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advice on a difficult decision

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by sambone, Mar 28, 2007.

  1. sambone

    sambone Cornell 2013 5+ Year Member

    Aug 3, 2005
    New York
    This is probably a unique situation, but if anyone has some input it would be really appreciated - this dilemma is keeping me up at night!

    I've been a research tech in a lab for two years now and recently got offered an animal related, non-research job that really interests me and would add more diversity to my somewhat paltry animal experience.
    My problem is that the PI I work for will probably be so ticked off that I'm leaving, I think he won't write me a recommendation (Even though I've worked my butt off, been a pretty good tech and will give ~3months notice).
    I don't have a contract or anything, but he expected me to be around another year.
    A post-doc in my lab said she'd write a great one for me, but I don't know how that looks. I'm pretty sure the lack of one from my PI would raise red flags.
    The other problem is that my tech job is pretty rigid, and it's been really hard to fit in the volunteering and some of the classes I need to make me competitive. (I'm a non-trad)
    Man...this is such a crappy, lose-lose situation.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2008
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  3. cyrille104

    cyrille104 2+ Year Member

    Jul 14, 2006
    Is there any way to talk to your PI and tactfully ask him if he'd be pissed if you left?
  4. turix


    Mar 16, 2007
    I got a post Doc to write a recommendation for me instead of my PI because at the time I was closer to the post doc. My situation is a little different because the post doc is also a teacher at my school.
  5. sambone

    sambone Cornell 2013 5+ Year Member

    Aug 3, 2005
    New York
    I wish!...I asked to work 30hrs instead of 40hrs per week so I could fit in some classes, and that didn't go over well at all. I can only imagine how he'll respond to my resignation.
  6. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member 2+ Year Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Not very good, unfortunately, is my guess. It's a shame, because most of the undergrads (or post-baccs) doing research are not working directly for the PI, and may hardly ever talk to the PI especially if the lab is big. So the post-doc or grad student supervising you is probably in a much better position to evaluate your performance. But the adcom (who are professors) are likely to assume that these people who are themselves still in training are not qualified to write a "real" recommendation, whatever that means.

    I wish I had something encouraging or positive to say. :(

    He knows that you're applying to vet school though, right? Are you applying this coming cycle? If he's like most non-vet PIs then you could probably tell him anything you want about the timeline for applications. How about you ask him to write your recommendation *now* and submit it as soon as VMCAS opens, and then resign immediately after...?
  7. hoodle

    hoodle UC-Davis DVM/PhD 2+ Year Member

    Dec 18, 2006
    very clever... but if the PI is somehow the really vindictive sort, as he sounds like he is, he might realize the deviousness and that he's been had, and withdraw the rec or contact VMCAS or something...
  8. Sassygirl

    Sassygirl OSU CVM Class of 2011 2+ Year Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    That is a tricky situation. I think you have to tell him however... A one dimensional application can really hurt you when it comes time to apply... I guess I would just talk to him and make sure that he knows that your ultimate goal is veterinary school and, in order to do that, you need diverse experience. Make it very clear to him that you appreciate the opportuntity that he has given you but now it is time for you to move on and try something new. If possible, you might also give him considerable notice (ie a month or two) and offer to help train your replacement...

    P.S. If he's the kind of guy that will respond to flattery, maybe emphasize that a letter recommendation from a person of his caliber will really help your application and that you would hate to lose such a valuable rec...
  9. TurboVet

    TurboVet 2+ Year Member

    Jan 10, 2007
    man, sometimes i feel like i'm the grandma on here giving advice-
    i actually had the same EXACT dilemma as you, and was told by my PI in not-so-matter of fact terms that if i left the lab (to go back to school full time) he would not be writing a letter of recc for me, even though he had the previous year. but if i stayed and took 11 years taking 1 class at a time to satisfy pre-reqs, he'd write me a great letter. so i left and went back to school. i don't take kindly to blackmail. and i actually had one of the vets i worked with through the lab write my letter and got no ill questions about it.
    some PIs write elaborate letters without really saying anything (kinda like how they act:p), when you can actually get a better letter from someone you work for in a job where you really are committed and enjoying yourself. no one asked me why i didn't have a letter from my long term PI, and personally, i think that adcoms know that sometimes you aren't working face to face, day to day with a PI. they're off at meetings or running around.
    go for the interesting job and get a letter from the job where you will really be showing your interest in vet med.
  10. Capella

    Capella OK-State 2011 2+ Year Member

    Nov 29, 2006
    Since you're leaving your current position to pursue further experience, maybe you can get recommendation letters from future acquaintances. On VMCAS there are only three spots for rec letters, so if an admissions committee asks you why you don't have a recommendation letter from this period in your life, just say there wasn't room. If your other experiences lead to kick ass rec letters, you won't be lying at all!
  11. wildfocus

    wildfocus DVM/PhD student 5+ Year Member

    Nov 14, 2006
    Rocky Mountain High
    my sense is that if your PI is like this, he wouldn't write you a great LOR anyway. better to get out of his lab now, than stick around for him to screw you over some other way, and end up wasting a year you could have been doing something you wanted...
  12. Ottolove

    Ottolove 2+ Year Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    I was in a VERY similar situation. I worked in a very prestigious lab, was getting my name tons on papers, but wasn't getting any of what I wanted out of the experience: personal growth, acquisition of new techniques, respect, etc. I passive aggressively put my resume on and immediately got a job offer for what was essentially my dream job. I left my crap job, had my name pulled off all of the papers I had done all of the work for, had nasty phone calls and emails sent to my new employer, it sucked.

    But now, less than two years later, things couldn't be better. I love my job, got accepted to multiple schools, and am so happy that I am not working for the nasty, manipulative jerks at my old job. My LOR from my new PI is awesome. I also was offered multiple LORs from postdocs. The points made about having a great and personal LOR I believe are very appropriate. Take a new job that will round out your experience and who you are personally. If you can get an LOR from a postdoc where you are now, do it. Lots of the schools I applied to actually gave me the opportunity to talk about my work experience during the interview, and I believe that LEAVING my old job on the terms I did actually strengthened my application.

    Hope this helps!
  13. wivet2011

    wivet2011 2+ Year Member

    Mar 9, 2007
    Doesn't sound like your boss is very supportive of your goals. I would go for the other job, especially if it really interests you. Bet you could get an even better LOR from your new boss if you show the same dedication there as your current job. Plus, like you said, it'll add diversity to your experience and maybe open other doors of opportunity.
  14. QTkitty

    QTkitty CSU PVM class of 2011 2+ Year Member

    Jan 24, 2007
    Although I haven't experienced what you are going through, I'd agree that if your boss is that much of a jerk, do you really expect a great letter anyway? If you do and you still really want to take this opportunity I would give a 30 day notice (if you give too much notice he may either make your remaining time hellish or just drop you right then). When you approach him to discuss your notice and letter of recc. I would make sure to tell him how much you've done working there, if he's ever complimented you/your work- remind him of that, and thank him profusely for the opportunity he has given you to work there and learn from him. Also make sure that you tell him that this new job is a really great opportunity for you, both personally and professionally, and make sure, as stated before, that he knows that vet school is your ultimate goal. I really hope this works out for you but if not, either try to get a letter from someone else who works there or get one from the people you will be working for in this new job. If you do ask him for a letter make sure to check the schools you want to apply for because some (namely CSU) will only accept electronic letters and he will therefore be unable to write it until VMCAS makes the new application available. GOOD LUCK :luck:
  15. sambone

    sambone Cornell 2013 5+ Year Member

    Aug 3, 2005
    New York
    Thanks y'all.
    I'd never wish this on anyone but it was helpful to hear about other similar experiences.
    The PI has known since my interview that I planned to take classes/apply to vet school, but for the past 2 years he's tried to convince me to do otherwise. I think he thought I'd give up eventually.
    I'm pretty sure I'm going to take the new job, and in 1 or 2 years from now (still undecided about applying this cycle) I'll know if I made a good or bad decision!
  16. mkata

    mkata Cornell CVM 2011 2+ Year Member

    Dec 5, 2006
    You could also get him to write the rec and submit it before you quit (if you apply this cycle).

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