Information for Seniors
Letters of Recommendation
When you need me to write letters for you, I need the following (you can email me the info in text, Microsoft Word, or PDF): your resume, a copy of whatever you are sending to the grad school or employer, including essays,and a short, informal paragraph providing me with any additional material for the letter. This paragraph can include info about your summer job and how it prepared you for grad school/employment; it's your chance to let me know anything extra that you would like the letter to include. Don't stress about this, I'll only use it to help you.
Email my faculty assistant, at least a month before your first deadline, to have her block 2 hours on my calendar for writing the letter. Send me your supporting material before that scheduled time so I can refer to it when writing the letter.
When I send out the letter, I will email you confirmation. YOU SHOULD NOT ASSUME THAT I HAVE SENT OUT A LETTER UNTIL YOU GET EMAIL CONFIRMATION — this is my way of making sure I don't miss any deadlines! If you haven't heard from me and the deadline is tomorrow, *please* double check. (Don't worry, I've never had any problems, but when there are lots of letters to go out things get complicated).
For job searches, I'm not sure how much I have to add. Talk to each other and use all of the resources available to you! For a price, www.wetfeet.com can provide booklets for most of the major consulting firms, I-banks, etc.
For grad school, however, I have more advice...
See "Advice for Applying to Grad Schools in Economics" in the left column.
If you are planning to apply to grad school, but not for a year or two, you still need to do some things this year. Figure out who your letter writers will be, and meet with them individually, telling them about your plans. Some of them might prefer to write a letter now or make notes, so they will remember in a few year's time.
If you are applying to grad school this fall, now is the time to plan out your schedule.
- When are the applications due? Do they fall right on top of final exams? If so, plan ahead. In particular, when are fellowship applications due? These typically come earlier than the grad school deadlines. The NSF deadline is early in the fall. Since funding makes a huge difference in grad school, don't miss any opportunity to apply. Have you taken all of the relevant tests?
- Who are the professors who will be writing your letters? You typically need at least three. Have you seen all of them recently? Do they know about your plans for grad school? Some professors will feel more involved if you ask them for advice. It is important that they know you are serious about grad school, that you understand what it is all about, and that you are qualified. Make sure this comes across when you meet with them. Check with them now about writing letters,this gives you plenty of time to seek out someone else if they seem hesitant(if someone says, "gee, I'm not sure I know you very well" that is a bad sign).
- What are you going to write about in your essays? For a PhD program, these usually require a description of your past research experience and your future research interests. Some students will have a thesis or a summer research project to report on — that is terrific. The essays flow nicely when you can relate this project to your future work. The main thing people are looking for here is that you know what grad school is all about and that you understand what research is. It also helps if you include a sentence or two which indicates why a given school is good for you — this can be as simple as naming the faculty in the field. But be careful here -- make sure your information is up to date, and check it out with a faculty member here.
For economics, they could care less if you actually do what you say you are going to do in the essay, but in some of the sciences, the information might be relevant for matching you to specific labs or sources of funding. Talking about the essay with your letter-writers is a good way for them to get up to date with your interests, and to get feedback. You should definitely get at least one faculty member to review your essay: trust me on this. That means getting it done early. You'll be surprised at how hard it is to write 2 pages.
- Don't forget to allow time in the spring to go and visit the programs you are interested in, for interviews if required (i.e. med school), or to meet the faculty (PhD programs). Visiting is essential for figuring out a good match, and you can make contacts that might help you later!
I hope this helps. Good luck!