I am a graduate student and the birthday of my research supervisor is approaching. He is a very nice person and I want to appreciate that by sending him birthday greeting. I am not sure if it would be appropriate to send him a card or it is better to greet him in person. Your advice is appreciated.
I can understand your concern Niki. Giving birthday cards or gifts to one’s superiors is always a somewhat touchy issue. If you get along well with the person, you don’t want to seem rude by doing nothing for their birthday; at the same time, you don’t want to look like you’re buttering them up to get special favors later.
Your best option would be to get a group of people who also work with your research supervisor to sign a “From All of Us” birthday card. If there is a group of people working with you on your research work, getting all of them to sign it would be perfect. If you’re working alone, under his supervision, perhaps you can connect with other graduate students who work with him on other projects?
If you can get a group of people to sign a card with you, there’s nothing wrong with all of you presenting the card to your supervisor together.
If you have to get a card by yourself, how to present it to your supervisor depends on a couple things: If you’re on friendly, first-name terms with each other, there shouldn’t be any problem with dropping the card off at his office in person. If you’re on more distant, professional terms, mailing the card to his office or dropping it off through his department drop-box might be best.
All in all, so long as you keep the card simple and professional, and keep your inscription the same, there shouldn’t be a big issue at all.