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Keeping in touch for LOR?


belocali
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Hi everyone,

I am planning on applying to MPA/MPP programs for Fall 2019 and am trying to sort out my LORs. I have one professor who let me know when I graduated in 2016 that she would write me a strong letter. I have somewhat kept in touch with her by email, and recently she reminded me to let her know when I would be applying for grad school so she could write me a LOR.

For my second letter I am planning on asking another professor who I chatted with often about my work-related goals. She was supportive of me but I never officially asked for a letter. I haven't done my part to keep in touch. What would be the best way to do so? I am considering emailing her to let her know what I am up to and to ask if I can visit her to chat. Is this generally done or would this be a waste of her time due to professors' workload? Also, she gave me some contacts at UCLA and CUNY to chat with about research and shamefully I never followed up. I feel like obviously I should do that before I get in touch with her. I am not certain either how to reach out to these contacts. Would I just say hello, let them know who I was referred by, and ask them about their research? I am really green on these types of interactions so I would appreciate any advice.

My last letter will be from my current employer. I am concerned because I likely cannot keep this job when I start grad school, so asking for this letter will be like telling them I am quitting. This letter should be from a supervisor, and thankfully (in a sense) my current supervisor is going to change so I could ask her once she is no longer my current boss. She already knows I am interested in grad school and UCLA, which she knows is about a 1.5 hour commute from my home. How do I approach asking this without possibly blowing my relationship with my employer? What happens if they write me a letter knowing this means I want to leave but I don't get in?

Thanks in advance for any advice. 

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1. Re keeping in touch: write the prof, tell her about your plans, ask her what she would prefer in terms of keeping in touch. Tell her you'd be happy to stop by and chat once in a while throughout the year, if she has the time, or you'd be happy to send her your application materials when the time comes. Let her decide. 

2. Re asking for a letter from your employer, this is a tough one. There isn't exactly one correct way to go about it. If you are worried about keeping your job or about getting a weak letter from them because they'd want you to fail, maybe those are good reasons not to ask for a letter from them. Or, if possible, you'd want to ask your letter writer to maintain confidentiality about your plans. Only you can decide if you trust her. 

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You really need to consider your work culture when asking an employer for the letter of recommendation. Some people are very lucky and they have a relationship where their supervisor supports them moving ahead. Others have supervisors who want to keep them stagnant.  If you have a candid relationship with your supervisor, and they know your academic plans and goals, that's fantastic. I would suggest using that relationship to your benefit. If you do not, you still may be able to approach the LOR if done carefully.  

If you're worried at all about your job or the company's impression of you, you need to tread lightly. Remember they will need to be a job reference in the future too. So try not to burn any bridges. I've told a former supervisor that I was considering my options, but in order to move ahead in the company, I really need to continue in my education. She agreed and considered me applying as an investment (and frankly she wanted to see me succeed in a job that wasn't dead end). But again, I didn't frame it as "if I get in, I'm out of here."

I've been earnest with other supervisors about my career choices. I'll tell them what I want out of the position, that it's a stepping stone and where I want to go next. We create a professional development plan that usually includes both education and extra projects. The Supervisor gets a "super worker" for a brief period of time, and I get a recommendation.

So again, gauge your approach based on the work culture and professional relationship.

 

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On 10/22/2017 at 10:17 PM, fuzzylogician said:

1. Re keeping in touch: write the prof, tell her about your plans, ask her what she would prefer in terms of keeping in touch. Tell her you'd be happy to stop by and chat once in a while throughout the year, if she has the time, or you'd be happy to send her your application materials when the time comes. Let her decide. 

2. Re asking for a letter from your employer, this is a tough one. There isn't exactly one correct way to go about it. If you are worried about keeping your job or about getting a weak letter from them because they'd want you to fail, maybe those are good reasons not to ask for a letter from them. Or, if possible, you'd want to ask your letter writer to maintain confidentiality about your plans. Only you can decide if you trust her. 

Thanks so much for your response.

Re: #1: Should I ask her via email if she would be willing to write me a reference and go from there?

Re: #2: Yes, it does seem a bit touchy. I think I will give it some thought to figure out what the response may likely be. 

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On 10/23/2017 at 5:27 AM, _kita said:

You really need to consider your work culture when asking an employer for the letter of recommendation. Some people are very lucky and they have a relationship where their supervisor supports them moving ahead. Others have supervisors who want to keep them stagnant.  If you have a candid relationship with your supervisor, and they know your academic plans and goals, that's fantastic. I would suggest using that relationship to your benefit. If you do not, you still may be able to approach the LOR if done carefully.  

If you're worried at all about your job or the company's impression of you, you need to tread lightly. Remember they will need to be a job reference in the future too. So try not to burn any bridges. I've told a former supervisor that I was considering my options, but in order to move ahead in the company, I really need to continue in my education. She agreed and considered me applying as an investment (and frankly she wanted to see me succeed in a job that wasn't dead end). But again, I didn't frame it as "if I get in, I'm out of here."

I've been earnest with other supervisors about my career choices. I'll tell them what I want out of the position, that it's a stepping stone and where I want to go next. We create a professional development plan that usually includes both education and extra projects. The Supervisor gets a "super worker" for a brief period of time, and I get a recommendation.

So again, gauge your approach based on the work culture and professional relationship.

 

My supervisor has been very supportive in giving me assignments based on my work and academic interests and career goals. I suppose I should be more confident that it probably will be fine so long as I have a good approach! 

Thank you for your response, and thank you for sharing your experiences.

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On 10/23/2017 at 5:27 AM, _kita said:

You really need to consider your work culture when asking an employer for the letter of recommendation.

In addition to the culture of your workplace, you also need to be mindful of its risk management policies IRT references.

IME, some firms will do nothing more than confirm that Person A worked for the company between X and Y dates. So even if your supervisor is on the level and would write you a LOR that reflects accurately your strengths, the letter may get nixed following a water cooler conversation. 

@belocali! Do what you can now to get past the dynamic of beating yourself up for what you could have or should have done. It's easier to say than to do and the sooner you do it, the sooner you'll be able to find positive reasons to motivate yourself and the ability to forgive yourself for not being everything that you believe you should be all time time.

Give thought on ways to put yourself in the position to do the best that you can under the circumstances most of the time.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 10/24/2017 at 11:36 PM, Sigaba said:

In addition to the culture of your workplace, you also need to be mindful of its risk management policies IRT references.

IME, some firms will do nothing more than confirm that Person A worked for the company between X and Y dates. So even if your supervisor is on the level and would write you a LOR that reflects accurately your strengths, the letter may get nixed following a water cooler conversation. 

@belocali! Do what you can now to get past the dynamic of beating yourself up for what you could have or should have done. It's easier to say than to do and the sooner you do it, the sooner you'll be able to find positive reasons to motivate yourself and the ability to forgive yourself for not being everything that you believe you should be all time time.

Give thought on ways to put yourself in the position to do the best that you can under the circumstances most of the time.

Sigaba,

I apologize for the late response. Thank you so much for your advice, I really appreciate it! I think I will definitely need to reflect on it while I'm going through the application process. 

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