I learned this from my parents (who were both faculty at Caltech). It has continued to be good advice through the years. Step one is to decide who to connect with. Make sure your horizons are broad enough. Look beyond your major at your university. Look beyond your school. Connections, particularly as mentors, can be global. Realize that a more junior faculty person may have more time for you, but eventually has to actively put their own interests first–they are trying to get tenure. A more senior faculty member, might have less time, but have a more altruistic agenda. Above all, look for faculty members who are doing research/scholarship in areas that you could visualize yourself being passionate about.
Prune your list. It should be no larger than 10 individuals. You can prune your list based on various constraints: information that you’ve gleaned from other students/peers, googling and similar due diligence, interest in their research. Make certain that they are still actively publishing in the field you think you are interested in (people change directions). Then, make an appointment with google scholar or pub med and download the most recent two papers for each person on your list. Read those papers very carefully and make notes.
Stay tuned for the next blogpost.