During the graduate school application process, I contacted a potential supervisor. He initially accepted me, but he requested specifically a recommendation letter from my previous research internship, because I done this internship abroad and was only almost a month. I requested a recommendation letter from my internship mentor and he wrote it. Unfortunately, he wrote a weak and short recommendation letter as he only knew me for a short period.

Should I forward this weak recommendation letter to my potential supervisor or how should I deal with such a situation?


2 Answers 2


There is probably little you can do other than to explain if and when necessary that the supervisor only knew you for a short while so can't predict much about the future.

You could try to get a stronger letter, but I doubt that would be successful. It is worth a try if your relationship is good. It might be enough if the letter actually states that they only knew you for a short period.

You might be ok as long as the letter isn't negative. The letter might not help, but it might not be too much of an issue if your application overall is strong.

I'd guess you have to wait and see what develops and deal with it when necessary. And, yes, you probably have to forward that letter or a subsequent one since it has been asked for.


Sharing a weak reference letter is better than sharing none as long as the letter is from a reputed source. Personally, I have been in a situation where I had to request for a letter from a course (in which I performed good) instructor since I was short of one. They were very upfront about it and did mention right away that the letter would be weak since they knew me only as a student and not a researcher. However, since the person was very reputed in his field that letter even if weak would have been helpful for my application.

That being said, from what I can assume if you already have the letter and know it's contents then there is very little impact that it's going to make. An unseen recommendation letter is given much more weight than a open recommendation letter in graduate applications.

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