Friday, April 24, 2009

Mentors & Rec Letters

Those of you who have been following this blog for awhile are familiar with the story of Professor X - the recommendation letter writer who dropped the ball in terms of getting the letters in on time to grad schools. Professor X has largely fallen off the face of the earth as far as I can tell, so it is painfully obvious to me that I cannot count on this person to EVER do anything for me again, ever. 

Right now I have RA job applications in to my MRU and 3 into SFRSHS school. I have no idea whether I'll get any of these positions - which pisses me off because I have demonstrated qualifications for every single thing they're looking for in the damn job postings. But I digress. 

If I don't get an RA job, re-applying this fall will put me in a tricky situation. I have one amazing mentor from Community College who would jump through rings of fire for me if I needed it. That's rec letter #1. I have Rockstar Professor/Research PI who, ironically, has gotten to know me much better AFTER writing the initial letters for me. That's rec letter #2. 

(Btw, as an aside - I have copies of all the rec letters written on my behalf from this past fall. I have not read them, because they came into my possession sort of by accident. So if I needed to check if anyone sabotaged me, I could.)

So without the RA job, I basically have 3 options for obtaining rec letter #3:

1. Graduate Student mentor at MRU. She has worked with me for a year now, but I'm pretty convinced that a rec letter from a grad student is pretty much worthless. Correct me if I'm wrong. 

2. Former Professor at Community College (not Awesome Mentor) who absolutely supports me in anything that I do and knows me on a fairly personal level too. But, this person is not a PhD and is not in the social sciences. The risk is that it would be a glowing letter from someone who, quite possibly, doesn't matter at all to admissions committees. 

3. Boss's Boss at Corporation I Work For. Has known me for over 3 years, has given me countless awards for my work, has firsthand knowledge of how much my customer's love me and how hard I work. 2 possible risks - glowing letter from someone who doesn't matter, OR not-so-glowing letter because he has made it clear to me multiple times that he doesn't want me to leave the company. I think the former is most likely though. 

I need to have some kind of a back-up plan in place, because the MRU job is very, very competitive and SFRSHS school, well, hates me (or so it seems). I keep hoping that if I bombard them with enough applications they'll figure out how badly I want the job. We'll see if that pans out. 


Comrade Physioprof said...

Assuming equally glowing recommendations, #3 would likely carry the most weight.

caostaff said...

Boss's boss, for sure. It's always good to know that a potential hire can put their nose to the grindstone in a work environment, and get along with others.

Hermitage said...

I got a recommendation from a PI in a completely unrelated field who talked to me maybe twice the entire time I worked for him. However, he still knew via my mentor I fucking kicked ass. I got into every university he wrote me a recommendation for. So I think that a boss of a boss can work well for you if they have good things to say.

Anonymous said...

RA job is nice but it won't be the one thing that will get you into grad school. Pursue it, but don't put so much weight on it.

Isabel said...

"he has made it clear to me multiple times that he doesn't want me to leave the company"

can he be counted on to write a glowing letter?

Can #2 write about different projects and/or aspects of your personality/talents/abilities than the other CC professor? and why not both-that's what I did, though not sure if it helped or not.

One of my letters was from my organic chemistry instructor who didn't have a PhD. He was also the supervisor/mentor of a very cool independent project I did that was very related to my future work, so why not? It was a community college, so many instructors don't have PhD's...I'm surprised to hear it's an issue.

I can't believe you haven't read the letters!(and reread them)

Psych Post Doc said...

Sorta off topic for this post but it just occurred to me... does letter writer #2 " Rockstar Professor/Research PI" work at MRU? If so, can you ask them to put in a good word for you in the social area for RA positions?

I would say a PhD versus no PhD is probably better for reapplying next year, but if the three options above are the only options I would agree with previous commenters that #3 is your best shot.

Candid Engineer said...

You can just be direct with number 3, saying that you know he feels conflicted on the issue of you leaving, but would he be willing to put in a good word for you?

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