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How To: Get a Great Recommendation from Your Internship

June 12, 2012

Even though it’s still early in the summer, it’s never too early to start thinking about what you can gain from your internship this summer.  Clearly, you’ll gain knowledge and experience from your position, whether it’s making copies and getting coffee or having a hands-on role in a project. While you’re in the office, you can continually learn by observing and should be looking for opportunities to network.  Your summer internship is going to look great on your resume, but that’s not all it can do for you.  Getting a great recommendation is an important opportunity you will definitely want to take advantage of.  So how can you make sure to get a quality letter of recommendation?

  • Make a good impression.  Though this may seem obvious, you can’t get a great recommendation if you didn’t do a great job during your time there.  Besides being motivated and doing the best work you can, it’s also important to remember the little things that create a professional image.  Be punctual and don’t consistently leave early.  Don’t waste your employer’s time by making personal calls or checking social media sites during work hours.
  • Think carefully about who you’re going to ask.  Don’t send out a mass email to every employee you shook hands with.  Consider asking the people you worked most closely with or directly under, and ask on an individual basis.  They want to feel that their time is being well used and their opinion matters.
  • Talk to your manager and coworkers about your future.  Many internships turn into job offers, so you want to be sure that your employer knows where see you your career heading.  Additionally, these people are great resources for professional advice.  Asking about their own experiences will give you great perspective and help improve your chances of a great recommendation.
  • Give the person you ask a variety of options to improve your chances of getting a “yes”.  Whether it’s LinkedIn, a letter, or agreeing to being listed as a reference on future applications, giving options makes it easier to find a way that is convenient for them and useful for you.
  • Make sure to always, always say thank you.  Show that you appreciate their time and effort.  And if they say no? Don’t be too disappointed and of course still be courteous.  You don’t want to try to force someone into being one of your references—they’re less likely to give a positive response—and they might just not have the time.
  • Don’t ask for a recommendation at the last minute.  With this being said, don’t ask for one too soon either—they need to see your quality work before being able to recommend you!  However, asking at the very end of your internship may make your manager feel too crunched for time, and this might result in hearing a “no.”
  • Don’t just casually ask for a letter of recommendation in passing.  A planned conversation or carefully written email is a better course of action.  When you ask, be prepared.  Include materials, like your resume, that they will need to write the recommendation along with specific things you would like mention, such as projects you worked in or what skills you improved.  This makes the writer’s job easier and guarantees you’ll get the perfect recommendation.

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