Relationships with Recommenders

Posted on October 28, 2011. Filed under: Career | Tags: , |

One of our interns had some very good questions regarding recommendation letters to internship sites.  In fact, so good that I am going share my response on my blog!

Question One:  Is it okay to have the recommendation letters sent to me? I ask because some of my internships require me to upload all of my files (recommendation letters included) to my online profile.

Yes, it is fine to have letters sent to you.  However, this is entirely dependent on what the internship site requires, and you should be passing along this information to your recommenders.  So, if they require that you electronically upload the letters, obviously they need to get the letters to you.  Bottom line – however the site wants them submitted is the way you should do it.  If they don’t specify, go with whatever is easiest for your recommender.

RECOMMENDATION LETTER TIP #1:  Be sure that all of your letters are signed by the recommender, especially if they have been sent to you electronically.  

Question Two:  Is it in my best interest to have recommendation letters sent to my prospective internships without already having seen them? 

Of course it is always nice to know what a recommender has to say about you in a letter, but it is not necessary that you receive a copy.  I think it’s a matter of personal preference on the part of the person writing the letter whether or not they share it with you.  Some professors are used to the “old school” way of doing this which meant sending letters directly to the sites, or sealing the envelope and signing the seal to guarantee that no one could alter the letter. Personally, I would not ask for a copy unless I needed to submit it myself.

RECOMMENDATION LETTER TIP #2:  If you are at all unsure about what a recommender will say about you, then you probably shouldn’t ask them to write a letter.

I would like to compliment this intern for getting started early, especially with recommendation letters.  You will find that this is the one part of the application process that you have little control over, so it can potentially cause you to miss application deadlines and derail your whole search.

RECOMMENDATION LETTER TIP #3:  Start early and let your recommenders know what your expectations are. If you plan to apply to 10 internships, let them know that so they can save the letter for the next time. Give them clear instructions as to what the letter should discuss, to whom it should be addressed and when and how you need to receive it.

So, the next time you are in class daydreaming about the great internship that you’re going to have next summer, wake up and spend a few minutes after class getting to know you professor.  Ask his/her opinion on your career ideas.  You just might be surprised where it might lead…

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