How to Prepare for your First Meeting
Be well prepared for your first meeting with a professor you hope will become your supervisor. Before meeting with the person, think about the following things:
The subject of your project or your research
- Define your area of interest. Do you already have a specific topic or do you want the supervisor to propose one?
The principal phases of the program of studies
- Do you need more information about the studies, the doctoral exam, the writing, the submission (and evaluation), the defence?
The supervisor’s methods of mentoring
- Mentoring methods vary among individuals. Discuss the subject at the first meeting to ensure that the proposed methods suit you.
About professor-student relations
- What degree of autonomy does the professor expect from his (her) students?
- Does he/she favour a task-based relationship or one which also takes account of more personal aspects?
- Does he/she meet regularly with students? How often?
- Does he/she have specific production requirements (e.g.: a periodic report, summary sheets) to monitor and evaluate the progress of the work?
- Does he/she expect students to be present daily at the university?
- What is his/her level of involvement in the planning of the main phases of the project and the creation of a timetable?
About funding your planned studies
Adequate funding for the entire duration of your studies is an important success factor, especially if you plan to study full time. Ask about ways in which your supervisor could support you financially. For example:
- Is he/she in a position to give you a grant from research funds?
- Is he/she able to hire you as a research assistant?
- Are there opportunities for collaborating with partners (laboratories, universities, industry)?
- Is he/she in a position to offer you income from laboratory work, marking or teaching courses?
- Can he/she advise you about scholarships and grants that may exist?
About workspaces, equipment and materials
- Will you have a work space (office) at your disposal?
- Will you have access to the equipment and facilities required for your project?
- Will you have access to the required supplies, materials and human resources (technicians)?
- Does the professor have a budget to assume certain research costs (supplies, travel, etc.)?
About the laboratory facilities / the team and the industry connections
- Is the professor a member of a research team or laboratory?
- To what extent can you use the laboratory facilities?
- What will your role and status be within the team or the laboratory?
- Does the professor have ongoing projects with industrial partners?
- To what extent might you be involved in these projects?