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Mouri
September 7th, 2015, 07:32
Hello everyone! A few of you may recall but I have a trip to Japan planned for October 1-19. Due to this, I'd really like to have my JET application in a 'comfortable state' before I leave. Mostly, I hope to have a decent SoP and my references lined up. The only problem is I'm having a bit of a challenge with my references, especially who to ask. I was hoping ya'll could give me some insight. I have a few I'm thinking about but wanted to hear some other opinions. I am mainly curious about my second choice as I think my first is well-decided.

Person #1: (I'm about 95% sure I will use him--he has already agreed and said he will give me his highest recommendation) While I was teaching in Italy last year I met this man. He was from Georgia (by Russia, not in the US) pursuing his PhD. We met and became great friends. I helped him with improving his academic English verbally and edited his research papers and powerpoints that he presented at Berkeley and the University he teaches at back home. He also saw (and commented on numerous times) my mental growth during my time abroad. He's one of the best academics regarded in his country so I think he's a great choice.

Person #2: He was my supervisor at my previous job of 4 years. We became great friends and talk all the time even though he is 50 and I'm 24. He would always comment on my work ethic and interpersonal communication skills and said that he would offer me his best recommendation as long as I drafted it. We never worked together academically (except for me teaching him Italian and Japanese words at work), but he knows me the best out of all of my proposed references.

Person #3: She is a professor I took an International Relations class with while in University. She knew me fairly well and said she would be happy to help me out professionally if she could. She also nominated one of my research papers for the Political Science department's "Best Paper of the Year Award." We last spoke about a year ago. I emailed her a few months ago but she didn't reply. She travels frequently to China. She knows me pretty well academically but I only had one class with her and it was a couple years ago.

Person #4: He is a professor I took a International Relations class with while in University. He knows me moderately well and is very fond of my writing. He is easy to get a hold of but I don't think he remembers me very well as a student (we mainly would have small talk outside of class, but very little inside class). If I were to ask him, he could probably write a decent letter but without any real substance or power to it that would show I'm a good candidate for JET. I have no way of knowing and that is what worries me.

Person #5: She is one of the Program Coordinators for the Italy program I used who knew me moderately well. I worked with her coordinating activities (much like a CIR does with JET) abroad as well as reported to her the status of the classes I taught. She understands what I have done and knows what I am capable of but we only knew each other for four months and her English isn't the best (she could write a good letter but it wouldn't really be considered academic or scholarly). The downside is that it might take her two months to do it and that is with me reminding her often.

Person #6: She is an Italian graduate student who I have been talking to very frequently over the past two years through a language exchange. I've helped her improve her English quite a bit through written and verbal communication and she was able to get accepted to a very prestigious pharmaceutical research job with her improved English abilities. We never worked together but she was technically a student of mine who I helped grow academically.

Person #7: The professor I worked with in the University-level English course I taught abroad. She would be a definite choice if not for the fact that I have already asked her for two other letters of recommendation. With the last it took her over three months to finish it and I don't feel it was really good. She watched me improve as a teacher during my first experience teaching a class of students (as opposed to the one-on-one I have been accustomed to), I just don't think I could ask her for a third recommendation and expect it to be done prior to the application deadline.

These are the people I am currently debating between. They all have their pros and cons which is what makes it hard for me to decide. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. :)

ありがとう!!!

BifCarbet
September 7th, 2015, 07:44
1 and 2.

uthinkimlost?
September 7th, 2015, 08:21
I disagree with #1. That is a student. You don't ask students for letters of rec. It is also your friend, so unless you can concoct some story in which he had some reason to judge your performance from a supervisor's, or even coworker's, perspective, I don't see how it can look good.

Of course, people get in with far less, so...

GodInStrafeMode
September 7th, 2015, 11:00
#2 and #3

Gizmotech
September 7th, 2015, 13:40
Umm, are you graduating or graduated? If you're graduating one of them HAS TO BE a professor in your uni.

Mouri
September 7th, 2015, 14:01
Umm, are you graduating or graduated? If you're graduating one of them HAS TO BE a professor in your uni.

Hi Gizmo. I graduated in 2014, actually.

Does JET strongly prefer academic over professional references?

Gizmotech
September 7th, 2015, 14:54
No, It just has a rule that says if you're still currently a student during the application process that one reference must be a professor.

Jiggit
September 7th, 2015, 15:31
#2 and #3 seem to be pretty obvious bets, followed closely by #5.

#1 and #6 just don't make sense if you have all those other options open. Honestly unless you're seriously overselling yourself most of them would be more than enough for JET.

Mouri
September 8th, 2015, 05:11
Thanks for the feedback everyone. I'm going to proceed with #2 right now.

Regarding #1 vs. #3. I see what you all mean with #1 being a student reference and not necessarily a professional one since we never worked together. The tough part for me is that I know he will write a great letter and even let me review it beforehand, whereas #3 will not. So while #1 might not have the best relationship with me (recommendation-wise), I know the quality of his letter.

I could argue that I have helped #1 with his work back home as he does lecture in English and I have reviewed and helped him with his lectures and presentations.

Gizmotech
September 8th, 2015, 06:53
That's something I always never understood. Why do people think they should be able to review the contents of a recommendation letter?

I mean seriously, it shouldn't be required in any event.

Ini
September 8th, 2015, 08:42
I read one of my reference letters before it was sealed and the guy who wrote it wasn't anyone who I had ever worked for......

Jiggit
September 8th, 2015, 09:47
Thanks for the feedback everyone. I'm going to proceed with #2 right now.

Regarding #1 vs. #3. I see what you all mean with #1 being a student reference and not necessarily a professional one since we never worked together. The tough part for me is that I know he will write a great letter and even let me review it beforehand, whereas #3 will not. So while #1 might not have the best relationship with me (recommendation-wise), I know the quality of his letter.

I could argue that I have helped #1 with his work back home as he does lecture in English and I have reviewed and helped him with his lectures and presentations.

Like I said, I know my mum will write me a great letter, but it wouldn't be in a professional relationship so it's invalid. One of the first things they're going to read in any reference letter is what their relationship with you is. Once they see this is not an employer or academic reference they're going to wonder why you didn't have anyone more appropriate you can ask.

Also gizmo is right, you shouldn't expect to be able to read reference letters ever really.

naginataonthebrain
September 9th, 2015, 15:48
I'm also in the "don't read your recommendation letter" camp. If you read it and have them edit it, that just undermines the strength of your application. If they like you enough, they will write a good recommendation. It's that simple.

weepinbell
September 11th, 2015, 12:04
I wouldn't worry so much about being able to read it beforehand. Chances are, if you know the person well and have a good relationship, they'll write you a good one. I didn't see either of mine beforehand. They were both written by my former professors, so for me, 2 & 3 seem like the most logical. Sounds like they know you best in a professional environment. With #2 I think it's okay you never worked together academically because he'll know your work ethic best which I think is really important. Sounds like #3 will definitely take care of the academic part.

Mouri
September 11th, 2015, 14:30
Hello everyone,

It isn't that I feel like I should be able to read the letters beforehand, but when someone offers to let me, I can't help but be interested in what they said.

I've reached out to Reference #2 and he is happy to help me. #1 has already been happy to help. I'm attempting to reach out to #3 but in the event that I can't get a hold of her for whatever reason, would #1 be a better choice? I didn't make many good contacts in university besides #3. I'll reach out to her and hope she's accessible as she spends years in China and they have some perplexing internet censorship regulations. :P

uthinkimlost?
September 11th, 2015, 15:22
I wouldn't worry so much about being able to read it beforehand. Chances are, if you know the person well and have a good relationship, they'll write you a good one.

I've seen enough letters to say maybe not. You'd be surprised how many people have their job prospects hampered by bad or bland letters. People can be all smiles, but more than happy to tell everyone your lazy/sh't habits.

Choose people you REALLY know. Choose people you trust. Choose people you didn't screw over or won't be screwing over if you depart.

Ini
September 11th, 2015, 17:41
Go with the most impressive.

if it comes down to the manager of McDonald's who you have worked with for 3 years or the director of a Fortune 500 company who you only know because your father plays golf with him at the weekend go for captain moneybags.

BifCarbet
September 11th, 2015, 19:42
Go with the most impressive.

if it comes down to the manager of McDonald's who you have worked with for 3 years or the director of a Fortune 500 company who you only know because your father plays golf with him at the weekend go for captain moneybags.

Always the right decision.

Mouri
September 13th, 2015, 08:45
In the even that I cannot get a hold of #3, would #1 be advisable, ya'll think?

Jiggit
September 13th, 2015, 11:06
In the even that I cannot get a hold of #3, would #1 be advisable, ya'll think?

Everyone's told you not to go with #1 and you've asked like 5 times. I don't know what else you're expecting.

Edit: Alright, keep it civil in applying, please.

x_stei
September 14th, 2015, 02:52
#1 sounds great. You sound like you're pretty set on picking him. I'm not going to try to change your mind.

That said, if you end up choosing #1, think about your background and your experiences with which he doesn't have a direct relationship. For the second letter writer, pick the person who knows more about that. That way there is a balance between your recommendation letters.

I think the recommendations against picking #1 is because the way you described this person. This person sounds far too personal to write an objective recommendation letter for a professional program.

Mouri
September 22nd, 2015, 13:54
Everyone's told you not to go with #1 and you've asked like 5 times. I don't know what else you're expecting.

Edit: Alright, keep it civil in applying, please.

Yeah, you are right and I'm sorry for that. He's just already written me a recommendation and so I suppose I was looking for some more people to offer support for him. :P Also, because I have been unable to reach my academic references.


#1 sounds great. You sound like you're pretty set on picking him. I'm not going to try to change your mind.

That said, if you end up choosing #1, think about your background and your experiences with which he doesn't have a direct relationship. For the second letter writer, pick the person who knows more about that. That way there is a balance between your recommendation letters.

I think the recommendations against picking #1 is because the way you described this person. This person sounds far too personal to write an objective recommendation letter for a professional program.

I really like your advice! While I may still be on the fence between fully committing to #1 being a reference, #2 (my manager of 3.5 years) knows me better than any professor and said he is happy to write a letter.

I am not very familiar with how the applications change each year but I could have sworn that last year instead of an actual letter, JET asked for references to fill out something of a questionnaire? Whereas this year it looks like they are looking for a letter. Is this correct? Or maybe they are updating the site later with another question sheet?

Saga
September 22nd, 2015, 17:33
No, that's not correct - last year was also letters, at least in the US, where I applied from. I suppose it could be different in other countries, but I've never heard of anywhere that had questionnaires instead of letters of recommendation.

Zolrak 22
September 22nd, 2015, 18:04
No, that's not correct - last year was also letters, at least in the US, where I applied from. I suppose it could be different in other countries, but I've never heard of anywhere that had questionnaires instead of letters of recommendation.
Though you gotta admit, that would expedite the process.

Just have every multiple choice run through a machine and anyone with a low score is automatically rejected.

No reason to check their files. [emoji28]

uthinkimlost?
September 22nd, 2015, 20:23
Cover sheets are provided. They're expected to fill out the cover and write the letter.

Mouri
September 24th, 2015, 11:55
Though you gotta admit, that would expedite the process.

Just have every multiple choice run through a machine and anyone with a low score is automatically rejected.

No reason to check their files. [emoji28]

Ahhaha I must have wrote my message incorrectly. I was only aware of the cover sheet that must be filled in. I didn't think that references were expected to fill in a multiple choice sheet. xD


Anywho, thank you everyone for your comments. I just want the online application to become available now!!!