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jash0624

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I've worked at a lab for over a year and last semester I told them that I couldn't commit as much time but that I would be in periodically and help with any lit or writing they needed. They all agreed. My post-doc just emailed me saying they want me back this semester and I would need to put in 12 hours a week. I said fine, but as my class schedule was already established, I would work around it. He said he needed "one, preferably two" 6 hour blocks a week and that "it would be good for my rec. if i say yes". So I responded that I could definitely work 6 hours on Friday when I have no classes and if, a certain week, he needed two, I could skip classes to make it work. He sent me an email just now saying "I'm afraid I need two 6 hour blocks of commitment." I'm at a loss and I don't know what to do. It looks bad not to have a rec from (1) the only research I've done and (2) somewhere i've worked for a year. I feel like he's using the rec. to make me his slave, which was fine, but this time when I really, truly cannot comply, I feel like I'm screwed.
 

bbabul01

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He sent me an email just now saying "I'm afraid I need two 6 hour blocks of commitment." I'm at a loss and I don't know what to do. It looks bad not to have a rec from (1) the only research I've done and (2) somewhere i've worked for a year. I feel like he's using the rec. to make me his slave, which was fine, but this time when I really, truly cannot comply, I feel like I'm screwed.

That's a tough one, I feel for you on that one. I hate when people attempt to dangle LORs over your head.

You need to be honest and up front with him. Tell him school is #1 priority but you really enjoy working with him and will give him the time you can. That means Fridays and nothing else (or whatever the time is). Don't let him try to bribe you into doing something you can't commit to.

By the time it comes around to actually ask for a rec, he'll probably forget that you couldn't work what he wanted you to two months ago, and he'll get over it. Provided you do a good job when you are there.
 

OncoCaP

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I've worked at a lab for over a year and last semester I told them that I couldn't commit as much time but that I would be in periodically and help with any lit or writing they needed. They all agreed. My post-doc just emailed me saying they want me back this semester and I would need to put in 12 hours a week. I said fine, but as my class schedule was already established, I would work around it. He said he needed "one, preferably two" 6 hour blocks a week and that "it would be good for my rec. if i say yes". So I responded that I could definitely work 6 hours on Friday when I have no classes and if, a certain week, he needed two, I could skip classes to make it work. He sent me an email just now saying "I'm afraid I need two 6 hour blocks of commitment." I'm at a loss and I don't know what to do. It looks bad not to have a rec from (1) the only research I've done and (2) somewhere i've worked for a year. I feel like he's using the rec. to make me his slave, which was fine, but this time when I really, truly cannot comply, I feel like I'm screwed.

I would suggest talking to your post-doc in person. Since this in non-trivial, e-mail is not the best way to handle it. Set up an in-person time to meet and explain your situation to the post-doc again, see what s/he says. Try to understand where the two six-hour blocks are coming from. Maybe it's a matter of being productive or long experiments. Try to understand the reasons behind it and if there can be a plan worked out to meet the underlying needs. If you can't work it out, then you can't work it out. Find a different lab and get your rec from someone else.
 
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jash0624

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Oct 14, 2006
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That's a tough one, I feel for you on that one. I hate when people attempt to dangle LORs over your head.

You need to be honest and up front with him. Tell him school is #1 priority but you really enjoy working with him and will give him the time you can. That means Fridays and nothing else (or whatever the time is). Don't let him try to bribe you into doing something you can't commit to.

By the time it comes around to actually ask for a rec, he'll probably forget that you couldn't work what he wanted you to two months ago, and he'll get over it. Provided you do a good job when you are there.

I don't think he's even going to hire me back if I can't work two 6 hour blocks. The lab is very well known in the university, and there is a line of people waiting to take my place. That's why I sacrifice so much to work here (including commuting 2 hours a day to work 40+ hours a week in summer WHILE taking summer classes).
 

jash0624

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I would suggest talking to your post-doc in person. Since this in non-trivial, e-mail is not the best way to handle it. Set up an in-person time to meet and explain your situation to the post-doc again, see what s/he says. Try to understand where the two six-hour blocks are coming from. Maybe it's a matter of being productive or long experiments. Try to understand the reasons behind it and if there can be a plan worked out to meet the underlying needs. If you can't work it out, then you can't work it out. Find a different lab and get your rec from someone else.

Of course, I understand why he needs that time. The job requires trips to museums. But I've done a year of really good work and I think I deserve a rec for that. I'm doing all I can.
 

bbabul01

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Wow. That's some time.

I agree with the other poster. Talk to him in person. Don't let him push you around. Your time is just as valuable as his. Just because he's a big wig lab doesn't mean he doesn't need pee-ons like us to do his scut. And if you're working for him 40+ hours a week he knows you're committed.

Go to him with options. If you really can skip the class, do it. If you can't, don't. Come up with as many different scenarios as you can do and then match those to what he needs. If in the end it doesn't work out, find something else to do with your time, and get him to write a rec letter for the time you put in. It's a professional thing for him to do.
 

enviromed21

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I've worked at a lab for over a year and last semester I told them that I couldn't commit as much time but that I would be in periodically and help with any lit or writing they needed. They all agreed. My post-doc just emailed me saying they want me back this semester and I would need to put in 12 hours a week. I said fine, but as my class schedule was already established, I would work around it. He said he needed "one, preferably two" 6 hour blocks a week and that "it would be good for my rec. if i say yes". So I responded that I could definitely work 6 hours on Friday when I have no classes and if, a certain week, he needed two, I could skip classes to make it work. He sent me an email just now saying "I'm afraid I need two 6 hour blocks of commitment." I'm at a loss and I don't know what to do. It looks bad not to have a rec from (1) the only research I've done and (2) somewhere i've worked for a year. I feel like he's using the rec. to make me his slave, which was fine, but this time when I really, truly cannot comply, I feel like I'm screwed.
I definitely understand as I am in a similar predicament. I am doing 10 hours of research a week while working parttime and taking 19 hours this semester. It's hard. I talked to my research advisor and let her know what was on my plate so she understands where I am coming from. That is the best advice I can give you. Talk to your research advisor but do so in a way showing that you really do care about the research and are not simply putting it on the back burner(or the convo could take a turn for the worst). It worked for me, it may work for you. Good luck !!:)
 

enviromed21

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I definitely understand as I am in a similar predicament. I am doing 10 hours of research a week while working parttime and taking 19 hours this semester. It's hard. I talked to my research advisor and let her know what was on my plate so she understands where I am coming from. That is the best advice I can give you. Talk to your research advisor but do so in a way showing that you really do care about the research and are not simply putting it on the back burner(or the convo could take a turn for the worst). It worked for me, it may work for you. Good luck !!:)

I just remembered. One way I was allowed to get some of my hours was to try and take some of the minimal tasks home. Like making graphs and data/statistical analysis. Try and see if you could and would be willing to do that.
 
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