skh: i then started contacting profs from the other places by email and a typical response i would get would go along the lines of "... very impressive background ... let us get back ...". thing is, they never do even if i follow up. the line just goes dead after 2-3 emails. i have not gotten past the initial emailing phase with anybody.Welcome to the world of sales and marketing. What you are experiencing is pretty typical for salesman, and it's why salesmen exist. Getting to a NO, is as difficult and as important as getting to a YES. There are lots of things that you can try. First you must be proactive, and keep following the lead until you get to a YES or NO. This means a polite phone conversation, or even going to the university and meeting the professor face to face. It's important in these sorts of conversations to set deadlines (Sounds great!!!! When should I expect to hear from you?) If someone says they are going to e-mail back in two or three weeks, they don't respond, and they aren't returning your calls, that's a NO. Also, you have to approach things from "what can I do for them? How do we solve a problem?" Also getting a NO, isn't a bad thing, if you can get information or other sales leads. Always leave a good impression since people that can't to anything for you now, might be able to in the future.One thing that helps is if you understand the constraints and politics that the professor has to undergo. What exactly those the professor have to do in order to get you signed up? Finally, sales is something that you can't just do by e-mail, it works better if you meeting the professor at a conference. The other thing that you need to find are people that are doing part-time Ph.D's, contacts with peers are as important or more important than contacts with professors. One trick with academics is that they love talking about their research, so the more you know about the professor's research, the more you can come up with an e-mail that they will respond to, and the more useful they will be, even if they can't give you an immediate position.