5 Steps to get a recommendation at the end of your internship

How to get your internship recommendation letter

Your internship is drawing to a close. This is the perfect time to ask for a recommendation letter.  Getting a recommendation letter from your internship employer should be a primary goal for the summer. However, don’t make any assumptions about your employer. For example, never give out their contact information without their permission. Here are the 5 steps you need to take:

5 Steps to get a recommendation at the end of your internship

1.Manage Expectations all summer: There should be no surprises at the end of the summer if you are managing communications well with your boss all along. The best way to do this is to ask for feedback regularly. Make sure you are meeting and exceeding your manager’s expectations.  Great communications all summer will typically result in your getting a nice recommendation letter by August.

2. How and When to ask: You will want to ask your manager in person if possible.  The next best thing is by phone if you are a virtual intern.  Think if there are any additional people at your internship that you can ask.  Ask for the recommendation during the last two weeks of the program. An ideal time is at the end of a meeting where you have reviewed a just completed project or report.  You will ask the question like this: “Do you feel comfortable enough to provide me a letter of recommendation or be a reference?” You want to immediately ascertain if he or she will be a strong reference for you. Obviously if there is a problem of any kind, use the discussion as a chance to learn from their feedback.

3. Say Thank you and Offer Help:  Be sure to thank your manager.  Ask if they need any information from you to assist them with their letter. Give your manager your resume and remind him of your career goals. Provide a written summary of the results from your key internship projects and a list of the top qualities that you hope he will emphasize. Have this information ready and they will appreciate your effort to help them.

4. LinkedIn Recommendation: Ask him or her if they would be willing to share an excerpt of the letter on your LinkedIn profile as a “recommendation”.  This excerpt would be 2 or 3 sentences. If they say yes, send them a “request for recommendation” on LinkedIn. Some managers will prefer a LinkedIn recommendation over a written recommendation and will tell you so.

5. Contingency Planning:  Your first goal is to get a written recommendation and an excerpt on LinkedIn. If you can’t get both, try to get one of those. If you don’t get either because your manager is too busy but is apparently very happy with your work, there are two things you can do. Idea # 1: You can offer to write a draft for him or her to edit. Idea #2: Ask him to be available on your referral list so that a prospective employer may call for a reference.  Either way be sure to say thank you to show your appreciation.

You might argue that you can get the recommendation in the fall or winter when you really need it. However, it is much easier to get it now during the last weeks of your internship. Your manager will have an easier time describing your great work while you are still there.Don’t make the mistake of being too shy to ask for the recommendation. In fact, you may have to persist.  Sometimes managers will say “yes” to your request, but don’t come through in a timely fashion. This happens all the time, but just remind them in a friendly way. Your persistence will pay off!

When are you asking for your recommendation?


© 2013 Sandra Long. All rights reserved.


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Sandra Long

Sandra Long is the author of the bestselling book LinkedIn For Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide. She is also the managing partner of Post Road Consulting LLC. Sandra and her team work with corporations, universities, and individuals to drive successful sales, career, and talent acquisition results.


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