The program director is a key player in the attempt to match but is not the only player in this game. If you have networked and gotten to know a few faculty you can use that to your advantage. Sometimes, we think "oh we should not write to the chairman, what if they are displeased, that will hurt my chances?". On the contrary, even if you do write to the chairman, the program chair will most likely read through the letter and forward it to PD for consideration. No harm there. if they like what they see, then you may be put on a list of 'to consider for interview' candidates. If they are not impressed, you wont hear from them. Overall you don't put your application in any danger, in fact you gain a lot if they do consider you. Something to think of doing, in case you are grappling at straws. This works best at places that you have done observerships or some kind of USCE. Actually, you can even write to other faculty in the interview season as they have a significant pull on the interview granting or even ranking of applicant process. The idea is to keep reaching out to folks who can be useful in your application. This technique works very especially if you have a decent resume and are looking to make contacts. If you do not know any body in the program, that is also okay, you can datamine for email contacts and then write to the appropriate personnel. Also if you have not done so already since 80%+ correspondence is through email, learn to write a composed, well articulated email. This in itself will be a tremendous investment. Make sure to check out a sample letter to write in case you are asking for observership opportunities
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