Success After Graduation: Prepare Now for Great Recommendations

Whether you are heading directly into the workforce after graduation, or are thinking about graduate school, it is never too soon to develop practices that will help you secure great references from professors, internship supervisors, or volunteer program directors.

Some of the information in the attached articles will be well known to you, and if you aren’t implementing them now, it is time to start doing so. Come to class on time; be prepared for discussions and be an active participant in them. Do your best on your assignments Distinguish yourself as someone who is hardworking and can excel in your future career. Demonstrate that you are comfortable in leadership roles (in group projects, for example), or can be depended on for significant participation if you aren’t the group leader for a particular project.  Do your best, so that recommences can reflect that in their letters.

Some things might not be as obvious, when it comes to choosing a reference. If you have only had one class with a professor (in a General Education course, for example), they may have less to say about your skills and abilities than professors in your major or minor. Choose people who know you, and can attest to the caliber of your work. (If you did’t get a very good grade in a class --or classes—you had with a particular professor, it will be more difficult for them to write the kind of letter you will need.)That is why internship supervisors or volunteer program directors can also be good choices. The more specifics a recommended can include in a letter, the better.

Faculty members hold office hours on multiple days, every week of a quarter. It is a good idea to get to know your teachers. Drop by with a good question about class, or with questions about your future career, or about potential graduate programs. Go to them for advising, not just to have a hold lifted. A little personal interaction with your instructors –while rewarding on its own— can help them to not just remember you, but get a better idea of your interest in your future.

It is important to note that the people you choose as references can write or speak about you in glowing terms. A lukewarm reference letter or job recommendation is sometimes considered worse than no letter at all.  You will be able to judge for yourself when you ask for a recommendation or letter.  You are looking for a clearly positive response to your request.

Among other things, the attached articles address how to provide these specifics, as well as when (and how) to ask for a letter or job recommendation. Get started now, to be prepared for the future you want to have!

For tips on how to request and prepare a Letter of Recommendation, check out Resource Links to the right!