Several weeks ago, I got this email from a reader of my blog:
I’ve read your blog a lot.
I have one question though. How did you get into a PhD program without previous undergrad research experience?
I’m in Nigeria studying CS and my school has virtually zero undergrad research opportunities, at least not in my area of interest – Compilers and Programming Languages.
I need your advice desperately about what I should be doing now to would help my chances of landing an admission into grad school.
I don’t necessarily feel obligated to respond to every cold email I get, but this one grabbed me. I’ve been obsessing for weeks about how to answer this question effectively. This post is what I’ve come up with so far. I recognize that my advice on this topic may not be helpful to everyone, and I’m interested in hearing other researchers’ answers to the question.