Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for RIET Lab Hiring

Q: Are you hiring?

A: Generally, yes. All open positions, with details on how to apply, are available here. Please follow those instructions carefully.

Q: I’m a student from [country] and it is difficult for me to afford the application fees.

A: I am sorry to hear about your financial plight. Unfortunately, I cannot help you directly with this challenge. However, UConn has several resources in order to reduce the financial burden of applying to graduate school at UConn. See: https://grad.uconn.edu/admissions/application-fee-waivers/

Q: Can I apply only via email directly, instead of going through the UConn graduate school?

Unfortunately not. First, there are various and sundry requirements at the university level that I have no resources to assess on my own; these must be met in order for an admission offer to be made. Secondly, a large part of your graduate application packet, and by far the most important component, is your letters of recommendation. I need to receive those in confidence directly from your references through the formal graduate school application.

Q: Can’t I just email you my recommendation letters?

A: Please don’t do that. If you have access to your recommendation letters, that means you have not waived your right to see them, and that means your letter writers can not give their most honest assessment of your qualities. Therefore, I will be less inclined to trust their letters.

Q: I’m a/n [undergraduate/masters/PhD student] interested in a [masters/PhD/post-doc] in your lab. [Optionally: I am facing financial difficulties.] Can you read my CV and tell me what my odds are?

A: Sorry, but the answer is no. As you might imagine, I get asked to review CVs quite frequently and receive many queries about our positions. I cannot review them individually unless they are submitted according to the application requirements. While I do understand your hopes of hearing something definitive, it is impossible for me to give you that information, in part because my answer depends on your recommendation letters submitted in confidence (see above). As for your [possible] financial plight, please see above for resources that might help.

Q: If I’m applying through the graduate school, why do I need to also send you my information again via email?

A: Many students apply to the CSE department every year and I cannot review them all. By emailing me with the information I have requested, you alert me to the fact that you are interested in working with my lab specifically and ensure I don’t accidentally overlook your application.

Furthermore, by attaching your application materials and the name of your references (but not your letters please!! See above) to your email, you also streamline the review process and help me review your case more quickly.

Q: Is there anything I can do to improve my chances of getting accepted for this role?

A: The best thing you can possibly do to improve your odds is to have a successful track record of research and letter writers who can attest to your ability (or potential) to engage in research. Prof. Mark Corner wrote some blunt, but very useful, tips on what graduate programs in CSE are interested in.

Q: Can we meet virtually to discuss my case/application?

A: Much as I would love to speak with you, unfortunately, my time is very limited and I cannot meet individually with every student interested in my lab. I often attend conferences in my field such as SIGIR, ICWSM, ECIR and CIKM, as well as GHC, and in those occasions I am more than happy to meet with prospective students. Furthermore, I am occasionally invited to panels on applying to graduate school or similar events. To hear about such events, you can follow me on Twitter: @ShirKi.

Q: I have another question that is not addressed in this FAQ, what should I do?

A: Please feel free to email me with your query at: shiridh AT uconn.edu. If I get the question frequently enough, I will add it to this FAQ.