View Full Version : Advice on references
06-01-2011, 12:33 PM
I am already thinking about the upcoming application cycle, and was thinking about the types of references I should have.
In this past cycle, I had two academic and one work/personal (all are long-term). However, I have only scored 6.75/10. I think that there might have been quite a bit of overlap between the academic references. I am sure that all three references were great (as my referees told me).
Any suggestions? What are your thoughts on a letter from a clinician that I only shadowed? Or a volunteer organization?....
06-01-2011, 01:03 PM
I don't think the "who" behind the references matters so much as the "what" they are writing. I would prefer to pick three individuals that know me relatively well to write an in-depth letter rather than someone that does not know me as well.
For myself, I ended up picking three professors (one is my graduate supervisor) and although I don't know my score yet, I imagine they were ok, especially because i've known each of them for several years and on a close level.
The key thing is you don't want some generic letter, rather something that speaks highly of you in a detailed manner.
Hope this helps!
06-01-2011, 01:17 PM
Not sure my scores yet either, but I went for variety...
Long term soccer coach
I guess my hope was that I could show that I had made good impressions on people in the workplace, in extracurriculars, and in academics.
Good luck with your app!
06-01-2011, 11:43 PM
I agree - it's about content. All 3 were work related, all colleagues, not supervisors. I asked people that I knew would be able to use examples of cases and projects that we've worked that would demonstrate ethical integrity, leadership skills, etc. I don't know if it mattered, but they were from different disciplines at our hospital (one dietitian, one social worker, on RN care manager) that I though might demonstrate an appreciation and commitment to the int-d team.
06-01-2011, 11:57 PM
All 3 of mine were academic. I picked 3 profs that I had worked with extensively throughout undergrad and my master's. My reasoning was that they knew me better than anyone else I could have picked (including my PhD supervisor) and they would be able to write more personal letters. My PhD supervisor wouldn't have written me a bad letter, but parts of it would have been pretty generic since all I had ever done was research with him. The other three I had done research with, taken classes from, worked as a TA for, and done science outreach stuff with, so even though there might have been some overlap in the types of experiences they had had with me, I felt like they knew me well enough to write really personal and specific letters.
06-02-2011, 12:38 PM
I really think its about how much your referees like you. I had:
Volunteer coordinator who liked me because I did a lot of work for the organization and started a university chapter for them because I saw the need to expand. She likely provided good reference for my ECs.
My supervisor who was there to witness all my academic performances and awards ceremonies and whom i worked closely with. He likely provided good reference for my academic performance and work ethics.
My co-worker who was there to see me working late into the night, who would go play sports with me and know my personal side.
I chose these because it contained a balance of academic, EC, and personal. My supervisor is quite well known but the other 2 aren't exactly of high authority or anything so I really do think its the content of the letter.
06-02-2011, 04:59 PM
thanks guys for all your input.
Its good to see that many of you went with people you trust over people with big names when asking for a reference. That gives me more confidence regarding selecting my references for this year coming up.
I don't know my score yet, but I got direct acceptance. My 3 references were: -My prof from grad work, a co-worker from my "real job" and then my boss from my part-time job. The co-worker and boss only knew me for 1.5 years at the time of the reference. So I agree, it is content, not who they are, what they do, or how long they have known you for.
I also think it's valuable to select references who can emphasise different aspects of your personality, eg. professional commitment, academic ability, and personal integrity. There may be less value to two references who say the same things about you from the same perspective.
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