Get to Know Your Professors to Get the Best Recommendations

Job hunting and/or finding an internship is a strenuous process. There's long applications, waiting to hear back from potential employers, and asking for recommendations. Of course, seeking an appropriate recommendation offers a lot of complications. Who should you ask? Who will actually give you a worth-while recommendation? What should you avoid doing so that finding a recommendation is simpler? After speaking to communication arts professor, Hilary Goldstein, a few conventional tips have come to surface.

First and foremost, professors are willing to give a recommendation to any student. With that being said, focus on performance. Your performance in class will often dictate whether or not a professor will give you a recommendation. Your performance will also inform your professor on what the content of his or her recommendation will be. You want to place your best foot forward so your recommendation will be a reflection of that, even if that means your best effort landed you a C in the class.

Professor Goldstein said, "If a student got a C, I'm not going to sugarcoat their academic abilities, but if I feel the student did work hard there are other qualities I could discuss in a letter. If a student didn't make an effort to be engaged in my course, I'm probably not going to put a lot of effort into a letter."

The overall takeaway is to display a good work ethic. Professors will be able to note how much effort a student gives in a class even if their performance is not the best. Ideally, you want to display both high performance and great effort.

Another thing to focus on to enhance your recommendation is to forget worrying about receiving a recommendation from a professor in your chosen major. There is no need to ask a professor in your major for a recommendation unless your application directly specifies to do so. Aside from a variety of hard skills, most employers want to know a student can produce quality work, is reliable, possesses a strong ethic and can work with others; this all transcends what you major in.

Goldstein elaborated, "Job hunting is really about networking and building relationships. Students should really consider each course a stepping stone and their professor a resource. Get to know your teachers, go to office hours. They know a lot more than what gets discussed in class."

Building your personal brand while in college is vital. Your personal brand is more or less what comes to mind when people think of you.  For example, everyone associates Louis Vuitton with luxury, sophistication and elegance. Make sure that while you are building relationships in college with peers, professors and staff that you are aware of what qualities are associated with you; this will make it easier to predict what professors will most likely write on your recommendation.

Lastly, remember that getting to know different people will broaden your personal interest and horizons.

According to Professor Goldstein, "Building relationships early makes it easy to ask for favors or recommendations later.  And it gives the professor more details to discuss and craft a really compelling letter."