After you have found labs you’d be interested in joining you must make contact with and schedule meetings with potential faculty sponsors.
This initial contact can be made by sending a brief introductory note via email about yourself and your research interests. It’s a good idea to request a meeting to discuss research opportunities in person. Be prepared to follow up on your e-mail, since most professors are barraged with hundreds of daily messages.
Prepare for these meetings as follows:
- Educate yourself about the faculty member's research, so that you are prepared to explain why you gravitated to this. Be prepared to ask informed questions.
- Explain how your interest in this particular research area emanates from the courses you have taken, and from major themes established in your concentration program. This is especially true if your planned project will serve as your Capstone or thesis project.
- Do emphasize technical, language, data analysis or other skills you possess that the faculty member might need or want. (Do not worry if you don’t have any prior research experience, emphasize your willingness to work hard, observe and learn).
- Discuss the time frame for your involvement, including expectations as to effort/time; summer (funding possibilities?) and continuation of project during the academic year.
- Do not address your potential sponsor casually or on a first name basis, unless you have an already-established relationship with this person and they have invited this familiarity.
Still unsure of what to do? Ask a fellow student you know who’s done research.
This website also has plenty of tips and advice.