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pagulbacha27

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Hi everyone!!
I've been working in a lab for about 1.5 years and recently was reassigned to work with a post doc. She's really nice, but when I screw up she's not very understanding and doesn't really supervise me. I've gotten a lot better. Recently though, I made a really huge mistake and she says she's forgiven me, but I don't really think she has. She even hinted that she might have stopped working with me after the incident.

I've been in the lab for a while now, and was really hoping to get a good LOR from my PI (who, I'm guessing, would have my postdoc write it under his name) - I'm just worried she won't write good things. She's been ignoring me all week. I find other things to do in lab and help other people, but I really just don't want to think I've screwed up. And I want to get back to real work again. I have 4 weeks left in the summer for her to like me again. Please advise. Thanks!!
 

TaupePremed

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How well do you know the PI? Do you speak with him openly and frankly?

If the postdoc has been literally ignoring you, I think you don't want her to touch your letter.

The PI might write your letter himself, do you know what he has done for other applicants from the lab? Writing these letters is not actually that hard. We may spend like a hundred hours on our personal statements, but tenured faculty with medium-big labs write these letters all the time and likely spend an hour or less. Maybe only 20 minutes if they have electronic letterhead and a secretary.

My advice is to figure out who is actually writing the letter, make sure it is not the postdoc who is ignoring you, try to push for the PI himself, and if not push for another person in the lab who you worked for at a different time, because it sounds like there are lots of postdocs.

If you don't speak openly with the PI on a regular basis, then maybe you can start by approaching one of the other postdocs with whom you have worked. Say, "hey, I hear the PI likes to have postdocs ghost-write letters for him, would you be willing to ghost-write a good letter for me?" Once they say yes, the two of you can go to the PI and be like "this postdoc would like to help you write a letter for me, how does that sound?" No mention of the postdoc you are avoiding, just a very positive spin. You and the postdoc show up together and propose the letter plan. Boom, done.
 

TaupePremed

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My basic advice is this: You sound a little terrified of the PI for no reason, but you should not be afraid of the PI. Start a conversation about your med school aspirations and who you think could write a good letter, whether that is the PI or a specific postdoc of your choosing who is not your current supervisor.
 

May real name is...

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What are you messing up on? You need to focus on fixing that right now. It's one step at a time buddy.
 

piii

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Welcome to the real world. What happens when a colleague or a supervisor doesn't like you when you're a resident and you screw up?

1) be professional, always.

2) fix your mistakes. Learn what you are doing wrong and how to prevent it. Show this to your post doc and PI.

3) have a conversation with your PI. You're an adult now. Explain yourself, ask for help, ask for advice. Be proactive.

4) realize sometimes things don't work out. Give your best, be earnest. But if this becomes a problem that you can't solve, accept it and move on.
 

JustAPhD

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You're an adult, time to have an adult conversation with the postdoc. Postdocs want to get their work published asap and move on with their lives; it's easy to see why she was upset with you screwing up. Seriously, man up and go have a frank conversation with her. Own your mistake, understand you shouldn't do it again, and ask her if you can start contributing again. Four weeks is a fair amount of time to show her you're more than just that undergrad who screws up people's research.

As an aside, out of curiously what was the mistake you made?
 
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thatwouldbeanarchy

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I agree with others here that you should try your best to rectify things with the postdoc in the time you have left. Whenever asking for an LOR, it's always best to be direct and ask if the person feels comfortable writing you a positive recommendation. I think you should be up front with both the postdoc and the PI, admit that you've made some mistakes, but also remind them of what you've done right. Ideally, they'll be honest with you if they don't feel they can write you a good letter.

Personally, I would at least keep my options open in terms of looking elsewhere for an LOR. The unfortunate reality *may* be that this postdoc has already formed a negative opinion of you. She may have even communicated this to the PI. And if that's the case, you don't want to risk getting a lousy LOR. Use your best judgment. Try to fix things but if it doesn't seem like it's working, look elsewhere.
 

Doctor-S

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Hi everyone!!
I've been working in a lab for about 1.5 years and recently was reassigned to work with a post doc. She's really nice, but when I screw up she's not very understanding and doesn't really supervise me. I've gotten a lot better. Recently though, I made a really huge mistake and she says she's forgiven me, but I don't really think she has. She even hinted that she might have stopped working with me after the incident.

I've been in the lab for a while now, and was really hoping to get a good LOR from my PI (who, I'm guessing, would have my postdoc write it under his name) - I'm just worried she won't write good things. She's been ignoring me all week. I find other things to do in lab and help other people, but I really just don't want to think I've screwed up. And I want to get back to real work again. I have 4 weeks left in the summer for her to like me again. Please advise. Thanks!!

As suggested by @TaupePremed and @piii (because they specifically referred to the PI and not the postdoc), it's your responsibility to converse with the PI because this is a matter (i.e., writing a LOR) that applies to YOUR life.

In your post, you're assuming the postdoc will write the LOR. That might not be an accurate assumption.

If the PI is signing his name to the LOR, he might be the one who writes them. Or, he might not be willing to sign any LORs. Be thoughtful, prepared and professional ... and don't shrink away from speaking with the PI because med school is filled with a boatload of very friendly (and very disagreeable) authority figures. If the PI is not willing to prepare a letter for you - for any reason whatsoever - mitigate your losses, and find someone else.

By the way, if you made a "really huge mistake" (as you specifically indicated in your post), and the postdoc hinted that she might have stopped working with you after that incident, it should come as no surprise that the postdoc is less than eager to praise your merits at this time. Just saying ... and I think you already know that, eh? In some labs, a "really huge mistake" can quickly lead to a lack of trust and confidence; as well as dismissal of staff, losses of funding and really poor evals. I'm NOT saying you committed a catastrophic mistake because I have no idea *how* you are defining a "really huge mistake." But, it doesn't sound good to me, and I've never even met you. For obvious reasons, most PIs are often fiercely protective of the integrity of their labs, including the quality of the lab's work. It's your choice ... talk with the PI, or find another letter writer.

Thank you and I hope things work out well for you.
 

WRL

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Make sure when it comes to asking for the letter of recommendation that you hope to get a positive letter and if this is not possible, that you would be seeking letters from other people
 
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