graduating soon, questions on work references

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Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

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Joined: 25 Nov 2006
Gender: Male
Posts: 70
Location: USA

21 Feb 2011, 10:10 pm

So I'm graduating w/ my Master's in a few months and need ~3 references. I used to have 3 really really good references before but this was when I was job searching 5+ years ago and these references are either too old or w/ the case of one of my former bosses, I no longer even have her current contact info.

I can ask the 2 faculty members I've worked w/ for my thesis - I know they will give me positive references, but would it be a problem that they would basically be identical references? i.e. because I did the same work w/ both of them.

I can also ask my advisor, though I don't know if she would work, because I haven't actually worked with her much even though she's my advisor. I've taken one of her classes and she's looked over my thesis and only had good things to say about it. She also heads a group whose web site I've been working on, though I rarely actually am in contact with her regarding the site.

Pileated woodpecker
Pileated woodpecker

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Joined: 25 Dec 2010
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21 Feb 2011, 10:38 pm

I have been advised that you can never have too many referee's. I currently have five. Only two are really current, ie where I am doing voluntary work (the CEO and my direct supervisor). The others I have are a lecturer from 2 years ago, a work supervisor from 5 years ago and a voluntary work supervisor from 3 years ago.

If you have former work as opposed to just academic then I think that is good, as they tend to have seen you in different types of environments. I don't think that 5 years would really be that old. If anything it shows that you have maintained relationships, and that they still think highly of you, because they still remember will and are still willing to talk about you. Most people you had contact with 5 years ago, you would not know, so the fact that you have maintained a relationship shows that supervisors did respect you enough to keep in touch with you, even if not as close friends and if they are still willing to talk for you then that shows that you left a positive impression on them, if that makes sense.

If you were leaving a job you had been in for a while, you would only have a former boss and a current boss, and it is not expected that current ones even be listed as it is respected that you will often not let them know that you are job hunting. Most peoples referrees are not that current, if they were it in itself would not look good because it looks like you can't stay in the same place for long periods of time.