March 19, 2014
Ah internship season, perhaps not quite as popular as the Ohio University fest season, but much more important. With many internship and even scholarship applications comes the requirement for at least one letter of recommendation. Now I know how a daunting a task this can be. Who do I ask? Will they say no? How many letters can I ask for? These are all valid questions that will swarm into your mind once you start the process. However, I think I can provide some tips that will help simplify the process when asking for letters of recommendation.
- Know how many letters you’ll need ahead of time. It is very important that you give whoever is recommending you enough time to write the letter. I always recommend asking them at least two weeks before the application is due. If you send requests out this early, you won’t have to worry about getting your letters at the last minute and it makes the process less stressful.
- Make a list of professors and employers you have made a good impression on. It might be hard to determine who you feel comfortable asking for a letter of recommendation. Try thinking about which professors you’ve developed a good relationship with, past employers that have been supportive and even leaders in your clubs and organizations. Make a list of all these people and keep notes by their name detailing what field they specialize in, and use this list to keep track of how many times you’ve asked them for a letter of recommendation and how many times (if any) they’ve written one.
- Ask for more letters than you may need. If an application requires you to have two letters of recommendation, send out requests for three to four. That way, if one person says no, you still have the number that you need. This can save you a lot of time scrambling around at the last minute for an additional letter.
- Try to tailor your letters to the internship for which you’re applying. When you send your email requesting a letter of recommendation, be sure to include information on the internship itself and some of it’s requirements, as well as your own resume. This gives the recommender the information they need to ensure your recommendation fits with the internship application. Some may even ask for specific accomplishments you may want them to highlight in their letter. Be ready to answer all these questions and include enough information so the writer can make you look as good as possible in their letter.
- ALWAYS say thank you!. I know this just sounds like common sense but I felt that it needed to be said. Writing a good letter of recommendation takes time and effort, and it deserves a sincere thank you email. I have been truly touched by some of the recommendation letters I have received and said so when I thanked the writers. Also keep in mind that a sincere showing of appreciation will go a long way when you ask them to write another letter in the future. Always leave people with a better impression of yourself each time you work with them.
Sarah Rachul is a sophomore studying Strategic Communications with specializations in Sports Management and Visual Communication. You can follow her on Twitter at @SarahMRachul.