There is always something exciting going on in Academia World, and this time of year is no exception: among other things, it is Decision Time for many students who applied for graduate programs, jobs, or internships. Some applications are still ongoing for jobs/programs with late deadlines (I got asked to write a letter of reference yesterday for an application deadline of today), but late February to mid-April is typically a very busy time for weighing options and making decisions.
In the past few months, I have, as usual, written many letters of reference for undgrads and grads. My own advisees let me know what happens regarding their applications, of course, but I am always amazed at how many students don't bother to tell their letter-writers the results of their applications. This applies to undergrads applying for internships, jobs, or graduate programs; and also to graduate students (other than one's own advisees) applying for faculty positions and postdocs. I typically say "Let me know how it turns out" or "Let me know what you decide to do", but it is surprising how few follow up on this.
Perhaps people get busy and just don't think about updating their ancillary letter-writers, or maybe they think we don't really care (?). I just looked through my files and counted fourteen (14) letters of reference that I wrote for a graduate student whose committee I was on. I don't remember how I found out he had gotten a faculty position (for which I had written a letter and had a phone conversation with the search committee), but it wasn't from him. ??
My intention here is not to whine or complain. My intention is to say to any students who read this: if someone writes you letters, and especially if someone has written > 10 letters for you (each one special!), let them know the outcome. It doesn't matter if it's for a summer internship or tenure-track faculty position: some of us want to know. Maybe some don't, but err on the side of assuming your letter-writers are interested, that we do care, or even that we have idle curiosity about your fate.
13 years ago