Letters of recommendation are often essential to achieving funding opportunities. Asking someone to write a letter on your behalf can seem daunting, here are some tips and resources to be successful.
Oftentimes, the first question you might ask yourself regarding a recommendation letter is "who should I ask to write on my behalf?".
The answer to that questions is different for everyone. Oftentimes, letters for academic scholarships are written by professors, however, they can also be written by coaches, managers, advisors, etc.
When deciding who you should ask to write on your behalf, consider the following:
Choose the person(s) who most closely meet this criteria.
Two months before the letter is due: Begin to think about who could potentially write on your behalf. Keep in mind the criteria above.
Six weeks before the letter is due: Reach out to your potential recommender(s) to ask them to write on your behalf via email or by visiting during their office hours. Be sure provide the context for which they will be writing (i.e., graduate school, a job, a scholarship).
Four weeks before the letter is due: If your potential recommender has agreed to write a letter, set up a time to meet in person to discuss the specifics. Be sure to bring copies* of the following:
*Some recommenders will prefer hard copies, while some will prefer electronic copies. Be sure to ask your recommender which they would prefer in advance of your meeting.
One week before the letter is due: Feel free to remind your recommender via email, but do not send more than one reminder.
Once the deadline passes: If your recommender has not submitted the letter, you should send a follow-up email or visit their office.
After the letter is written: Remember to thank your recommender. You can do this in person or by email, depending on the nature of the letter. If they helped with multiple applications/deadlines, a more personal thank you is appropriate. Additionally, be sure to follow-up with your recommender regarding the outcome of your application.