For university and graduate school applicants, a glowing reference letter from a work mentor or professor from school is necessary to separate you from the crowd. For internship and job applications, employers often contact referees before making the final decision on whether to hire you.
References are key to your dream school and dream job. Here are some ways to help you achieve a lasting and positive impression on your referees-to-be.
1. Get Noticed
At school, be sure to speak up and get noticed by your professor. Volunteer yourself for teaching assistant positions. Teachers or mentors for your extra-curricular activities or volunteering activities can also be potential referees.
It goes without saying that you should try your best at every internship or even part-time job, your bosses will be invaluable contacts in the future.
2. Keep in Contact
No matter how well you did in a class or internship, it is difficult for your mentors to remember you if you don’t keep in contact. Networking is about cultivating relationships. Express your sincere desire to connect without expecting anything in return. Ask them out for coffee from time to time, visit your professors when you have the chance, congratulate them on professional achievements and wish them well during seasonal events.
3. Make it Easy
Where you require a written reference, this takes a lot of work for your mentor. Be aware that you are asking for a favour and make it as easy as possible for your mentor to grant the favour.
In your email to your mentor, you should provide the following:
· Brief self-introduction
· Your relationship to your mentor
(E.g. you took x class in x semester and you obtained x grade or you interned at x department from [date] – [date])
· What/where you are applying
· Why you are applying
· Your key accomplishments and experience
· Other relevant information
You can also attach your academic transcripts and your resume (so that your mentor can have a quick overview of your background).
You may also volunteer to prepare a draft. The goal is to make it as easy and painless for your mentor to prepare your reference and to subtly highlight the important achievements that you wish for him/her to mention.
Finally, always remember to extend your thanks to whomever you have approached.
If you have any queries on how to approach a mentor or how to prepare a draft reference letter, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org