So far, your internship has been ah-mazing. You’ve already learned a ton about your field of study, and you can’t wait to take the next step in your career. There’s only one other thing that could possibly make your internship experience even better: getting a glowing letter of recommendation (LoR) from a colleague or supervisor.
Make no mistake – getting a strong recommendation can be a game-changer for your career. Along with your resume and cover letter, a glowing recommendation can help you land your dream job or internship.
Put simply, it’s well worth your time to ask for a recommendation letter from an internship. Read on to find out how to get a letter of recommendation that sets you up for success in your next job or internship opportunity.
1. Identify the Purpose of the LoR
First things first: Figure out why you want a letter of recommendation in the first place. Is it for a job? Another internship? A grad school program? The more clearly defined purpose a LoR has, the easier it will be for your letter writer to craft a glowing recommendation that highlights why you’re a great fit for the opportunity.
If you don’t have a specific reason for wanting a recommendation letter from your internship, there’s really no point in asking for one. Instead of a LoR, consider asking them to be a reference for you in the future. Also, stay connected with your contact! That way, you can tap them for help right when you need it.
2. Ask in a Timely Manner
If you actually do need a recommendation letter from your internship, be prepared to ask for it early. Ideally, you should ask at least three weeks in advance of the deadline. This will give your contact time to ponder your request (they can say no, after all). And if they agree to write the letter, three weeks should provide them with enough time to write a thoughtful and distinctive letter.
Keep in mind that your letter writer may be new to the experience of writing recommendation letters. You can take some of the pressure off of writing a LoR by simply asking for it early.
3. Pick Your Letter Writer Wisely
Most students have some prior experience asking for recommendation letters. You probably asked your high school teachers for LoRs when you were applying for college. You may have asked for recommendation letters from your college professors to help you secure a paid internship.
Related: Do Interns Get Paid?
These people presumably knew you well, and that’s why they were great people to ask for LoRs. The same rule applies when asking for recommendation letters from an internship. Don’t ask the CEO or some other executive you waved to in the hall once. Instead, choose someone whom you worked closely with — someone who can speak to your strengths and build a strong, supportive case for you.
4. Be Courteous and Professional
You’re ready to ask your supervisor/colleague for a letter of recommendation — but how? Honestly, a little bit of flattery can go a long way. Start by sharing how much you’ve enjoyed working with them over the last few weeks or months and how you would greatly appreciate a recommendation from them. It also helps to acknowledge how busy they are and that you’re happy to help them in any way you can.
It’s also ideal to ask for a recommendation letter in person. However, given that remote internships have been the norm this past year, this may not be possible. If you can’t ask in person, it’s acceptable to send an email instead.
5. Make It Easy
Sure, your letter writer could probably come up with a good LoR on their own, but why not make it easier on them by offering to help? After all, they are doing you a pretty big favor by writing you a recommendation.
The single best thing you can do for your letter writer (and for yourself) is to provide them with important information. What is the letter of recommendation for? What is the employer or college looking for in a candidate? What skills and experiences would you like them to highlight in the letter? Help them pinpoint your best traits so they can write the best letter possible. If they’ve never written a LoR before, it may help to provide them with a recommendation letter template.
6. Send an Update or Thank You Letter
Don’t forget to follow up with your letter writer. Send them a heartfelt thank you note (bonus points if it’s handwritten) and let them know that you appreciate them taking the time to write you a letter. Also, let them know whether you got the position! Everyone likes to know if their LoR helped you score a sweet opportunity.
You should be prepared for your would-be recommender to deny your request. Although it might sting a little, don’t assume that it’s because you did a poor job during your internship. It’s possible that they’re just too busy to write you a thoughtful letter. And don’t forget: If you use your recommender as a reference, be sure to give them a heads up each time you submit an application that lists them as a reference!
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