible to finish things on time.
I started reading online about PhD admissions and understood that one has to show his research potential. I would really really appreciate if someone could help me with this.