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Teaching moment conflict with Recommendation Letter

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Joined: 06 Jul 2012
Posts: 11
Location: United States
Concentration: Strategy, Sustainability
GMAT 1: 640 Q44 V35
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Teaching moment conflict with Recommendation Letter [#permalink] New post 31 Aug 2012, 06:23
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My background: 28, 6 years in Architecture
I have a great relationship with a former employer/teacher. I worked abroad (in a village) under his company, became close with his family there that helped me through the experience, and then I worked at his office in the states when I returned for two years.

BUT

I am considering writing about the negative experiences in architecture framed as an opportunity inspiring my career change. There are many inefficiencies in the industry, and architects are poor in business often putting much of the focus on design regardless of cost. The delivery method is changing as such a large percentage of firms have closed throughout the recession. I've seen the issues at this first firm (boutique architecture/development) and at my current firm (corporate/multidisciplinary).

Any advice on how to describe these events that inspired me to go to business school while not being critical of my recommender? I don't have other direct supervisor options (2/3rds of my firm have been laid off in the past 4 years, needless to say building consistent relationships has been difficult - trying to keep it positive!). I would feel nervous not having at least one of the two letters being from a direct supervisor, and this first employer has already enthusiastically offered. I value this as a good fit since he can speak to my time abroad and to supervising my work for 2 years.

Thank you in advance for your help.
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Re: Teaching moment conflict with Recommendation Letter [#permalink] New post 18 Sep 2012, 20:26
Expert's post
Hey xaniaphl,

Thanks for reaching out to me. The one piece of information I believe that you forgot to tell me is that you are actually going to have the recommender read your essays, as well as write a recommendation. Is that your intent? I'm going to assume that it is, because how else would he know that you are disparaging the architecture industry? Remember, I'm not actually at your place of work, so it's important that you had enough detail to me to understand what is actually going on. :-)

If you're that worried about this I simply would not show your recommender your essays. The other thing to understand – in that your recommender should understand as a mature adult – is that there is a big difference between an indictment of the industry, versus an indictment of your recommender's ability or good judgment. In no way would you ever want to write about your boss being an idiot – even if he was. If he's not an idiot, then you won't write about it in your essays, and he won't get pissed off if he reads your essays – again – if he reads your essays.
There is no reason to really show him your essays. Just say they are not done yet. Then repeat that X number of times.

But you really have to take a step back here. You have to understand that your predicament – which is not really a big deal – is the (supposed) challenge that any business school applicant would be confronted with. With your logic, pretty much all of the business school applicants would end up giving themselves enough rope to hang themselves with. This is simply not the case. Essays are not an indictment of any one person or even industry for that matter. Whatever the essay is, it should be focused on you – your goals, your accomplishments, your leadership, your failures. If you are writing about your recommender in these essays, then you have to ask yourself who is the person applying to business school.

I know you told me you are going to read about your negative experiences and I really hope that I answered your question. However, without any more insight into what the actual story would be, and if it is even necessary, the above is the best advice I can give to you.

Respectfully,
Paul Lanzillotti

xaniaphl wrote:
My background: 28, 6 years in Architecture
I have a great relationship with a former employer/teacher. I worked abroad (in a village) under his company, became close with his family there that helped me through the experience, and then I worked at his office in the states when I returned for two years.

BUT

I am considering writing about the negative experiences in architecture framed as an opportunity inspiring my career change. There are many inefficiencies in the industry, and architects are poor in business often putting much of the focus on design regardless of cost. The delivery method is changing as such a large percentage of firms have closed throughout the recession. I've seen the issues at this first firm (boutique architecture/development) and at my current firm (corporate/multidisciplinary).

Any advice on how to describe these events that inspired me to go to business school while not being critical of my recommender? I don't have other direct supervisor options (2/3rds of my firm have been laid off in the past 4 years, needless to say building consistent relationships has been difficult - trying to keep it positive!). I would feel nervous not having at least one of the two letters being from a direct supervisor, and this first employer has already enthusiastically offered. I value this as a good fit since he can speak to my time abroad and to supervising my work for 2 years.

Thank you in advance for your help.

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