Recommendation Letters ?

Let's assume that most people on WSO are applying to MSF/MS (MA) Economics/MBA programs. Put MBA aside, what kind of rec letters are good?

For example, a doing a 3-month internship in a no name boutique. Good work and there's a good chance the boss would write me a letter, is that helpful at all? Or should I ask for a letter from my supervisor from my two-year on campus job? (which I eventually quit, because I need more time studying --- 6 classes near the end of the quarter)


Comments (18)

Aug 30, 2017

Any letter of recommendation (that isn't bad) that can vouch for your character/work ethic.

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Aug 30, 2017

specific examples of why you're good. I used a Stanford GSB article.. probably a transcript of Derrick Bolton... as my basis for rec's.

M7 MBA, iBanking. Top MSF grad. AntiTNA. Truth is hard to hear! But... :
DickFuld: Yeah....most of these people give terrible advice.:
Aug 31, 2017

Once your recommender has agreed to write a letter for you, you should put together a page or two on things you'd like him/her to convey in her letter + examples to use. That way it's OK if they don't remember specific details (as you'll be providing them).

And assuming the 2 recommenders in the same group can talk about different aspects of you, I think it would be fine.

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Aug 31, 2017

will let you know how that turns out, I asked two guys I work for now to write my recs (both in the same firm/group)

Aug 31, 2017

I had two people from my current role write my letters - I've been here 3 years and want to stay in a similar industry so it made sense. I just made sure they focused on different aspects of my candidacy. Try to get your direct supervisor or a solid proxy for your direct supervisor if you can

Aug 31, 2017

They don't want letters from professors. Here are the breakdowns:

Harvard: 3 letters. Preferably 2 from supervisors/managers/execs at work and 1 from an extracurricular.

Stanford: 3 letters. Preferably 2 from supervisors/managers/execs at work, 1 from a peer at work

Wharton: 2 letters required, 1 optional. I would treat this like Harvard

Every other school will require 2 letters. One should come from your current boss, and the other should come from another senior person at work or someone from an extracurricular.

Bottom line: They don't want professors. They will judge your academics based on your transcript and GMAT score. They want to see how you perform in the workplace and what others have to say about you in that setting.

Aug 31, 2017

What The Committee Expects to See

Here's what the committee hopes to learn from your reference letters:

a) The validity of your claims of academic excellence, professional success and impeccable personal values
b) Your specific qualifications, including the depth of your academic and professional experiences
c) Your unique traits that aren't covered anywhere else in the application
d) Whether you can accurately evaluate others and their perceptions of you
e) Your demonstrated commitment to pursuing a business career

"Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."- Benjamin Franklin

Aug 31, 2017

I strongly disagree with your view that recs can "often" be the deciding factor in an admission. In most cases they're a wash. In the cases where they hurt the applicant, it's when the writer is lukewarm and/or fails to give enough specific examples to illustrate the applicant's strengths. If you're at a firm that normally does not send people to b-schools, it's crucial to "coach" your rec writer and tell them how to structure their letter. On the other hand, recs help when the recommenders are able to paint a vivid portrait of your leadership, innovation, teamwork, creativity, work ethic, etc., while addressing potential weaknesses.

Example. My writers showed me their recs after they submitted. One of the guys talked extensively about my ability to work with others on the trading desk despite the difficult environment and lead others towards a consensus. Since my quant/analytical skills are not in doubt, he addressed the "soft" components extensively. He also talked about me as a person, aside from my professional accomplishments by praising my character and core values.

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Aug 31, 2017

Valid points. I meant that if you have two similar profiles and one has a "great" recommendation and the other "lukewarm" then obviously they'll be the deciding factors. Though I'm sure some schools take into account the fact that the applicant essentially told the writers what to write. However, if you're getting LORs from people in the academic community, obviously it would count more to have writers who actually attended the program you're applying to (and/or that went to that specific school if it's prestigious) than someone who didn't, no? I'm just wondering if there are other criterion than having an alumni write your LOR. Thoughts?

Aug 31, 2017

Well, if all else is equal, then yes, a great letter over a lukewarm letter could make a difference. But the same can be said for pretty much every other admission criteria.

It doesn't matter if an alum writes your letter or his position. What matters is the quality. Now, if you're able to get a strong letter from a famous powerful alumni (like my friend who worked for bloomberg and heading to HBS this fall) then yeah, that will be the golden ticket. Cases like that are rare however.

Aug 31, 2017

Thanks for the input.

Aug 31, 2017

What makes a great LOR?

One that makes you sound good.


Aug 31, 2017

Thanks, Sherlock. You must be a rocket scientist.

Aug 31, 2017

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