Don’t underestimate the importance
of reference letters and be picky about who you ask to prepare
one on your behalf. Those letters are extremely important
because the referee needs to tell us something more than that this student
has an excellent academic record. We can see that looking at the transcript.
It needs to tell us something about what are their, their potential,
either if they’re early stage or if they’re further along. It needs
to really describe what are their accomplishments in research.
When they talk about communications, it’s not sufficient to say well the
student has given several oral talks or has presented several posters.
We need to know more about what the student has done. Reference letters are very important.
This may be the most difficult aspect for applicants. What we’re looking for
in the reference letters is not so much that people say the applicant is the best,
most outstanding or smartest student. What we’re looking for are facts
that support these assertions. It really is okay for the student
to sit down with the professor and talk about how important
the letter is and if, and give that professor information
about themselves, talk with the professor, come to know
the professor more before they have to write the letter,
coach them through what needs to be done for
the letter. That’s really okay. It’s also really helpful to see
in the letters information about the applicant that we might
not get from any of the other materials we have. So particularly
about leadership and communication. So one of the things that, one of the,
one of the really important qualities that we’re looking for in successful
applicants are those who are contributing actively to writing,
learning how to write, presenting, learning how to
present better. And so if those qualities can come across
in the letters, that’s, that’s a particularly good source of that information. Applicants for postdoctoral fellowships
must justify their choice of where they would like to hold their award.
This requirement does not apply to applicants for postgraduate scholarships. Well they need to really make the
case as to why they would like to go to the particular place.
And then it’s also very helpful if they’ve indicated they’ve been
communicating with the individual. So contact with the supervisor
showing that they’re really thought this through and that they
also ideally would have some indication they’ve been accepted
by that group or will be accepted by the group that they want to join.
Just to say they want to go somewhere because perhaps it’s
a famous place or nice place to live, that’s not sufficient. They really have
to show what is the motivation. Regarding the justification of
your choice of location for your post-doctoral fellowship,
I think it’s important that it be described properly, and that the
application not simply describe, as many do, the facilities around
you: the laboratory contains a certain type of equipment and
this is what will guide my choice. I think it’s important to begin by
explaining why you have selected this project, how it will complement
your education. Why have you selected this particular supervisor?
Are you familiar with your supervisor’s bibliography and