Time To Go Write A Ground-Breaking Essay About Burning Bridges

, , , , , , | Learning | January 22, 2018

(I am a teaching assistant for a freshman core American History course that everyone has to take, regardless of major. For the most part, the teaching assistants actually teach the courses with professors overseeing us. A freshman in my course thinks that he is smarter than everyone else, in general, but especially within the course, and has been a snot all semester. On the last essay, he affixes a fantastically entertaining letter about how I am stupid. He tells me, in short, that he hates my guts, and that he knows I am going to give him a bad grade on the essay because I am not intelligent enough to grasp the complexities of his thesis. Knowing that no matter how I grade it, it is not going to be an unbiased score, I give it to the professor. The professor demands the student apologize or he will fail him in the course. He gives the essay a fair score of a B-minus, because it isn’t actually that groundbreaking. Fast-forward a few years. I’m working with a professor in the life sciences department in their research lab. This same student comes through the lab one day with my professor. Apparently, he is interviewing to work with the professor in the research lab also, and is being shown the lab. The student has a complete deer-in-the-headlights look as he recognizes me.)

Me: “Hello, [Student].”

Student:You work with Dr. [Professor]?”

Professor: “Oh, this is [My Name]. She’s quite indispensable around here. Her scientific work is superb, and she’s a very organized lab manager. She does all the ordering, purchasing, and administrative work for me. Do you know each other?”

Me: “Oh, briefly. He was a student of mine in [Course].”

(After the student leaves, I tell my professor all the details. This is the email that he then sends to the student:)

Email: Dear Mr. [Student],

After careful consideration, and a candid conversation with my current research assistant, [My Name], I will not be extending an invitation for you to join my lab team at this time, or at any time in the future. I do not welcome toxicity in my lab.  

Let this be a lesson to you. Never burn bridges. You don’t know when you might need them again.

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