Strong letters of recommendation make an essential contribution to any application process, whether to graduate school or for a job. To receive a strong letter of recommendation requires two phases of effort on the part of the applicant.

First, build a track record.

  • be punctual, diligent, congenial, and everything else that a person of good character exhibits
  • achieve a level of academic excellence worthy of the competitive application process
  • develop a portfolio that demonstrates a set of transferable skills applicable to a variety of career paths
  • build quality relationships with your professors, your internship supervisors, and your employers so that they will be in a position to help you in two important ways:
    • recommend career paths suitable to your particular talents and aspirations; and,
    • provide an honestly positive letter of recommendation for you

Second, equip your recommenders to write for you.

  • politely request letters of recommendation from mentors who:
    • know you personally
    • have witnessed your growth amid challenging circumstances
    • speak with authority because of their credentials
  • provide the following resources to enable your recommenders to tailor their letters to the appropriate audience and include vivid, concrete examples illustrating your strengths as an applicant:
    • program title, description, and URL for further information
    • name, address, and deadline for submitting the letter
    • a copy of your resume or c.v.
    • a copy of your personal statement or other similar portion of the application packet
    • a reminder of how the recommender knows you (e.g., which classes and in which semesters, in the case of a former professor)

Former students are welcome to contact me to request a letter of recommendation.

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