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Thread: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

  1. #1

    Default Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    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!!!

  2. #2
    read half. react. BifCarbet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    1 and 2.
    車庫 B1F

  3. #3

    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    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...
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    But what if we reverse the polarity of the quantum string theory? According to uncertainty principle there are infinite worlds out there, so it stands to reason schrodinger's cat is alive in one of them.


    Quote Originally Posted by Apollo87;
    U da real mvp.

  4. #4
    Senior Member GodInStrafeMode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    #2 and #3
    /\\//\/\ /\\//\/\ /\\//\/\

  5. #5
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    Umm, are you graduating or graduated? If you're graduating one of them HAS TO BE a professor in your uni.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cytrix View Post
    Organising anything with ALTs is like herding cats on catnip

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonath View Post
    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotech View Post
    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?

  7. #7
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cytrix View Post
    Organising anything with ALTs is like herding cats on catnip

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonath View Post
    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    #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.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    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.

  10. #10
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cytrix View Post
    Organising anything with ALTs is like herding cats on catnip

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonath View Post
    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

  11. #11
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    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......
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    Quote Originally Posted by Mouri View Post
    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.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    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.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    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.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    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

  16. #16

    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    Quote Originally Posted by weepinbell View Post
    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    But what if we reverse the polarity of the quantum string theory? According to uncertainty principle there are infinite worlds out there, so it stands to reason schrodinger's cat is alive in one of them.


    Quote Originally Posted by Apollo87;
    U da real mvp.

  17. #17
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    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.
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  18. #18
    read half. react. BifCarbet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    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.
    車庫 B1F

  19. #19

    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    In the even that I cannot get a hold of #3, would #1 be advisable, ya'll think?

  20. #20

    Default Re: Seeking Advice: Trying to figure out who would make the best references

    Quote Originally Posted by Mouri View Post
    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.

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