References play a crucial role in your job/intern search. If an employer is interested in you once you’ve interviewed, you’re going to need to come up with a few references. Employers want to know if this awesome person they’ve just interviewed is truly awesome. They want a second opinion.
Who should I put on the list?
You want to put people you have worked with in some capacity. They may be from school, work, volunteer, etc. You’ll need to have at least 3 persons that can attest to your abilities and character.
Who NOT to put on the list?
- Your boyfriend/girlfriend. The exception is if they were actually your supervisor…which is another topic.
- Your friend. People do it all the time. They’ll list their bestie as a reference to paint a great picture. All ethics aside, this is dumb. Just imagine an employer calling your friend that has a hollerback ring tone or they forget they’re suppose to be your reference and say something completely unprofessional. Don’t risk it.
- Your mom. Seriously. Don’t.
Students, in particular, have a harder time coming up with references. They tend to feel as if they don’t have anyone who can vouch for them or that they can conjure up the courage to ask for a reference. If you’re a student, you’re in luck. You can ask your professors for recommendations!
Here’s what I personally feel about asking professors for references; I’m not going to ask a professor that I barely had an interaction with outside of roll call for a reference. This is why making connections with your professors is important. I’m not saying to kiss butt or to start buying pastries for Professor Tucker, I’m saying build legit relationships with these people. Our department is relatively small, so we have no excuse to not have some type of relationship with ONE of the professors.
So….how do I ask them?
Simply say, “Professor Awesomeness, I’m applying for a position with Levi Strauss and I was wondering if you would be comfortable being my reference/writing me a recommendation?”
Boom! That’s it.
Unless you’re flaky, I can’t really imagine any of our professors saying ‘no’.
Don’t count out volunteer work you have done either. If you’ve worked at church, the food bank, an after school program, whatever, ask the supervisor or lead if you can use them as a reference. The potential employer just wants to know if you’re trustworthy and hardworking.
The Reference Sheet
Usually, you’ll be asked during an interview to provide a list of references. Sometimes you’re asked to submit it via email along with your cover letter and resume. Either way, you’ll need to have a doc prepped and ready to go. This is the basic format:
Cal Poly Pomona (or the formal name)
Professor, Business Management
Los Angeles Food Bank
Again, having some references on deck is a big deal if you want a job. The job market is tough out there and you want to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’. It’s important to build key relationship wherever you go because you know the old saying, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget to say thank you!