How to Properly Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

Applying for an internship is an exciting, yet time consuming task. You’ve spent countless hours researching prospective internships, and polishing your résumé and cover letter. To finalize your application, you are required to provide potential internships with a letter of recommendation from a professor. The question is: how do you properly go about asking a professor to write you a letter of recommendation?

Here are a few steps to follow to appropriately obtain the best possible letter of recommendation.

Be prompt and ask early 
Professors have busy lives as well and shouldn’t need to drop everything in order to write you a recommendation. Allow at least three weeks before the recommendation needs to be received for your professor to write you a well thought out and honest recommendation.

Ask the right professor
One of the most important aspects in asking for your letter of recommendation is asking the right person. Ask a professor who knows your accomplishments and capabilities. As a reminder, don’t ask a relative or close family friend.  If a professor declines to write you a recommendation letter, it’s ok! Don’t panic or push it.

Ask in person
Asking your professor in person will only work towards your advantage. This will show your professor how much his/her letter of recommendation means to you. If you are unsuccessful in reaching him/her during office hours, you may want to email your professor and schedule an appointment.

Provide the appropriate materials
When asking your professor, make sure to provide him/her with all the necessary materials in order to write your letter of recommendation. This may include, but is not limited to a letter of recommendation form, your résumé, a pertinent writing sample (one from that professor’s class) and any additional required information that will help your professor to write the best possible letter of recommendation.  Don’t forget to provide your professor with the due date for your letter, too.

Don’t be afraid to follow up
We are all human and it is possible for professors to forget about the letter. Approximately a week or so before the due date, you may want to send your professor a friendly email thanking him/her for writing your letter and reminding him/her of the upcoming deadline.

Send a handwritten thank you note
Always thank the professor for his/her time spent writing your letter. Although a thank you email is suitable, a handwritten note is much more thoughtful and memorable.

Keep your professor updated
Be sure to keep your professor updated on your internship offers and final decision.

Final reminder
If for any reason you no longer need the letter of recommendation, contact your professor and let him/her know immediately.

For more advice on how to ask for a letter of recommendation, refer to these websites below: http://www.stolaf.edu/depts/english/letterofrecommendationrequest.pdf

http://users.dickinson.edu/~richesod/letterofrec.html

Sources:
http://www.petersons.com/college-search/letter-recommendation-how-ask.aspx

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