1) Is that a long enough time period to be able to get a good reference letter from my current manager?
Depends. Did you establish a good relationship with him during this time? I only knew my manager for a few months when I asked him to write my recommendations and it turned out OK, however I made sure that he and I interacted very frequently prior to that so he had content to write about.
2) Since I'll be applying 1 full year before I actually start school, will it be awkward since I'm essentially telling my manager that "I'll be leaving the company a year from now, please write me a recommendation letter." - or what's the best way to go about doing this? I was thinking of applying in Round 2 instead to shrink that time gap a little bit, but I've heard that Round 1 is ideal.
It's ok, your manager will understand.
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