Question on professional LORs for an Intel Community worker

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
dmg39
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Question on professional LORs for an Intel Community worker

Postby dmg39 » Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:48 pm

Thought I'd solicit advice on my professional letter of recommendation.

For the past 7 years, I've been working in various capacities for the U.S. intelligence community. I have many candidates in mind for writing the professional letter of recommendation; however, many of these people worked under some sort of cover identity. Further, even those colleagues whose employment was public information are still generally discouraged from openly broadcasting their association with the intel community (as in writing a letter that will be sent around to strangers on law school admissions committees of various schools around the country). On top of that, while the recommender will be able to speak generally about me, he/she won't be able to go into any work-related specifics, as those will all be classified.

So with that, a couple of questions:
If I am able to persuade one of my IC colleagues to write for me, how much would it hurt the recommendation if the recommender declines to put forward his/her actual contact information, (with the absence of such information indicated in the letter).

Would I be better off getting a professional recommendation from someone able to openly identify themselves, but whose knowledge of my work is much less specific - and thus would be able to only offer generalities about me?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts. My first post here, but just from browsing I'm blown away by the info people are offering.

- DMG

Ti Malice
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Re: Question on professional LORs for an Intel Community worker

Postby Ti Malice » Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:06 pm

I have no answers for your predicament. Maybe try calling a couple of admissions officers and getting their take. I'd be surprised if schools would accept (or give any weight to) a letter from an unidentified source. I'm not even sure it would be possible to submit such a letter to the LSAC and have them process it.

But you should be aware that, to the extent that they care at all, adcomms strongly prefer LORs from professors who have evaluated your academic work over employment-related LORs. If you can get a good letter from a supervisor, then submit it as a third letter. If you could only manage to get a letter filled with typical, boring generalities from someone not intimately familiar with your work, then don't bother. A professional recommendation is not necessary to having an outstanding application.

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twenty
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Re: Question on professional LORs for an Intel Community worker

Postby twenty » Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:30 pm

I would imagine a recommender could say something to the effect of "he/she is one of the best employees I've had the opportunity to work with over the last ten years" without saying too much.

I would also imagine signing something with just a first name/fake name wouldn't be that terrible, either.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Question on professional LORs for an Intel Community worker

Postby rinkrat19 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:06 pm

Is there any way an anonymous letter could be filtered through, uh, headquarters (for lack of a better word)? So Anonymous Field Agent writes a letter without identifying himself, and then sends it back home to someone in the command structure who isn't anonymous and who could say "I'm Station Chief Bob Jones, and the writer of this letter is not allowed to divulge his/her identity for his/her own safety and national security concerns but has worked with [applicant] extensively and is in a position to evaluate his work skills and temperament."

dmg39
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Re: Question on professional LORs for an Intel Community worker

Postby dmg39 » Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:19 am

rinkrat19 wrote:Is there any way an anonymous letter could be filtered through, uh, headquarters (for lack of a better word)? So Anonymous Field Agent writes a letter without identifying himself, and then sends it back home to someone in the command structure who isn't anonymous and who could say "I'm Station Chief Bob Jones, and the writer of this letter is not allowed to divulge his/her identity for his/her own safety and national security concerns but has worked with [applicant] extensively and is in a position to evaluate his work skills and temperament."


Any letter would have to go through a review board. Anything published by any IC worker that touches on their work has to be cleared - books, resumes, etc. Any edits the review board make are pretty much binding - so if the review board redacts the LOR writer's name/position/contact info, then whatever they substitute in place is what's going in the letter.

But it might be a damn good idea to get someone senior to vouch for the letter writer's position. That sort of endorsement would seem to answer anyone's questions on the letter authorship without impeaching on any sensitive territory. Thanks for it.

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Ling520
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Re: Question on professional LORs for an Intel Community worker

Postby Ling520 » Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:28 pm

dmg39 wrote:So with that, a couple of questions:
If I am able to persuade one of my IC colleagues to write for me, how much would it hurt the recommendation if the recommender declines to put forward his/her actual contact information, (with the absence of such information indicated in the letter).


I have a background in intel and all this sounds pretty hokey to me. You're wondering if you can get away with sending a school a LOR that says, "Bob's a hero-genius" signed Anonymous CIA Spy. No; they'll think you're full of shit and probably rightly so.

People move between the intel community and the private sector, higher-ed, academia, and other government positions all the time. Writing professional and academic recommendations, letters of appreciation, award citations, and providing professional references, etc. is absolutely routine. If you truly are working for a government agency, talk to you personnel office--not some internet forum--and they'll set you straight.

More importantly, as schools emphasize, they want academic LORs. Your work experience is already on your resume. Short of getting a LOR from Eric Holder, the opinion of your boss or co-worker isn't useful. What the schools want to see is how your professors rate your intellectual and academic abilities.

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TheSpanishMain
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Re: Question on professional LORs for an Intel Community worker

Postby TheSpanishMain » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:56 am

Ling520 wrote:
dmg39 wrote:So with that, a couple of questions:
If I am able to persuade one of my IC colleagues to write for me, how much would it hurt the recommendation if the recommender declines to put forward his/her actual contact information, (with the absence of such information indicated in the letter).


I have a background in intel and all this sounds pretty hokey to me. You're wondering if you can get away with sending a school a LOR that says, "Bob's a hero-genius" signed Anonymous CIA Spy. No; they'll think you're full of shit and probably rightly so.

People move between the intel community and the private sector, higher-ed, academia, and other government positions all the time. Writing professional and academic recommendations, letters of appreciation, award citations, and providing professional references, etc. is absolutely routine. If you truly are working for a government agency, talk to you personnel office--not some internet forum--and they'll set you straight.

More importantly, as schools emphasize, they want academic LORs. Your work experience is already on your resume. Short of getting a LOR from Eric Holder, the opinion of your boss or co-worker isn't useful. What the schools want to see is how your professors rate your intellectual and academic abilities.



This also strikes me as a little...off. Suffice to say, there are plenty of ways around this, and you're better off talking to your personnel office, not an internet forum. You're not the first IC employee to apply to law school/graduate school/whatever.

On the last point, though, a lot of IC type work, particularly analysis, is pretty applicable and translates well to academia. You're essentially gathering disparate information, researching it, and crafting it into a concise, coherent product for a consumer. Pretty applicable to law school, I would think. You'd want to have the LOR writer emphasize these aspects of the job, though, so the reader doesn't just picture some kind of silly OMG BLACK OPZ fantasy.




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