Surat rekomendasi dari (setidaknya) dua orang biasanya akan diminta pada saat kita melamar beasiswa untuk studi lanjut ke luar negeri. Surat tersebut lazimnya ditulis oleh atasan dan mantan dosen pembimbing kita, serta memiliki bobot yang tinggi pada proses seleksi beasiswa karena menjadi semacam testimoni bahwa kita memang capable untuk menempuh kuliah di luar negeri nanti.
Sayangnya, surat tersebut tak jarang hanya berisi hal yang sifatnya umum-umum saja. Oleh sebab kesibukan yang tinggi, pihak penulis surat boleh jadi telah memiliki semacam ‘master’ surat rekomendasi. Sehingga apabila ada yang minta dibuatkan, cukup ganti nama, edit, “poles” sedikit, lalu jadi. Praktis, namun kekuatan surat menjadi lemah karena berbagai hal spesifik yang semestinya bisa ditonjolkan justru tidak tertuang.
Lantas apa yang bisa kita lakukan? Sembari minta dibuatkan surat rekomendasi, saran saya sampaikan pada mereka: saya sudah buatkan konsepnya! Dengan cara ini, berbagai detail bisa tertuang dengan baik, dan atasan atau mantan dosen tinggal mengoreksi saja (kecuali jika pihak beasiswa sudah menyediakan formatnya, maka lain cerita). Jika dianggap sudah oke, mereka tinggal tanda tangan (ini seringkali menjadi win-win solution: kita diuntungkan karena konten surat menjadi lebih “kaya”, sementara pemberi rekomendasi diringankan pekerjaannya karena konsep surat sudah disediakan).
Nah, apa saja poin-poin yang idealnya tertuang di surat tersebut? Saya mencermati dua surat rekomendasi outstanding yang pernah ditulis oleh mantan dosen saya di Universitas Bremen, Jerman (Dr. Tim Jennerjahn), dan co-supervisor S3 saya sekarang (Dr. Christopher J. Glasby), surat rekomendasi yang bagus minimal berisi beberapa hal sebagai berikut.
- Statement bahwa mereka mengenal kita selama (misal) sekian tahu dalam kapasitas yang spesifik (sebagai contoh, sebagai dosen pembimbing, atau partner penelitian, atau pemimpin proyek riset yang kita terlibat di dalamnya).
- Statement bahwa mereka mendukung rencana studi lanjut kita dan yakin akan kapabilitas kita disertai dengan alasan-alasan yang spesifik (misalnya, kita pernah mengambil mata kuliah yang beliau ampu dan mendapat nilai memuaskan; atau kita pernah terlibat di proyek riset yang dipimpin beliau dan berkontribusi secara signifikan; atau saat ini kita sedang terlibat dalam joint research dengan beliau dengan hasil riset yang menjanjikan; dan lain sebagainya). Singkatnya, konten surat lebih banyak memberi bukti-bukti yang riil ketimbang sesuatu yang sifatnya umum-umum saja.
- Jika pembuat surat adalah atasan, akan baik sekali kalau di akhir surat diberi pernyataan tambahan bahwa usai merampungkan studi kita akan diterima kembali untuk bekerja di institusi asal.
Untuk lebih jelasnya, berikut contoh surat rekomendasi yang ditulis oleh Dr. Tim Jennerjahn saat saya melamar beasiswa New Zealand ASEAN Scholarships (NZAS) untuk program studi doktoral Marine Science di Universitas Auckland, New Zealand.
Letter of Recommendation
Dear Sir/ Madam,
I know Mr. Joko Pamungkas since 2005 when he was an S1 student (in the Indonesian system almost equivalent to B.Sc.) at the Jenderal Soedirman University (UNSOED) in Purwokerto, Indonesia. At that time he joined our international research team investigating the effects of human activities on the ecology of the Segara Anakan Lagoon in south central Java, Indonesia. This project forms cluster 2 of the Indonesian – German research and education programme SPICE (Science for the Protection of Indonesian Coastal Marine Ecosystems) and is being coordinated by Dr. Edy Yuwono (UNSOED) on the Indonesian side and by me on the German side.
Between February 2005 and January 2007, Mr. Joko Pamungkas participated in a number of research and education activities within the frame of our bilateral project. He participated in sampling campaigns in the Segara Anakan Lagoon and laboratory work at the Biology Faculty of UNSOED. He organized field trips and operated and maintained scientific gear to obtain water, sediment and benthos samples. His ability to work self-dependent and to take responsibility contributed largely to a smooth continuation of field work even inbetween joint German-Indonesian sampling campaigns. In the field he helped in the collection, sieving and sorting of macrobenthos samples and in the laboratory he contributed to the taxonomic identification of macrobenthic organisms.
Mr. Joko Pamungkas performed his S1 study also within the frame of the SPICE project. His thesis entitled “Macrobenthos community in the Segara Anakan mangrove area: a comparison study of their diversity and abundance from offshore to inside mangrove” contributed to the overall research goals of SPICE. He presented preliminary results of his thesis in a very good talk during an international SPICE workshop held at UNSOED in Purwokerto in January 2006. Because of the high quality of his thesis work his results made a significant contribution to an international publication in the journal Regional Environmental Change. Moreover, he successfully participated in an “International course on benthic ecology: benthic organisms in mangrove forests and tidal flats” held by the ZMT scientist Dr. Inga Nordhaus in Purwokerto in August 2005.
Besides his stamina in conducting sampling campaigns consequently and precisely over months he displayed keen perception in learning and applying state of the art methodology. He also demonstrated his intellectual ability during his S1 thesis study and when giving the talk during our international workshop. Since then he had the aim to pursue his studies in the International Studies on Aquatic Tropical Ecology (ISATEC) in Bremen. He knew in detail about the requirements for application and therefore chose a job in which he could gain professional experience in his field of work. Over the years he stayed in touch and discussed aspects of his research on the benthos ecology of Indonesian coastal areas with us thereby gaining experience and improving his professional expertise. Finally, he was accepted for the ISATEC Master course and studied in Bremen betwenn 2011 and 2013. During that time he attended my course on “Biogeochemical Cycling of Elements in the Aquatic Environment” and we had discussions from time to time. He conducted his M.Sc. Thesis project again in the SPICE Cluster coordinated by me and did a very good job.
He is a highly motivated student and upright person and I am also impressed by his persistency in trying to pursue his studies. Therefore, I think, he is extremely well prepared for a doctorate.
Dr. Tim Jennerjahn
Selanjutnya, berikut ini adalah konsep surat rekomendasi yang saya buat sendiri dan disetujui oleh Kepala Pusat Penelitian Laut Dalam – LIPI untuk melamar beasiswa yang sama.
LETTER OF REFERENCE
To whom it may concern,
I, as the director of the Research Center for Deep Sea, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), fully support Mr. Joko Pamungkas’ application for a doctoral study at the University of Auckland (Faculty of Science, Institute of Marine Science), as the degree (Ph.D) is most important for his further career as an Indonesian scientist.
I have personally known Mr. Pamungkas since 2008, and in the last five years he has demostrated his great capabilities as a young researcher. Through the DAAD scholarship, he in 2013 completed a Master of Science (M. Sc.) degree in the International Studies in Aquatic Tropical Ecology (ISATEC) program at the University of Bremen, Germany, with good academic results.
During his master study in Germany, Mr. Pamungkas also won a CSIRO fellowship to attend the 11th International Polychaete Conference in Sydney. His poster entitled ‘Utilization of Wawo Worms (Annelida, Polychaeta) in Ambon Island, Indonesia’ was awarded as ‘The Best Student Poster with Special Commendation’ at the conference. In the same month and place, he also participated in two international workshops, i.e. ‘Special Workshop on Microscope Photography & Preparation of Material for SEM’ and ‘Invasive Polychaete Workshop’, funded by Science for the Protection of Indonesian Coastal Marine Ecosystems (SPICE), i.e. a bilateral marine research project between Indonesia and Germany.
Since 2009, Mr. Pamungkas is used to collaborating with international research institutions such as the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), Australia, and the Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Germany. Through these collaborations, he has been producing several international publications (please see his CV for more detailed information), and successfully organized an international workshop on ‘Marine Taxonomic Study and Reference Collection Management’ in Ambon, June 12th, 2014, with Dr. Christopher J. Glasby (MAGNT) as the keynote speaker.
Mr. Pamungkas is, moreover, active in writing his opinions in local newspapers, and published several attractive videos on YouTube in order to disseminate his work (please visit http://www.youtube.com/user/ppld2014). His original video on ‘Laor – Delicious Marine Worms from Ambon Island, Indonesia’ reflects his interest, and has been used as a source of teaching material at some universities in the world.
Mr. Pamungkas is the only polychaete researcher in our institution, and is among a very few scientists in our country who dedicate themselves to study Indonesian marine worms. Therefore, once he is trained, he could be a role model in this field of research.
Considering his previous scholastic achievements (please see his CV for more detailed information), hard-working attitude and persistence, I do believe that Mr. Pamungkas will succeed in doing his doctoral study at the University of Auckland, and become a great asset to our marine research institute. Herewith, I also guarantee that Mr. Joko Pamungkas will return to his home country and be re-employed by our institution as soon as he completes his postgraduate study in New Zealand.
Dr. Augy Syahailatua
Demikian semoga setidaknya bisa memberi sedikit gambaran.
P.S. Baca juga artikel saya tentang ‘Contoh Letter of Motivation untuk Studi ke Luar Negeri’.