Friday, September 30, 2011

Letters of Recommendation

This is a line from a resume I was given recently:

 Effective communications skills – Written two research presentation

This is a from a native English speaker that just graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in a scientific field.

I have a hard time telling students I can't help them, it is afterall "officially" my job. But what do you do in cases where the students are mediocre and didn't get an A in any class in college? Would you write a letter of recommendation for them? Do you just say sorry, you should have tried harder? What if they did try their best? Can I just highlight what they did well, say that they are hard working, and not mention their shortcomings?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Meeting the Big Wigs

I want to post things, really I do. I just never seem to be in front of a computer when I have things to say, and when I am in front of a computer, I have a million other things to do.

Anyway, here's what's up. A fairly well known, well established professor working in my research area is visiting our department next week. They would probably be a good candidate to write a letter for my tenure package. I'm having lunch with them. Here's what I'm racking my brain about...what do I talk with them about? Do I tell them about all the cool stuff I'm working on and planning to do? They have a big, well-funded lab. What are the odds that they will steal my stuff? Or worse, what if they think my ideas are crap? Can I ask them for advice or will this look bad? Should I ask them about their research? Should I keep it casual and not talk about research unless they bring it up?

I'm growing paranoid that everyone is judging me and my work. My department will vote on me getting tenure. I feel like I have to choose my discussions very carefully, not to rub anyone the wrong way. Our college is small and faculty in other departments will have a say in my promotion as well. Can things be going too well? Will tenured faculty that are having trouble recruiting or getting funding hold a grudge? I'm meeting other people in my field ahead of me at conferences. Can I tell them about problems or frustrations? Maybe they will be writing letters. It's driving me a little crazy.