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What exactly do first and second year students generally have on their resume/CV when applying for such programs? As they generally tend to have minimal work or lab experiences, but they just put their ECs? Moreover, how much of the likelihood of finding a position is based off your GPA. 

Would I have to maintain my GPA and ECs the way that they are to would I have to add something else into the mix?

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The CV I sent included a lot of extracurriculars that I was involved in, leadership positions I held, and awards I had won. Honestly, research experience is the best predictor of getting [more] research experience (apart from personal connections), but other than that, it's a combination of luck and timing. In my experience, GPA was very rarely a factor that PIs used in determining who to hire as a research student in the summer - the PI who I've worked with the longest and have the best relationship with never even asked me for my transcript. I've spent the past few years screening applicants for another PI, and as long as the GPA was decent, I was told to judge applicants based on their resume and essays (this particular PI asked for writing samples). Essentially, a high GPA in itself is not sufficient to secure a research position because there are generally multiple candidates who have similar GPAs. I also noticed that the applicant with a 3.96 often had less impressive resumes compared to the applicant with a 3.89 (hypothetical numbers to illustrate my example), which is probably why the 3.89 student was more often hired.

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As mentioned, GPA isn't a big factor beyond a certain point.. and everyone's CV isn't going be full of EC's. My best advice is to make personalize the email to the PI by reading their research and very briefly (and to the point) mention why you want to work with him/her and show interest in their field.

Your best chances will always be with a prof that taught you and you did decent in his/her class. There you can build a relationship by going to class, asking questions (intelligent ones) before/during/after class or at office hours. 

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