I graduated in 2018 (in computer science) and worked in an education startup (Sept'18-Feb'19), as a co-founder of sorts, and later joined a well-known company in Mar'19 and have been working there ever since. My main role at the startup was as an educational instructor (a fact which I feel can help my candidature) and doing sales in the part-time. Will obtaining a Letter of Recommendation (LoR) from the main founder help my candidature? While I can obtain two LORs from my current workplace, I felt that my experience at that startup would help demonstrate my commitment towards making education accessible.

I have obtained an academic LOR. This is specifically focusing on whether I need to obtain another Academic LOR or no.

  • Do you have any referees that can write about your academic performance at undergrad? Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 10:37
  • I do have a kind assistant professor whos vouched with a LOR for me. Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 10:41

1 Answer 1


It is likely that your application will be reviewed by a faculty committee. It is likely that some, at least, of them will want to see some prediction of academic success in your letters. If you were applying for other industrial jobs it would be different, but I suggest that at least one of your letters come from someone who knows you well and can make a fair assessment that you will succeed in an academic setting.

A head of a startup or others in industrial positions have a different focus and their letters probably can't properly attest to your academic qualities. It is impossible to judge how much they can help you, not knowing the details, but it sounds like a risky move.

Direct your letters toward the needs of the program you want to join, not the workplace you have been in.

  • I am editing my question to add the fact that I do have an academic LOR. Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 13:38
  • 1
    The idea that only LOR from professors matter is in my opinion either not true or a major failure on the part of academics. People who are in industry 10 years before entering into graduate programs are unlikely to get good letters from people who they interacted with 10 years ago. Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 22:07
  • @FourierFlux, yes, but that isn't what I said. Nor is it the situation here.
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 22:09
  • This is odd; for a masters in CS, I would expect many of the applicants have not been students for many years and only have letters from employers or colleagues. Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 11:22
  • and yet I get told, on a regular basis, that academic LORs are very imo Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 19:03

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