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topflightpro 05-17-17 02:04 PM

I'm at a conference that is largely about heath promotion efforts. You'd think that such an event would serve healthy snacks.

But you'd be wrong.

We've had cinnamon buns, cupcakes, danishes, cannolis, and lemon tarts.

Ygduf 05-17-17 05:05 PM


Originally Posted by topflightpro (Post 19590572)
I'm at a conference that is largely about heath promotion efforts. You'd think that such an event would serve healthy snacks.

But you'd be wrong.

We've had cinnamon buns, cupcakes, danishes, cannolis, and lemon tarts.

Stanford BeWell ****: come to our events, we have cookies!

Racer Ex 05-17-17 08:18 PM

Aw crap. Bad few weeks on Italian roads.

https://sports.yahoo.com/news/motogp...161919443.html

Kinda carpy commentary that you can spend years throwing around motorcycles at 180 and road riding is where you really get hurt.

himespau 05-18-17 06:38 AM

How long does an agreement to provide a letter of reference last? Is it a lifelong commitment?

I wrote a letter for a former student supporting his application to graduate school 4-5 years ago. I think I heard from him later that year that he'd gotten in, but nothing since. Then yesterday, I got an e-mail from a small college somewhere saying he'd used me as a reference on an application for an adjunct instructor position, and what did I think about him and his ability to interact with adult learners.

I'm not really sure how to respond. This is someone I taught in an undergraduate lecture class with ~100 other students and who then worked for me in my lab for 3 weeks. If memory serves, that was my entire contact with him. Looking at my old letter, I see he must have done all right in my class, but my recollection of him is pretty hazy.

Do I just say, "I haven't heard from him in the last 4 years and don't really remember him, but this is the letter I wrote in support of his grad school application" and send them his old letter? Say, I'm sorry I don't really remember him? I don't want to lie, but I also don't want to screw over his application. Just a little odd that I haven't heard from him since then and he's apparently gotten at least his master's degree. Seems like someone from that degree would be a more relevant referee.

merlinextraligh 05-18-17 07:25 AM


Originally Posted by himespau (Post 19592012)
How long does an agreement to provide a letter of reference last? Is it a lifelong commitment?

I wrote a letter for a former student supporting his application to graduate school 4-5 years ago. I think I heard from him later that year that he'd gotten in, but nothing since. Then yesterday, I got an e-mail from a small college somewhere saying he'd used me as a reference on an application for an adjunct instructor position, and what did I think about him and his ability to interact with adult learners.

I'm not really sure how to respond. This is someone I taught in an undergraduate lecture class with ~100 other students and who then worked for me in my lab for 3 weeks. If memory serves, that was my entire contact with him. Looking at my old letter, I see he must have done all right in my class, but my recollection of him is pretty hazy.

Do I just say, "I haven't heard from him in the last 4 years and don't really remember him, but this is the letter I wrote in support of his grad school application" and send them his old letter? Say, I'm sorry I don't really remember him? I don't want to lie, but I also don't want to screw over his application. Just a little odd that I haven't heard from him since then and he's apparently gotten at least his master's degree. Seems like someone from that degree would be a more relevant referee.

I'd respond factually in a new letter. Say that he was your student and lab assistant and list the positive things from your previous letter and leave it at that.

himespau 05-18-17 07:52 AM

Yeah, that's what I decided to go with. "My experience with him relevant to your position is limited, but this is how I knew him...In our interactions during his time at_______he seemed professional, polite, and intellectually curious. If you want to discuss further or have additional comments, please feel free to contact me."

I'd hope that, in the degree(s) he has apparently gotten since then (needed to be eligible for this position), he has found someone who can provide him a much stronger reference. If not, I'm sure the director of personnel can figure out what that means. I've had several people apply to work for me recently and all their references are as old as I am to this person with nothing in between (even though they've been to 1 or more schools/jobs in that time), and I took that as not a very positive sign. If I still had this former student's contact info, I'd let him know that personally.

Apparently, I liked him well enough 4 years ago, so I tried to make the letter as positive as I could given our limited interaction and complete lack of relevance to the position he's applying for.

mike868y 05-18-17 08:39 AM

This question is relevant to my interests. I graduated in 2014 and and had two professors write me letters of rec in fall of 2015 for my masters. I'll be applying to PhD programs this fall and while I'm confident I should be able to get two letters from professors from my masters programs, I'll need one more and was debating if it had been too long since undergrad and I would be better off using my manager from my old job. I'm chronically bad at staying in touch and part of me feels bad consistently going back to these professors for letters, but I guess it's all part of their job?

hack 05-18-17 08:58 AM


Originally Posted by himespau (Post 19592188)
Yeah, that's what I decided to go with. "My experience with him relevant to your position is limited, but this is how I knew him...In our interactions during his time at_______he seemed professional, polite, and intellectually curious. If you want to discuss further or have additional comments, please feel free to contact me."

I'd hope that, in the degree(s) he has apparently gotten since then (needed to be eligible for this position), he has found someone who can provide him a much stronger reference. If not, I'm sure the director of personnel can figure out what that means. I've had several people apply to work for me recently and all their references are as old as I am to this person with nothing in between (even though they've been to 1 or more schools/jobs in that time), and I took that as not a very positive sign. If I still had this former student's contact info, I'd let him know that personally.

Apparently, I liked him well enough 4 years ago, so I tried to make the letter as positive as I could given our limited interaction and complete lack of relevance to the position he's applying for.

It's amazing that the individual didn't reach out before listing you as a reference.

himespau 05-18-17 09:02 AM


Originally Posted by mike868y (Post 19592313)
This question is relevant to my interests. I graduated in 2014 and and had two professors write me letters of rec in fall of 2015 for my masters. I'll be applying to PhD programs this fall and while I'm confident I should be able to get two letters from professors from my masters programs, I'll need one more and was debating if it had been too long since undergrad and I would be better off using my manager from my old job. I'm chronically bad at staying in touch and part of me feels bad consistently going back to these professors for letters, but I guess it's all part of their job?

Well, if it's still grad school, and the professor still remembers you and still has the letter (most of us tend to keep a file of them), the letter from undergrad should still be relevant. I've had people applying to medical school ask me for a letter for 2 or 3 years in a row and I just change the date and send the same letter (don't know whether that's why they're not getting in or not).

My situation was the new job wasn't relevant to what I'd written before, and the person I was supposed to write a reference for hadn't asked me for a reference so the request from the university showed up out of the blue.

I've had students who were outstanding many years ago, that, if they asked me tomorrow, I could write them a letter that really talked about them and what they did and how it was relevant to whatever they wanted, but I've also had students who I've tried to discourage from asking me for a letter and then basically wrote, "this student attended my class in _____, it's a hard class covering ______, so their grade was in the top half or quarter or whatever." If I have attendence data and they showed up a lot, I add that, but it's like a half paragraph letter, and I think that tells a lot about a student too. Sometimes, it's what you have to do; I was a premed before I figured out that I didn't want to be an MD and I had one of those in my packet because some of the schools I'd applied to required a letter from a non-science professor and I hadn't had one of those in 2 years, so I just made sure the other letters were from people who knew me well and thought highly of me.

himespau 05-18-17 09:04 AM


Originally Posted by hack (Post 19592361)
It's amazing that the individual didn't reach out before listing you as a reference.

That's what I didn't know. Because I wrote a letter once, is that a blanket agreement to serve as a reference? I was taught not, but things change quite a bit, and I'm not up on the current norms.

globecanvas 05-18-17 09:06 AM

I have one former colleague who emails me about every 2 years for an updated version of a reference letter I first wrote for him about 10 years ago. Coincidentally he requested it again this morning.

hack 05-18-17 09:09 AM


Originally Posted by himespau (Post 19592381)
That's what I didn't know. Because I wrote a letter once, is that a blanket agreement to serve as a reference? I was taught not, but things change quite a bit, and I'm not up on the current norms.

When I'm hiring someone, I don't go through an applicant's entire reference list, but I'd HOPE they queued up their contacts. If I got a reference call out of the blue, it'd be difficult to sound too glowing.

mike868y 05-18-17 09:39 AM


Originally Posted by himespau (Post 19592378)
Well, if it's still grad school, and the professor still remembers you and still has the letter (most of us tend to keep a file of them), the letter from undergrad should still be relevant. I've had people applying to medical school ask me for a letter for 2 or 3 years in a row and I just change the date and send the same letter (don't know whether that's why they're not getting in or not).

thanks for the insight. I'll be applying to the same departments I used the letter for before (and I got in everywhere I applied for my masters), so I assume just using the same letter would be OK.

Doge 05-18-17 09:40 AM

My son needed 9 ref letters to get into one military academy.

3 for the congressman to get the nomination.
3 after getting the nomination, before the appointment (acceptance).
And then 3 after the appointment, follow-up/security check etc.

topflightpro 05-18-17 10:10 AM

It does not speak well about this former student if he did not contact you before providing you as a reference.

I've received a few phone calls over the years asking for references about former employees or interns out of the blue. In one case, I vaguely remembered the intern's name, but could not remember a single other thing about them. I really couldn't provide a reference. It was always awkward to be surprised like that.

And T-Monk, unless you can get a glowing recommendation from your undergrad prof, I'd suggest going with your current manager.

himespau 05-18-17 10:41 AM


Originally Posted by topflightpro (Post 19592605)
unless you can get a glowing recommendation from your undergrad prof, I'd suggest going with your current manager.

Yeah, there's a couple of different lines of thought about that. Including one old one that's really good plus some new ones shows a pattern of excellence (assuming all are related to what you want to do). Showing a wide variety of different types of people to provide references (assuming the rules don't specify that the people providing them are _________) shows you perform well in a wide variety of areas (which is especially important if what you're applying to do isn't directly related to what you've done before). As recent as possible shows what you are doing now (which is what most people care about and should be the majority of the references). If they don't limit you, you can always do both. There was one time in my life when I wish I'd put extra letters in. I had to have letters from people who met X, Y, and Z categories. I had really strong letters from people in X and Y categories, but the one from Z was not very strong (and I knew it wouldn't be, not negative, just someone who didn't know me well). I knew several other people who fit into category Z and would provide me strong letters, but they knew me because of something other than category Z, so they didn't fit (but offered to write me letters anyway without me asking them). I got one of the positions I'd been looking for with the packet of letters I sent out anyway, but I think one or two extra letters from those people who didn't quite fit the categories would have provided a better view of how rounded I was and what I was capable of without being too many extra to be obnoxious.

globecanvas 05-18-17 11:54 AM

I know weather talk is boring but good lord. Hypothermia Sunday, 95 degrees yesterday, predicted to be in the 40s for the Saturday AM ride.

TMonk 05-18-17 12:50 PM


Originally Posted by topflightpro (Post 19592605)
And T-Monk, unless you can get a glowing recommendation from your undergrad prof, I'd suggest going with your current manager.

What? I think you meant Mikey.

topflightpro 05-18-17 01:04 PM


Originally Posted by TMonk (Post 19593063)
What? I think you meant Mikey.

Yeah, Mikey. Sorry.

TMonk 05-18-17 01:22 PM

no worries. I had to go back a page to make sure I didn't post something that I forgot about haha

mike868y 05-18-17 04:53 PM


Originally Posted by topflightpro (Post 19593105)
Yeah, Mikey. Sorry.

the manager wouldn't be a current manager, I haven't worked there for about a year (since i went back to school) and my old manager has actually moved on to another company.

Flatballer 05-18-17 07:43 PM

It's pretty weird that someone you didn't know that well used you out of the blue years later. I'm guessing they must have been struggling to get references, or specifically needed a professor and grad school didn't go well.

Unless someone specifically told me I could use them whenever (and I've got a few of those) I give them a heads up beforehand. If it's for a job I give them a heads up anyway.

My latest reference deals were for professional engineer licenses, and I used 5 people from a couple jobs back, who I worked with for many years, and have used before for PE references (your references all have to also be licensed). I didn't let them know beforehand, but they were just getting an e-mail with a form to fill out in this case, and I knew they'd all be cool with it. And if they weren't, I could just delete the reference and add a new one.

When I applied for this job recently, I asked everyone beforehand, because I knew they might get a random call, and I wanted them to be prepared.

Flatballer 05-18-17 07:46 PM


Originally Posted by mike868y (Post 19593652)
the manager wouldn't be a current manager, I haven't worked there for about a year (since i went back to school) and my old manager has actually moved on to another company.

A manager who is now at a new company is probably a better reference anyway. Managers are sometimes prevented by policy from giving references on employees at their current company. If they're just giving it as a personal reference, it's different. But when they're a manager it sort of comes from the company, and opens the company up to lawsuits for defamation and stuff.

I know a couple jobs back managers were supposed to say "Call this number for employment verification. Goodbye." Most of them would give personal references though, even though they weren't supposed to.

crazyarm07 05-18-17 08:31 PM


Originally Posted by Doge (Post 19592515)
My son needed 9 ref letters to get into one military academy.

3 for the congressman to get the nomination.
3 after getting the nomination, before the appointment (acceptance).
And then 3 after the appointment, follow-up/security check etc.

I don't remember needing that many. Of course this was 14 years ago (2003), so maybe I'm misremembering. Not that it matters, that just seems like a lot - did they all have to be from different people?

Also, the correct term for USAFA is not "military academy", it's something between "boarding school" and "upscale country club" (PS I'm a USMA 2007 grad, and my dad is a USAFA 1966 grad)

miyata man 05-18-17 09:09 PM

Between having family that attended that academy plus having lived in Colorado Springs and this reference tangent I could fill a few pages. I'll stick to a humorous job references story.

I have a Swiss friend whose references are all Nobel Prize winners. Sweet, huh?

He ended up taking an unpaid internship in the US where he was left utterly alone accounting to no one person in particular. Out of spite for being handed this lowly position he quietly began redoing their entire flawed infrastructure from the ground up with his days. About three months in he went too far with his penetration into their system and raised a giant alarm which saw him escorted out under threat of deportation and a whole slough of other threats they couldn't enforce. To celebrate we spent an entire day cleaning six grocery stores out of American junk food which he shoved into a set of steamer trunks and 8 suitcases for his short trip back home to Europe with the complete list of unobtainable American goods his family requested.

When he got back he was finally settled down enough to explain the job ordeal. The companies that didn't just assume he was padding his resume with outrageous unsubstantiated claims, he is very smart himself and was slumming it a bit over here to begin with, infuriated him to no end by quizzing him the entire first interview about said references. Due to the time difference and the Swiss operating on a very different level nobody believed him. To add to this the type of people in question are quite busy. The real kicker ended up being the false flags thrown up by one of these companies that does background checks. About here he lapsed into curses but the gist of it was he went into the nation wide system as unemployable due to his own fastidiousness, accredited unimpeachable record, and bulletproof list of a dozen references that should have opened any door he knocked on.


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