Follow-up from the California #NSBE41 GEM GRADLab: Applying to Graduate School, Letters, & the “” reminder about emails

GEM cropIt was a pleasure to talk with students at the National GEM Consortium’s GRAD Lab as part of the Graduate School Conference for the 41st Annual Convention for the National Society of Black Engineers. My talk on “Applying to Graduate School” is one of the four modules for the GEM GRAD Lab’s program that is provided for students at various schools and conferences across the country. Each student who attends a GRAD Lab receive a packet of information, that include resource booklets. It’s wonderful to have such a vibrant Q&A session, and have off-line conversations with students at the end of the talk. In addition to referring students to the GEM resources that they receive during the sessions, as questions arise, I regularly refer students to the background information that I use in my talks. There wasn’t enough time to answer all of the questions this year, so below you will find the information that my teams and I have developed, in one post. For all who had questions, thank you for the discussion. For those who stayed to ask questions, even as we were leaving, thank you for your commitment! Best wishes to all.

Resources from my posts and papers about applying to graduate school:

1. Tips for Applying to Graduate School (Special thanks to @HeyDrWilson for picking up this post for a feature in the Education section of the Sunday, March 29, 2015 “Professional Development and Careers Digest.”)

2. You’ve Just Asked for a Letter of Recommendation … Now I Need Some Things from You: (This post provides the list of everything that I require when someone asks for a letter. My students know that they need to make an appointment with me, and provide these items via hard copy, and in electronic form.)

3. Preparing a competitive application. I wrote this paper with two of my former graduate assistants after giving talks at the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers conference in 2011. This paper (which includes a reference to GEM), has now been shared in English and Spanish across the U.S. and in Latin America.

Tull, R. G., Nino, M.  and Ramoutar, N. (2012).  Preparing for Engineering and Other STEM Graduate/Post-Graduate Masters and Doctoral Programs.  Proceedings of the Tenth LACCEI Latin American and Caribbean Conference (LACCEI 2012), Megaprojects: Building Infrastructure by fostering engineering collaboration, efficient and effective integration and innovative planning, July 23-27, 2012, Panama City, Panama.  [Spanish Version of Section 4 here: Preparación para Programas de Maestría y Doctorado]

4. About email correspondences, be professional. Do not write casual email messages, especially to people with whom you are developing a professional relationship:

a. Word to the wise from my colleagues from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), who will throw your application away if you have an inappropriate email address like

b. On casual emails:

5. Optimize Your Summer Research Experience (from my article in the SHPE Magazine, based on my talks at MIT for new summer researchers):

Tull, R. G. (2013, Spring). Optimize Your Summer Research ExperienceSHPE – Magazine of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Vol. 15., No. 2. p. 20.

6. For those who asked about survival while in graduate school, here’s one on “The Imposter Syndrome” (from my article for SHPE, Fall 2009):

Tull, R. G. (2009, Fall). The ‘Imposter Syndrome’ and How to Avoid it. SHPE Magazine – The Official Magazine of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Vol. 11, No. 3.


Good luck with your applications. Please remember to apply for the GEM Fellowship:

Photo of Dr. Renetta Tull addressing students, reprinted from the NSBE Magazine, Convention 2015, p. 45.

Photo of Dr. Renetta Tull addressing students, at the GEM GRAD Lab 2014, Nashville, TN. Reprinted from the NSBE Magazine, Convention 2015, p. 45.


Renetta Tull, presenting at the GEM GRAD Lab during the Annual NSBE Convention, Anaheim, CA, March 2015