I am a bioinformatician working in genomics industry for the past 5 years and is now making up his mind for PhD in Germany. I am going through the essential requirements for the same and one of which is providing references from atleast 2 persons.
Now, while I understand that it would have been easier to get in touch with teachers/supervisors (from the master's course) right after completing master's but now since it has been quite some time (or years), I am wondering about the following:
While I am sure that my mentors from the master's course would be delighted to provide reference, would it be rightful to ask them for it at the first place? This is because, I am not in touch with them and they hardly have any idea what I am into now and why I am going for a PhD. Of course, I can call them and explain but still wouldn't that have any impact on the weightage of my reference from the point of view of the person screening the PhD application? In short, should I instead seek help from people who know me from the industry?
Will it be fine to get references from people who were my seniors in the Master's course, completed their PhD and now working in industry (in a good position) and provided they know me very well? Do their reference email/letter would be considered as good as a reference from a person from the academia? How do the references are judged?