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25 November 2008

Help me! I'm applying to grad school as we speak and I'm conflicted about recommendation letters! (long rant under the cut)[More:]Here's the scoop - I have been out of college and working at the same job for a little over two years. I am applying to grad school. A former professor of mine has agreed to write recommendation letters for me - she's the only professor I've remained in contact with, and it's going to be difficult at this late date to get another academic to write one for me.

At my job, I've worked on various projects under various people who have offered, at the end of the project, to be a reference whenever I need one. With a little coaxing, I can probably convince them to fill out the recommendation forms. However, I'm getting all worked up over the office politics. Here are the problems as I see them.

1) Due to the org structure, my Project Managers and immediate Supervisors mostly have the same title as I do - Research Engineer. People with better titles - Section Manager, Director, etc. don't really do much more than sign my timesheet and vacation requests.

2) I don't want my Section Manager or Director to know that I'm applying to grad school until I get accepted. This is because they will either put enormous pressure on me to stay, or they will hire someone to replace me now and I won't get any work for the next 9 months.

3) On that note, one of my Project Managers is friendly with my bosses, and I'm afraid if I ask them to write recommendations, he will tell my bosses. Is it weird to ask him to keep this on the down low?

4) Furthermore, I'm good friends with one of my PMs and I'm afraid that it would be an undue imposition on a friendship to ask for a detailed recommendation.

5) I'm also anxious that I'm wasting my time overthinking this.

Help me break this cycle of anxiety! Do I pick the Research Engineer who's friends with me and won't blab to my boss, or the Senior Research Engineer who is friends with my boss and may or may not let something slip?
I would pick your friend but only if s/he knows s/he absolutely can say no if not comfortable.

The others are a conundrum. Kinda damned if you and damned if you don't. Is there no one(s) else? And, wouldn't an old favored professor be used to receiving this kind of request(what's more after only two years) from former students?
posted by MonkeyButter 25 November | 19:08
Pressure that they would give you for you to stay is just that, pressure. If they fire you I'm pretty sure that's grounds for "Unreasonable firing" or whatever the legal term is. You can also tell her not to blab, take him/her under your confidence. Tell them that you'd appreciate that they kept it between you and them.

Good luck, muddgirl.
posted by hellojed 26 November | 01:36
Thanks for the encouragement! I was overthinking it :( I went with Senior Research Engineer and he promised to keep it to himself.

Although it still took me two weeks to get my confidence up enough to ask. I == lame and possibly socially anxious.
posted by muddgirl 10 December | 18:21
ok i want this for christmas || This is My Milwaukee