I was looking for a TA position and mailed prof A, who is an alumni of my college, for a TA. He replied saying that he would not be taking any courses this year so will not require a TA. Can I ask him to recommend me to any other prof, who will need a TA?

  • It is like a friendly advice. If your friend says, rent pizza from the service X, it will likely significantly increase its chance by you. But actually nothing obligates you to follow his advice. You do this, because you trust your friend, and don't believe that he would suggest it to you if they deliver crap. But it is possible, that you don't like to rent pizza et al, you are not hungry, or you find the offer of the service X bad looking.
    – peterh
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


Can you do it? Most certainly. Should you do it/is it likely to succeed? That depends on a couple of factors:

  • Do you know prof A? Does he/she know you? A random email from somebody along the lines of 'Hey, you graduated from my college, please give me a TA position.' will almost always be met with a negative response.
  • Have you done some kind of work for prof A in the past? If he/she supervised you at your college for some time, yes, you can ask for a recommendation. If not, again, your cchances of a positive response are slim

Those two points may sound similar, but there is a difference with respect to why you might get a negative response: In the first case, it may be the wording of the email, it may be that there is no TA position at the moment. It is mainly to be seen as a general inquiry for a TA position, that you know that professor is only a slight bonus.

In the second case it is a bit different. You will ONLY get a positive response if that professor has supervised you in the past and is satisfied with the work you have done. After all, a letter of recommendation is basically 'This student is good, I have seen it first hand, if you hire him he will do good work for you.' If prof A doesn't know you, he/she will not recommend you because that is putting his/her name at risk.

With these points in mind and the questions I have linked as a comment to your question, you should be able to figure out if that second email is likely to get a positive response.

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