by Abigail Thomas
Résumé? Check. Cover letter? Check. Completed application? Check. Letter of recommendation– Shoot! But you’re a freshman. You don’t have close relationships with staff members that you’ve only known for a semester. Heck, you’re still getting to know your roommate!
When it comes to the friend-zone, most people are trying to escape it, but how do you manage to push yourself into it with staff when it comes to letters of recommendation?
- Choose the right candidate
If you’re in a ton of lecture classes, this may be tough, but choose your candidate wisely! Find a class you participate in often, where the teacher can recognize your name and face and see the leadership potential in you. Bonus points if you can pick a faculty member whose name and status means something in the field in which you are applying. There is no doubt that Ohio University is known for being an elite journalism school. Try having a Scripps figure or journalism teacher say positive things about you to add that extra cherry on top!
- Ask early on
You thought YOU were busy getting all these scholarships and applications filled out, well try telling that to someone who has to manage lesson plans, grade hundreds of papers, have meetings, return emails AND have a life? If you want a good quality letter of recommendation, ask the moment you find out about it. Give them time to keep it in the back of their mind so they can observe you and your strengths and ask questions if they need to, and also. so they will actually do it. There are no excuses for a short notice!
- Be polite
Use your manners! Ask in a polite fashion. Don’t just say, “Will you write this for me by next week?” Take the time to say hello and why you asked them and how much you’ll appreciate their efforts. Let them know you understand if they are busy or can’t get it done right away. Check for grammar and punctuation so they know you made an effort (after all, we are in the school of journalism)!
- Don’t make them do all the work
As stated before, this early on in our college careers, your teachers most likely are not your friends. They don’t know all the things you are involved in, how outgoing you are, your leadership potential, or how well you do in your other classes. To make it easier on both you and them, fill them in! Email them a copy of your résumé and links to your professional profiles. Give them a list of all the things you are involved in and anything else you can think of. This makes the bragging about you part so much easier.
- Give thanks
This is the easiest part. Follow up and say thank you! Make sure their dedication to you is acknowledged and appreciated, so you know.
An extra tip for those who still don’t know how to establish that relationship, or want a professional relationship that will last, take advantage of PRSSA’s new Professional Mentor Program and have a go-to person who knows just what it is you need to make it in the field!
Raise your hand in class and be on your best behavior, because these letters don’t come to you! You have to chase them!
Abigail is a freshman majoring in strategic communication. She is working towards a specialization in public advocacy. After graduation, she hopes to work for a human right’s organization that looks out for people’s best interests, hopefully one who works with girls who are forced into sex slavery and helps young girls with HIV/AIDs. Follow her on Twitter at @abbsrthomas!