Saturday, February 07, 2009

To Whom It May Concern

There are many reasons why a postgraduate student or an early career researcher might feel utterly crushed by her experience in academe, but recently I was asked to write a letter of support to be included in an application for promotion for someone I have worked for over the past couple of years, both as a tutor and a research assistant. It gave me the opportunity to reflect, in a concentrated way, on what I hope won't be a rare collegial experience, or prove the exception to the rule. Here's the letter I wrote:

To Whom It May Concern:

I have had the privilege of working with _____________ in the _______ discipline within the ____________________ Faculty at ___ over the past two years. During this time I have been employed by ____ first as a marker and then as a tutor. With ____’s support I have also had the opportunity to deliver a lecture. In 2008 I worked as his teaching assistant which involved a range of administrative activities, including communicating with students on his behalf.

Throughout my association with ____ he has provided a great deal of professional support and encouragement. On a day to day level, he has always provided a range of materials, such as clear marking criteria and suggestions for tutorial activities, that have equipped me to do the task at hand. He has also made proper arrangements for marking moderation meetings and any other additional activities that have been required.

There are many aspects of working with ____ that I have appreciated over the past two years. In addition to his talent for organisation, he has always demonstrated good humour and conveyed respect for my contribution to his courses. Further, he has provided compassionate and useful advice for my development as a teacher, as well as offering specific opportunities to increase my skills.

I have learned a lot from ____, simply by observing him work. To this extent, as a PhD student looking to pursue an academic career, I consider that he has provided me with invaluable mentoring for my chosen vocation.

Yours sincerely,

Kirsty ________ (M. Phil)

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