A do and a don’t

17 Jun

Best to start on a positive note… I always make time to talk to students if I can. They might be individuals I’m assigned to teach or supervise; they might be others from my university, or students from elsewhere. If I can, I’ll answer your questions. Normally that’s where it ends. But I was particularly pleased to receive one hand-written thankyou card through the post; given that most contact is by phone and by email / blog comments, this stands out. Well done Ciara – and thank you.

Now for the negative. I’m also happy to provide references for students and graduates – I’m keen to watch your success in the workplace. But it’s time-consuming for me to respond to requests from those I don’t know well, or barely remember having taught several years before. The answer? If you want me as a referee, try to maintain some form of relationship. This might involve an email updating me on your career and your aspirations (particularly at the point where you’ve applied for a job you really want); you could add me as a friend on a social networking site (I’m on LinkedIn, PROpenMic, Facebook); you might even consider sending an old-fashioned card (see above). Christmas is the conventional time for this.

2 Responses to “A do and a don’t”

  1. David 19/06/2008 at 8:18 am #

    References: Couldn’t agree more. I’m often inundated with requests for a personal reference. Some students think that even though they’ve never met me, they have a right to this. The Uni is obliged to offer a vague transcript-based one, but for a personal, well-informed reference (the one that might clinch the job), I tell students that we need to actually know each other and write it together.
    I really unhappy when someone I don’t know just plonks my name on a CV and a letter from an employer turns up a few weeks later. I’m afraid I just don’t respond.

  2. Ef Rodriguez 20/06/2008 at 10:29 pm #

    This is great advice and something that most new grads don’t consider.
    I’ve made it a point to stay in touch with professors who I really connected with in college. Not for references, but just because I like cultivating relationships and having them exist longer than a semester.
    Great post, Richard.

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