I was fortunate to land a great TT position this year after three looooooong years on the market. I'm now wondering how to properly thank my letter-writers for all they have done for me throughout this crazy job-search process. I'm mindful of how much time they've put into not just letter-writing and -submitting, but also giving me advice and pep talks along the way, talking to colleagues on my behalf, etc., all while maintaining an incredibly supportive attitude towards my choices of where to apply, where not to apply, and why. Of course, I will express these sentiments in a nice card or something, but I wonder what others have done beyond a formal "thank you" card to thank letter-writers and/or mentors. Any ideas?
Date: 14 Feb 2014 19:15
Number of posts: 12
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Congrats! Hope to be in a similar position soon! Your getting a position reflects very well on them, and assuming you haven't engaged in any kind of intellectual rebellion against them, carrying on aspects of their research and thinking is an incredible thank you, I'd guess.
This is a great question, anonymous (#1). I'm wondering the same thing!
I was quite poor at the time, so my gift was small, but I got each of my letter writers a funny/clever mug that reflected our relationship. They seemed to appreciate it, and whether they use it or not it's something that might sit around the office and remind them of me occasionally, for better or worse. :)
I sent an email to tell them I got the job and thanks.
As someone who is o. the other side now, I truely think that's enough. The best feeling you get is when someone you helped along gets where they wanted to go.
For two of my letter writers (who also helped me a lot with publications), I got them each a hand-written thank-you card and a recently published book relevant to their interests. I spent up to $60-ish for each book, but again I really wanted to thank these people. For my third letter writer, I was unsure but know he loves coffee. So, I got him a $25 Starbucks gift card.
After I got a job a couple of years ago, I sent each of my letter writers a nice ($35-$45 range) bottle of wine with a note. They all seemed to appreciate it. That said, I think that in this crazy market, senior faculty are genuinely rewarded by seeing their junior mentees find success.
I have written many many letters and have rarely if ever received anything but an email or a very genuine personal thank you. And that is fine with me! It is actually totally true that having young scholars you support and believe in get a job is plenty gratifying. When you go on to be successful, everything you do is a feather in those letter writers' caps. They were right about you all along. Small remembrances are nice, but even nicer: PAY IT FORWARD. Remember these acts of professional kindness and do your best in the future to support young scholars.
I am in both positions of being on the job market and asking for letters and then writing letters for students that I have mentored. From the referee point of view, I have received email thank yous and a few small gifts. My reaction to receiving the gifts was that it was completely unnecessary. I appreciate students wanted to express gratitude, but in my mind, I would rather they use that money for application fees! I think some small token or a sincere email is fine. Partially, it depends on the mentoring relationship; I have been closer to a mentor, I send them small gifts as well as the sincere thank you emails.