Will you write me a letter of reference/recommendation for admission to graduate school?
If you’ve done research with me and/or my graduate students, the answer is usually yes, unless something wasn’t working out very well.
If you’ve taken a course that I taught, but haven’t done research with me, the answer is usually “Yes, but you should make sure that’s what you really want.”
Graduate school recommendation letters are most effective when they allow the instructor to say specific and detailed things about the candidate, which is usually more likely when you’ve worked with my students or me over a period of several months in an ongoing project. If I know you only from a course, I usually can’t say a whole lot beyond how you did in the course. If you did amazingly well and we had lots of interactions outside the lecture hall, it is slightly better. But for graduate school recommendations, you should really try to get people who know your work well.
Having said all that, if you still want me to write you a letter, what I need from you is:
- Copy of transcript (unofficial OK)
- CV or resume (best is to have it online and send me URL)
- At least three weeks’ notice
Please don’t ask for a letter on short notice. Thoughtful and strong letters are difficult and time-consuming to write, and if I don’t think I can write you a thoughtful and strong letter, I will probably decline to write one at all.
I’m applying for jobs; will you do a phone interview for a job reference for me?
Generally yes. Please give me a heads-up, and please have the interviewer contact me by email to setup a time to talk.
Would you give me career advice on whether I should apply to grad school, interview for jobs, etc.?
I’d be very happy to. Email me to set up a time to talk.
Note that I can’t tell you what you should do. You should come prepared to tell me what you’ve already thought through, and I will do my best to help!