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kpwi

Do LORs HAVE to come from profs?

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I'm a very shy, quiet person and unfortunately I don't have strong relationships with my professors. There are two I would feel comfortable asking for letters.. but I'm struggling to come up with a third. I'm an art history major and I have spent the summer interning for a curator at an art museum. Is it acceptable to submit a LOR from my internship supervisor instead of a professor? My career goals involve working in a museum so I feel like this would be more beneficial than a bland letter from a professor who barely knows me.

Thoughts? Has anyone else submitted letters from professors AND someone outside of your university?

Edited by KP-WI

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Yes, that would be fine! I submitted a letter from an internship supervisor with both of my grad school apps.

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Yes, that would be fine! I submitted a letter from an internship supervisor with both of my grad school apps.

Awesome! Thanks for your input.

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I think this depends a lot on the program you are applying to. If you are looking at an masters, then a LOR from your supervisor will be just fine. If you are looking at a PhD program, the letter from your supervisor probably won't carry any weight. I have been told by a number of admission committee members (PhD programs) that they really only care about LORs from your professors, since they are assessing academic ability. Of course, I would recommend contacting professors in your field and asking, as this may differ by field (I'm poli sci). Good luck!

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Yes, that would be fine! I submitted a letter from an internship supervisor with both of my grad school apps.

But the thing is, Jae B. is in a field that (I'm assuming) values work experience, whereas the humanities definitely does not. Since your internship was in a related field, they might not ignore the letter from your internship supervisor. But why take that chance? The whole point of why these letters are valued so highly is so that these professors can see how much they might want to work with you. Academics tend to relate better to academics. Also, academics know what qualities other academics will value in a student, which is very important.

It sounds like you're still in undergrad, which is great, because you can use this semester and this year to work on overcoming your shyness. Try to go to office hours a few times. Stay after class to discuss something or ask a question. Because the thing is, if you're too shy to form a good relationship with your professor, how are you going to fare when it comes time to orally defend your thesis in front of several professors (not that that doesn't make me nervous)? How are you going to be able to collaborate with others on research? How are you going to be a TA?

I'm not trying to be mean or depress you. I know my share of once shy people who became teachers/professors. I'm just saying that in order to do that, they had to change the way they interacted with people. You need to be able to have the ability to connect with your colleagues and your professors in order to be able to survive grad school, because the grad school application process isn't going to be the last time someone has to write a LoR for you. And if those people in the future don't really connect with you either, then your chances at fellowships and good jobs are a LOT lower.

Edited by American in Beijing

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But the thing is, Jae B. is in a field that (I'm assuming) values work experience, whereas the humanities definitely does not. Since your internship was in a related field, they might not ignore the letter from your internship supervisor. But why take that chance? The whole point of why these letters are valued so highly is so that these professors can see how much they might want to work with you. Academics tend to relate better to academics. Also, academics know what qualities other academics will value in a student, which is very important.

I agree with adaptations, actually. I'm almost positive it would be valuable for an art history master's (and definitely better than a cold third letter from a professor) but far less so for a PhD application, where teaching is all they care about.

Since the OP said working in a museum is part of their career goal, an internship letter would be part of indicating they're working towards their goal appropriately and are applying their academic knowledge to their professional work.

Maybe more informed answers would come from the art history forums, though?

Edited by Jae B.

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Art history + museum? Sounds like peanut butter and jelly to me. I don't see how a letter from your internship supervisor would be a detriment. As long as they can say "yes, KP-WI is fantastic and took her job seriously" how could that be bad? Museum workers and curators often run in academic circles, so I don't think you'll have anybody on a committee thinking curators are of "outsider status". They want to hear from people who know you and your work, and part of your work was in a museum.

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