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A Risk?


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So, I've applied to a bunch of places, but I've finally decided what school and what lab I would really like to work at (Boston University, Biomedical Engineering). So, I've recently found out that my old boss's boss (at a national lab) was the doctoral adviser for the POI of that lab. And he even offered to call her up and recommend me.

I feel like this is a pretty unique opportunity, yet for some reason, my stomach kind of lurches when I think about asking him to follow up on that. Maybe this whole waiting thing has made me crazy, but I can't help but feel that she might think I'm trying to force my way in or something. I already have it on my application that I worked for him and I've already contacted her a while ago saying I was very interested in her work (we did a little back and forth). Should I have him call too? Should I wait a bit longer?

My apologies if I sound ridiculous. This is just all getting to my head. Any advice is appreciated, thanks!

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If he offered to call, I would agree to it. It's a risk, yes, but the benefits far outweigh the potential negatives. They aren't (likely) going to reject you because they don't like that he called on your behalf, but his call could make the difference if they're choosing between you and someone else. I would have had him write one of my letters too.

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I agree. Definitely have him call. A conversation about you with someone the POI respects could help them get more of a feel for you and be more confident that you would be a good choice over another student they didn't get to have a conversation about. Grad students are risks for the professors: they drop out, are lazy, aren't as capable as the professor would have liked, etc. If this professor has a trusted source saying that you aren't as much of a risk as other students it could be a huge benefit.

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It is a risk, but there was a recent discussion (this was for hiring TT faculty) on the CHE forums where a search committee was explaining their criteria- and they said they didn't offer the job to one candidate because the head of his graduate department was the doctoral advisor to one of the SC members... And he didn't mention the connection, or have his department chair reach out personally.

The reasoning being that either he didn't do his research about the members of the SC/faculty at the department to which he was applying, or that the dept head wouldn't have made the call due to a less than stellar relationship between the two.

The other side of the risk is that some faculty members view it as improper for personal contacts to be made during job searches/applications.

If it were me, I'd get him to call- I think the risk is well worth it, and if he's an older researcher, he probably knows how to make it carefully and tactfully- and wouldn't have offered if he didn't think it would help.

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