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Fatal Error?

TJuniper

Full Member
Aug 7, 2009
31
0
USA
  1. Pre-Psychology
    Someone I know is a TA and RA in a university. He made a mistake, which made him seem arrogant. His mentor is an important researcher and had previously liked him alot. He compounded it by not realizing it for a long time, and since then his mentor has been very cold to him.
    The question is practical: Should he continue with his mentor and risk a poor reference, or try to get another position (unlikely, but more possible now than later since he has just started working there?)
    What would you do?
    Are these types of things common? I'm an undergraduate and if this is typical in psych grad programs I don't know how you all live with it!
     

    Ollie123

    Full Member
    10+ Year Member
    Feb 19, 2007
    5,228
    2,575
    1. Psychologist
      Hard to say without knowing more details. I would err on the side of telling this person to man-up (or woman-up if the case may be) and figure out how to apologize and make up for the error. That's how I would generally handle a situation like that, and I think most people generally respect those who admit their screw ups and fix them much more than those who run away. Disagreements will happen, and if this person's idea of a solution is to run off, that does not bode well for their career. What happens if they upset a client? Cancel appointments rather than face them again until the client drops? What about a graduate advisor? Change dissertation topics and career paths over something like this? No, that is not the way a future professional should be handling interpersonal conflict.

      That said, that is contingent upon how the faculty member would likely react which I can't say without knowing them. If the faculty member is a nutcase (some are, though I wouldn't say its common), than it may not be the best approach. If they are anything like me, they would appreciate that kind of self-assessment and insight and would not hold it against them unless it continued to happen.
       
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      D

      deleted176373

        First a piece of advise.

        Rule #1, NEVER ALLOW ANY ONE PROFESSOR TO WRITE RECOMMENDATIONS TO ALL YOUR PROGRAMS UNLESS YOU KNOW FOR A FACT WHAT THEY WILL WRITE.

        Second, I was in a situation where I was a RA for a up and coming but influential professor who I had a serious falling out with. She was NOT going to EVER write me a good letter, or so I believed since she had already tried to throw me under the bus. I could NOT use her under ANY circumstance despite working in her lab for 2 years.

        I had to find extremely strong letter writers to offset this. What I did was immediately fire this woman as my thesis advisor and switched to another professor as a thesis advisor. This new advisor was more senior, a full professor, and most importantly she really respected me as a student. My other letter writers consisted of senior honors professors and the associate dean of the honors college.

        My letter writers consisted of 5 strong writers that I rotated through to make sure that no one writer could destroy my chances at all programs. Believe it or not, the first year through one of my advisers had tremendous personal difficulties and her letters were less than stellar. She was not invited to write for me again. By limiting specific advisers to specific programs I could identify weak letter writers who wrote blind recommendation letters.

        If it were me, I would hitch my cart to another horse unless he can apologize and be SURE, and I mean absolutely SURE that this person will write him an astounding letter. A bad LOR will end your chances quicker than ANYTHING ELSE.

        Mark
         

        TJuniper

        Full Member
        Aug 7, 2009
        31
        0
        USA
        1. Pre-Psychology
          Hard to say without knowing more details. I would err on the side of telling this person to man-up (or woman-up if the case may be) and figure out how to apologize and make up for the error. That's how I would generally handle a situation like that, and I think most people generally respect those who admit their screw ups and fix them much more than those who run away. Disagreements will happen, and if this person's idea of a solution is to run off, that does not bode well for their career. What happens if they upset a client? Cancel appointments rather than face them again until the client drops? What about a graduate advisor? Change dissertation topics and career paths over something like this? No, that is not the way a future professional should be handling interpersonal conflict.

          That said, that is contingent upon how the faculty member would likely react which I can't say without knowing them. If the faculty member is a nutcase (some are, though I wouldn't say its common), than it may not be the best approach. If they are anything like me, they would appreciate that kind of self-assessment and insight and would not hold it against them unless it continued to happen.
          Apparently he already made a series of smaller mistakes, and then he made this one that really upset his mentor.

          The mentor is unpredictable in terms of how he'll react.
          First a piece of advise.

          Rule #1, NEVER ALLOW ANY ONE PROFESSOR TO WRITE RECOMMENDATIONS TO ALL YOUR PROGRAMS UNLESS YOU KNOW FOR A FACT WHAT THEY WILL WRITE.

          Second, I was in a situation where I was a RA for a up and coming but influential professor who I had a serious falling out with. She was NOT going to EVER write me a good letter, or so I believed since she had already tried to throw me under the bus. I could NOT use her under ANY circumstance despite working in her lab for 2 years.

          I had to find extremely strong letter writers to offset this. What I did was immediately fire this woman as my thesis advisor and switched to another professor as a thesis advisor. This new advisor was more senior, a full professor, and most importantly she really respected me as a student. My other letter writers consisted of senior honors professors and the associate dean of the honors college.

          My letter writers consisted of 5 strong writers that I rotated through to make sure that no one writer could destroy my chances at all programs. Believe it or not, the first year through one of my advisers had tremendous personal difficulties and her letters were less than stellar. She was not invited to write for me again. By limiting specific advisers to specific programs I could identify weak letter writers who wrote blind recommendation letters.

          If it were me, I would hitch my cart to another horse unless he can apologize and be SURE, and I mean absolutely SURE that this person will write him an astounding letter. A bad LOR will end your chances quicker than ANYTHING ELSE.

          Mark
          Thank you. He says that his mentor is known for writing astounding letters, but is it worth the risk?

          He doesn't have many other people who can write LORs.
           
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