Do you need a reference letter?

These letters are an integral part of most job applications and are typically used to gauge aspects of the candidate that are not stated in the application file. I am not interested in providing false/empty statements and it is in your own interest to find the people who can say good things about you and your work.

Therefore, I ask you to consider that:

  • I can only provide letters of recommendations to students who have taken classes or performed research under direct my supervision. I do not write letters for people I don’t know.
  • The letter will describe a personal opinion related to your performance, character and attitude towards the assigned duties. As a result, the letter will describe my honest appraisal of your work, as I expect others to do the same thing when I make hiring decisions.
  • All reference letters will be considered confidential. Therefore, by requesting the reference letter, you are waiving your right to access such letter under the terms of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) or any other regulation that may apply.
  • Potential employers/funding agencies often ask these letters to comment on soft aspects and skills such as:
    • Self-motivation of the candidate
    • How proactive the candidate is?
    • Does the candidate care about his/her duties?
    • Typical working hours
    • Does the candidate make good use of time?
    • Capacity to stay focused during working hours (social media, breaks, etc)
    • Capacity to learn and retain new information
    • Capacity to address problems and find innovative solutions
    • Capacity to do independent work
    • Capacity to identify and follow priorities
    • Capacity to interpret scientific literature
    • Capacity to accurately describe a problem based on facts/experimental results
    • Level of productivity compared to peers
    • How often the candidate presented excuses and/or missed deadlines?
    • Attention to detail
    • Integrity and capacity to interact/work with others
    • In other words… the stronger the performance, the stronger the letter

If you still have questions, you may want to check this article on how not to ask for a reference letter. Now, if you think your performance is adequate and would like to proceed, please provide/consider:

  • An unofficial copy of your transcript, including GPA
  • Your curriculum vitae or resume
  • A general statement of purpose (this is specially important for Med/Grad school)
  • Any additional information that you would like me to highlight or that could help me write the letter you deserve (GRE or MCAT scores, number of presentations, REU experience, etc)
  • Writing these letters takes time, so keep in mind that I will need at least two week’s notice.
  • I will try my best to let you know when the letter has been submitted but it is your exclusive responsibility to send reminders and to verify that the letter has been received.