I am currently doing an internship/writing my master at a research institute where I have recently applied for a PhD scholarship. In order to apply for the scholarship I had to contact a some of my former professors in order to get some recommendation letter. I contacted professor X who wrote me a nice recommendation letter.

Two days ago I received a mail from professor X to me and all my classmates which contained a job offer. The offer seems very cool, and I would love to have that job, given that I do not get the PhD-scholarship.

Since it is not sure that I will get the scholarship I want to contact professor X saying I am very interested.

My question is how to write him. He knows perfectly that I have applied for the scholarship. Should I tell him that I'm interested if I do not get the scholarship? Should I not mention my priority, i. e. PhD over working for professor X?

  • Since the application is done by mail, would it not be awkward not to mention it the scholarship at all?
    – Arne
    Jun 1, 2017 at 15:52
  • 3
    Why wouldn't you want to work at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters?
    – Draken
    Jun 1, 2017 at 16:38
  • This question is definitely on-topic here, but you might get better answers over at Academia.
    – David K
    Jun 2, 2017 at 13:54

2 Answers 2


I don't think there's any need to mention it. If a manager/supervisor holds a "grudge" against you because you've applied to multiple positions, then that's a person you probably don't want to work for. If they're interviewing multiple people for a position, why is it not fair-play to apply to multiple positions yourself?


Professor X knows about your situation, so it would be actually pointless to hide it.

On the contrary, by applying to work in his position, you are showing that you value him as a potential colleague/manager (not just as an old acquaintance who happens to be able to recommend you). So as long as you keep clear that you prefer the PhD scholarship, the fact that you applied should be a positive thing, even if you don't finally get the job.

(edit: who knows, he might even be able to offer you another scholarship, instead of this role. It wouldn't be the first time something like this happens...)

Also, remember that you are in academia - in your environment, it is quite natural to prefer a decent opportunity to start a PhD above anything else. Any professor will understand this.

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