So I am in a relatively awkward spot. 2 months and a half ago I joined a company.

However I only did so because I did not get accepted to grad school, which is my n1 priority in life.

The period to apply to grad school starts again and I need recommendation letters. It is usually good that if you are in industry, one such letter comes from your manager.

And so I would need to ask this new manager, whose team I literally just joined "hey, I may be leaving in one year, wanna write me a letter that will increase the probability that I leave your team?"

I am worried about the multiple conflict of interests, first there's the fact that from a pure game theory perspective, it's better for my manager if I don't get accepted, as that will ensure I stay in the company. There's also the worry that even if he does write me the best letter he can, this could sour the professional relationship as I recently joined and almost immediately after, I am thinking of leaving.

I am unsure as to how to navigate this landscape.

  • What's more important for you, keeping the job or going to grad school?
    – Aida Paul
    Sep 17, 2020 at 22:57
  • @TymoteuszPaul Goin to grad school.
    – Makogan
    Sep 17, 2020 at 23:13
  • @JoeStrazzere I would then need to ask my prior manager, which I no longer work for. I am not sure if that is a better bet.
    – Makogan
    Sep 17, 2020 at 23:14

2 Answers 2


I am unsure as to how to navigate this landscape.

Last time you attempted to enter grad school you surely included a recommendation letter, and at that time you weren't at this company.

Do that. Obtain letters from other sources as you did before.

As stated in comments, you've been here for less than 3 months, so any recommendation letter you obtain from your current manager will not have much weight or strength for your application; it's best if you obtain one from someone that knows you better and for a longer time (your previous manager for example).


Were you honest with your manager when you took the job that it was purely a placeholder for grad school? If not, then no, I would not ask the manager for a recommendation because your resignation within 90 days will probably be viewed negatively. Hiring people is one of the worst parts of management and few people want to hire someone, go through the expenses of onboarding and initial training only for them to quit. I was a former engineering manager and would not be inclined to say positive things about a person in this situation.

If you were honest then it is a tossup. I don't think the manager should have any negative feelings about you leaving since they understood your situation but what have you done in in only 2.5 months for them to be able to write a positive recommendation?

I would suggest NOT asking your manager for a recommendation but would go back to prior managers, colleagues, professors, etc. that are more familiar with you and your work.

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