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Need a reference?

At any point in the internship, job, or graduate school application process you may be asked to provide professional references. These references can have a strong impact on your candidacy.

Who to Ask to Be a Reference

References that are most informative and helpful are those who know different aspects of your work and who are willing to support your candidacy enthusiastically and knowledgeably.

Consider reaching out to the following to serve as a reference:

  • Faculty members that you have worked with closely
  • Employment supervisors (current and previous)
  • Advisers for extracurricular activities
  • Colleagues with whom you have worked closely
  • Coach or volunteer leader (to serve as a personal reference only)

Typically, you would not ask family or friends to serve as a reference.

It is not a bad idea to let the reference know why you have asked them to be a reference for you and what areas of your experience you hope they will focus on when speaking about you.

If there is a hesitation or refusal to serve as a reference know that this individual may be encouraging you to seek someone else who would write more positively or comprehensively on your behalf.

Make sure to allow plenty of time to complete the reference checklist. Be considerate of your reference's time and do not put them in a time sensitive situation.

  • Approach 3-5 individuals and ask if they are willing to serve as a reference

  • Obtain complete contact information for each reference. This should include a phone number and email address.

  • Share your resume and a copy of the job description or graduate program to which you are applying.

  • Offer to meet with your reference in person to discuss the opening.

  • Follow up to check on the status of your reference if needed.

  • Thank your references and let them know the outcome of your application.


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