Previously we covered how to ask one of your instructors for a letter of recommendation. Here we offer advice for ways to ensure that, when you ask, your instructor can say yes.
- Turn in your assignments on time. Your instructor wants to be able to write that you are reliable and can fulfill the requirements of your internship or job as directed.
- Pay attention to the details. If you are asked to write a paper in MLA, make sure you format everything correctly. If you are asked to provide a cover sheet or double-space or use certain margins, do it. People like to work with people who make their jobs easier by following directions.
- Pay attention in class. It’s respectful and it demonstrates that you try to make the most of your time. No one wants to recommend a person who will disappear during work hours to check their phone for 30 minutes in the bathroom.
- Treat your class with respect. If you disagree with someone’s opinion in class, offer your viewpoint in a respectful manner, without attacking the other person. Wait your turn to speak and don’t shout over anyone. When the instructor indicates they want to move the discussion somewhere else, accept their decision. There are tons of people just as smart as you. That means employers have their pick. They’d rather pick someone who’s both smart and easy to work with.
- Treat your instructor with respect. If you are unhappy with your grade or another aspect of the class, politely let your instructor know that you would like to discuss it. Don’t start off by telling them that they are wrong and that you don’t, in fact, deserve that “C.” Probably your instructor spent a long time thinking about your work and didn’t assign a grade arbitrarily out of spite. Listen to what they have to say, even if you’re angry. They’ll be impressed with your maturity, even if they don’t change your grade.
- Get to know your instructor. Go to office hours! Instructors can’t write a stellar letter for a student they barely remember.
- Do your best. Your best may not mean an “A,” but instructors appreciate when you put forth effort and when you try even when you’re dealing with homesickness, family matters, and other things. They’ll remember your perseverance and dedication when it comes time to write you a letter.