Sending an intro email
Background reading on consulting and TFA
Requesting a letter of recommendation

Sending an intro email

Some of the best leads for research, internships and jobs come from people you don't have any links to. When you're emailing someone you don't know, keep it brief and keep your ask minimal. Everyone has way too much email to respond to - a long message with multiple requests will be relegated to the "later" pile.

1. Make sure your heading is focused - "Request to come visit your program"
2. Aim to make your request in the 1st paragraph.
3. Have no more than 2 paragraphs in the first email. Keep it brief!

Here's a version of one that I sent to a distinguished senior Professor when I was a graduate student. The request got me included in a small conference that was an ideal space to meet other colleagues. One of them became a dissertation Advisor!

Dear Professor X,

Greetings! I am a sociology graduate student at Yale University planning a dissertation working on middle class parents choosing urban/racially integrated schools.

Professor Y at Northwestern mentioned your conference at the ESS last year, and I’m so sorry to have arrived to the topic too
late to have attended. I was particularly interested in your presentation on “Non-Decision Decisions” Unpacking the Process Whereby
Parents Decide Where to Live" and was wondering if you have submitted it anywhere, and whether there is a version you might be ready to
share. I'm currently writing up my dissertation lit review and prospectus.

Also, do you have a group mailing list? I would love to be in the loop for future events.
best wishes, Mira

Background reading on consulting and TFA
Read Amy Binder’s sociological explanation of why management consulting jobs are perceived as desirable on Ivy League campuses, despite the fact that few students knew about the work before coming to college, and the work itself is not particularly stimulating.

Are you considering Teach for America? Read excerpts from Teach for America Counter-Narratives (2016) to consider critiques from TFA alumni.

Requesting a letter of recommendation

Here are some general etiquette guidelines for requesting a letter of recommendation. A good rule of thumb is to ask a professor at least one month in advance by making an appointment in office hours. A good way to ask for a letter is: "Do you think you could write a positive letter of recommendation for me to do X?"

At a minimum, you should have outstanding performance and participation in the Professor's class. You should also have demonstrated professional behavior including exemplary attendance with no tardies. These behaviors seem basic, but they are foundational for a strong letter of recommendation, particularly for teaching positions!

Also consider whether the professor can say anything about you beyond your performance in a class, which generally results in a bland letter. (It’s always a great idea to invite professors to activities you are involved in, so that they can speak to these other parts of your time on campus.)

Requesting a letter from Mira Debs
After making a request, please 1) email a copy of your application materials 2) set up an account via Interfolio. The basic dossier service is free. 3) Place a recommendation request via interfolio. This helps me keep track of deadlines and simplifies the login-systems I need to interface with.

Once I have uploaded your letter, you pay a small fee to get it delivered to your destination.

Once you have applied for the position/school/scholarship, please keep your recommenders updated! Professors write recommendation letters in their spare time. Thank you notes are always appreciated.