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Quit my job to do research for LOR?

Posted: Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:44 pm
by googy
I'm a foreign student doing a double major in Physics and EE in my last year. My grades are good compared to my class and I've been working a 40% job in a big Hi-Tech company during the last couple of years as a communications algorithms engineer (That's almost totally not related to physics). I've had some very good engineering projects at work, including an excellence award, and could get a very nice recommendeation from my boss. My problem is that the other letters of recommendation I will have are going to be from projects in my EE department - I will have no time to get a Physics project done by the applications deadline. One of the LORs is going to be from a project in Electro-Optics from a professor who publishes in physics journals and the other is going to be from a professor who does research in digital signal processing.

I could quit my job in the near future and use the time to get a project done for one of my Physics professors, but that is kind of out of my comfort zone. It might hurt the recommendation from my job, but I don't think it will hurt it too much. My question is how crucial, considering my situation and background, is it to get a recommendation from a physics professor I did a project for to get into a top 10 or top 20 university? Do you think it is worth the effort?