My Boss Treats Me Like Rodney Dangerfield, No Respect.

Dear Dora: My boss shows me no respectDear Dora,

I’m a 6th year grad student and my boss has essentially written me off. He doesn’t support me at all and essentially acts like I’m an invisible person. Of course, now is the time when I need his help the most (pushing for graduation, finding a postdoc/job, letter of reference). How can I get him back on my side?

– Shan, grad student


Dear Shan,

If your boss gives you no support and acts like you are invisible, it is time for you to speak up. Many professors are too busy to spend time with their graduate students, but that does not mean that they are not interested in your success. My advice is to approach your boss in person and to ask him to schedule a meeting where you can discuss your thesis, and what you need to do to graduate. Prepare very thoroughly for the meeting so you can resolve as many problems as possible. (Chances are more follow-up meetings will be necessary, and persistence will come in handy if your PI is too busy to talk with you.)

Many students need to be assertive during the last year of graduate school in order to convince their supervisors that they are ready to graduate. When you are assertive, you are able to articulate your needs and your merits without being aggressive or emotional. Once you have your research plans under control, it will be time to ask your boss for recommendation letters and advice regarding post-docs. While your boss probably has valuable contacts, do not rely solely on him for your job search. Professional networking events at your school or neighboring universities probably offer excellent opportunities to meet other professors and post-docs who can advise you.


Dora Farkas, Ph.D. is the author “The Smart Way to Your Ph.D.:200 Secrets from 100 Graduates,” and the founder of PhDNet, an online community for graduate students and PhDs. You will find links to her book, monthly newsletters, and discussion board on her site. Send your questions to [email protected] and keep an eye out for them in an upcoming issue!


Stay tuned for the next Dear Dora in two weeks!  In the meantime, check a few of Dora’s recent posts:


Submit your questions to Dora at [email protected], or use the comment box below!


2 comments so far. Join The Discussion

  1. mmm

    wrote on February 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    likely…this person has just been slacking for the past 6 years…and feels entitled to graduate…

  2. Is It 2-Week or 2-Hour Notice? Telling the Boss You're Leaving

    wrote on March 25, 2011 at 6:03 am

    […] My Boss Treats Me Like Rodney Dangerfield – No Respect. […]

Leave a comment

will not be published