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Help deciding recommenders

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rjain5 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Help deciding recommenders

Post Thu Jun 28, 2012 10:18 am
I am having a little trouble with my choice of recommenders and I hope I can get some advice here.

As of now, my two recommenders are from work - one is a senior colleague, and the other is my head of department (not my supervisor). Let’s just say, my supervisor and I don’t get along very well, and my head of dept understands that. The senior colleague is very supportive of my plan for an MBA will likely give me a stellar recommendation. My head of dept is supportive, and willing to give me a good reco, just not a spectacular one (think problems with supervisor).

The problem - should I get someone else who is more enthusiastic than my head of dept?? I will probably get something better than a ‘good’ reco when I work with him.
If yes - who? My extracurricular activities are with friends mostly. I have won medals competing in Badminton at the State Games, so do you think it may be good to get one from my doubles partner? In my honest opinion, I think this may fall in the friend/family category, which is generally not acceptable. But, I want to know what others think before I reject the idea outright.
Would it help, if I work on a project with him? He is a professor at the university, and his research is broadly related to my field of work. What if I join him as a volunteer consultant on a project, does that make him a better choice of a recommender? I may only get to work for a couple of months on this project, before my R1 application deadlines though.

I will be thankful for any insight I can get into this

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myEssayReview Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:13 pm
Getting a reco from your doubles partner is not at all a good idea as this will fall in friends category( you know it already). However, if you plan to join him as a volunteer consultant, and work with him for a couple of months (you don’t have more than 3 months now ) before your R-1 dead line comes through, you may consider taking his reco., if you want. Generally, a professor’s reco is not preferred, but it is not totally a killer as well . One of the applicants I have worked with chose his professor as his recommender and he was accepted into LBS.

So the best choice for a recommend er is definitely your direct supervisor , and if that is not possible ,you may go for either of the two you suggested . I would suggest you not to fret too much about the recos and instead focus on making your essays convincing and engaging , for essays that make an impression on the AD Com about your strong candidacy will play a major role in getting you in.

I hope it helped.

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youngjames Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Fri Jun 29, 2012 7:26 am
most programs will ask for 2 recos. many candds will submit 3. the 3rd one is often from a friend, family, or doubles partner, in your case. the purpose of this 3rd reco is to add a new layer or dimension to your application. you need to view a reco like this for what it is: not a professional endorsement, but one add'l data element that may add a new piece to the puzzle of what defines you. these add'l recos were sometimes annoying, b/c it creates extra work for the adcom, but they can also be effective if done correctly.

when i was on the adcom, our general rule was that your reco will not get you but it could keep you out. apps with less than stellar recos were a red flag. when you compare yourself against how many ppl are applying for a spot at a top mba school, you need to realize the adcom really splits hairs. so, if there are hundreds of apps with great recos, the ones without great recos are easy to spot and dismiss.

my advice is to avoid the head of your dept and look perhaps for an indirect supervisor (dotted line manager). the level of the recommender is almost never relevant unless you're getting a reco from the VP of the USA (the president is - by law - not allowed to write them). the adcom sees recs from all over the place and at all levels. they will not be impressed by a VP/EVP or even CEO when they see them routinely from ppl much more powerful. what's MOST IMPORTANT is to get someone WHO REALLY KNOWS YOU and can speak to why you want to go to bschool.

another red flag (not that you asked) was when we saw recos with top scores all the way across. these were also dismissed b/c it didn't feel like the recommender thought it thru and processed what was being asked.

hope that's helpful,
-james young

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rjain5 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:01 am
If I understand correctly, this is what I can do:

1. Get that spectacular reco form my senior colleague - who was also my supervisor for an interim period
2. Wok with the head of dept to get a ‘very good’ reco - even though his title is ‘head of department,’ our dept is only 20 people, so I work with him directly too
3. Work on a project with my friend (doubles partner and university prof) as a volunteer consultant - get his reco but keep it as a safety net. If the final recommendation from the Head of Dept doesn’t pan out to be very good, then use him as the additional reco

Try to make sure that the reco doesn’t keep me out, given everything else is in order.

Does that sound fine?

CollegeGrl81 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sun Aug 19, 2012 2:59 pm
In regards to the conversation:

I am curious about recommendations also. You say that it is best to get one from the immediate supervisor. Yet I am curious, wouldn't a superior further up like a Manager or Lead partner be better? I work with a supervisor, but I also work closely with my manager and director of our Dept. Also, seeming I work in a clinic with medical Surgeons, would a letter from one of them be beneficial? What I am trying to understand is what type of recommendation letters are MBA programs looking for in determining our strengths as a candidate? Please let me know, as I am new to this process.

youngjames Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:56 am
A letter of recommendation from a sr manager or division leader is good, but the reason the direct supervisor's input is important is because chances are that your direct supervisor has a better idea of your work quality and can provide more specifics in the reco. adcoms care less about the title of the recommender and more about whether your letter truly represents who you are and provides dimension to your file.

i've written an article that provides a primer on the reco letter process. maybe this will give you a starting off point as you begin your journey on mba admissions. http://www.thefirstread.com/mba-admissions-letters-of-recommendation/

hope that's helpful,
-james

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