Archive for the ‘Internships, Career & Life After College’ Category

The Ultimate Guide to Letters of Recommendation: Who to Ask and How to Do It

Letters of recommendation. The elusive cousin of resumes and cover letters. While they’re not always invited to the party, they are generally welcomed as a nice surprise when they show up. They convey—possibly more than anything else—your work ethic. It’s important that your recommendation letters evolve as you take each new step in your academic and professional career.

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Who to Ask


Letters of recommendation are required for many college and scholarship applications and many volunteering opportunities. Think about the position or institution you are applying for and select letter writers that know your character and skillset the best. Some of those people may include:

  • Teacher: A teacher you’ve had at least a class or two with will be able to speak to your general work ethic, personality, determination, and willingness to go the extra mile. They are a good person to ask to write about your history of academic achievements.
  • Volunteering coordinator: Do you have previous experience volunteering? If you worked closely with a supervisor or volunteer coordinator during your experience, they would be a perfect candidate to write about your willingness to help and your dedication to a specific community.
  • Employer: Juggling a part-time job with school, extra-curricular activities, and volunteering says a lot about your ability to balance multiple things at once. Your employer will be able to talk about your punctuality, your enthusiasm to succeed, and how well you work with a team.


Recommendation letters are going to be important for three main things: internships, graduate programs, and your first out-of-school job. Even if a letter of recommendation isn’t specifically asked for, it is not a bad idea to have a few written up on your behalf to bring them with you to interviews. Not only does it show that you are a person worth vouching for, but it shows that you are willing to go the extra mile.

  • Academic advisor: Most colleges require each student to have an academic advisor. This is someone that should know your academic history as well as your passion for your field. Encourage them to write about your thirst for knowledge and excitement learn new things.
  • Internship supervisor: A supervisor from a previous internship is the best person to recommend you for your next internship. If you implemented any changes or created a project during your internship, ask your supervisor to mention that process and how it helped their business.
  • Mentor: If you’ve found a mentor in college, you should absolutely ask them to write you a letter of recommendation. Depending on your relationship, this is someone who will know what kind of work and activities you’ve been involved in, what you want to do in the future, and who can speak to what you’re capable of—chances are it’s a lot!

How to Ask

Writing a good letter of recommendation is no easy task. Once you decide who you want to ask, you need to take into account their schedule, how well they know you, and what they are best suited to write about. Follow these tips for a smooth process.

  • Be courteous: Writing one of these letters takes time. Make sure you ask if they’d be willing to write the letter at least a month before you need it. This gives plenty of time for them to come back to you with questions and work through multiple drafts. It also gives you time to find someone new if for some reason they say no or have to back out. It is your responsibility to let them know upfront of any deadlines or special requirements for the letter.
  • Be helpful: In order to write a great letter, your references will need details. Make sure to supply letter writers with a copy of your resume and cover letter, as well as the position description if the letter is going to be for something specific. You should let your writer know if you want them to mention specific pieces of information. It’s important to let them feel free to write their true opinions, but it’s never a bad thing to tell them why you are asking them to write the letter and what you think they can best speak about. Think of this as an opportunity to have someone else talk about things you couldn’t fit in your resume.
  • Be thankful: The process isn’t over when they hand you their letter. Make sure to look it over (unless it’s required to be sealed) and verify that it’s relevant and what you need for your application. After you’ve sent it off, be sure to thank your writer. An old fashioned thank you note is the best way to go, and mention how much it meant to you that they were willing to vouch for you and help you achieve your goals.

Whether you’re applying for a scholarship, a new job, a graduate program, or you just want something to supplement your resume, a strong letter of recommendation can set you apart from other applicants. Not only does it show your ability to build and maintain working relationships, a well-written letter gives potential employers, colleges, and scholarship providers an idea of your past achievements and work-ethic. To ensure a useful and relevant letter, ask someone who has a history of working with or advising you to write a recommendation. Provide the writer with examples of your work, an updated resume, and a brief description of the position or organization you are applying to.

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Holly King is a recently graduated writer living in Salt Lake City, UT. When not scouring the internet for updates in business, lifestyles, and technology, she is tending to her garden and trying to perfect the world’s best egg sandwich.

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What is the Peace Corps and should you apply?

peacecorps_logo-ogPeople often ask, “What is the Peace Corps?” President John F. Kennedy created this governmental agency in 1961 to promote peace and encourage friendship in developing countries. The organization offers a great opportunity to respond to President Kennedy’s inspirational challenge to “ask what you can do for your country.” Volunteers can use their talents to improve the living conditions in the areas where they serve. Since its formation, approximately 200,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served in almost 140 countries. They have helped local populations with agriculture, education, healthcare, and business development projects.

While the Peace Corps limits enrollment in order to recruit the best possible candidates, there are approximately 8,000 people training or on assignments around the world at any given time. The application process can take as long as 12 months. Peace Corps workers are a diverse group from all over the country. Most are young, educated, and single. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. The average age of workers is 25, and approximately 95 percent have at least an undergraduate degree. More than half are women, and nearly 17 percent are ethnic minorities.

10-028 Peace CorpsThe Peace Corps has opportunities in all fields of study. Volunteers are placed into policy areas that match their skills and interests before being sent to their final destination. They can work on conservation efforts and educate farmers on land management projects, such as how to increase crop production, which reduces the need for pesticides. Individuals can work on healthcare and medical assistance projects that include HIV/AIDS education and awareness. Volunteers with technical experience can help with IT infrastructure projects while other individuals can oversee projects that dig wells and plan irrigation and water purification systems. Business majors can train entrepreneurs, develop marketing strategies, and assist local community development initiatives.

There are a number of benefits associated with volunteering for the Peace Corps. One is the possibility of receiving graduate-level credit through Masters International. In addition to a small stipend and medical benefits, volunteers may be entitled to a deferment on their student loan payments for the duration of their assignment. Not only do volunteers gain valuable work and technical knowledge, they also achieve a better understanding of different cultures and language skills that are invaluable in today’s global economic and cultural environment. When their service is over, volunteers receive financial assistance to aid the transition to a life outside of the Peace Corps.

Click here to learn more about the Peace Corps.

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Top 10 Coolest Internships


Interns might have a reputation for being nothing more than glorified coffee-fetchers, but plenty of companies have internship programs that allow recent grads and current students hands-on experience, decent pay, cool perks, and legitimate resume-boosting credentials. So get your resume ready, because here are ten of the coolest internship programs offered today.

1. Accenture: If you are looking for an internship in consulting, there is no better company to look toward than Accenture. These internships, taking place all over the United States, offer hands-on consulting experience. These are paid summer positions for undergraduates, meaning you won’t have to serve coffee on the side for spending cash. And you’ll get to experience the work of a full-time consultant.

2. Viacom: Work with the company in charge of MTV Networks and VH1. With positions available in every department from Production to Design, there is awesome job training waiting for just about anyone.

3. IBM: IBM offers a comprehensive internship program with benefits that rival most full-time jobs: competitive salary, paid holidays, “challenging and stimulating work assignments in leading-edge technology and service operations.” For an internship in technology development, you can’t beat IBM.

4. Nordstrom: The Nordstrom Retail Management Internship is available to recent college grads with an interest in fashion retail. Receive mentoring in the area of luxury retail management, a competitive wage, an employee merchandise discount, and the offer of an assistant manager or salesperson position upon completion of the program. Internships in other areas are also available.

5. Google: Google offers technical and non-technical internships for students and recent grads able to commit three months full-time. Work at the coolest company, earn money, and be at the forefront of the latest in social media technology.

6. Huffington Post: Work at one of the fastest-growing internet publications to gain experience in areas such as editorial, social media, and software development. Huff Post internships are paid opportunities that allow you to do important work within the company.

7. MillerCoors: Talk about a unique summer job! Learn the basics of a career in brewery, complete with plenty of opportunities to kick back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Miller hosts two social events for employees per week. (Must be 21 or older to apply.)

8. Electronic Arts: Want a career in video game creation? Check out EA. Their internship program also offers a weekly speaker series, ample opportunities to network, experience working on the creation of new games, and sometimes even a full-time job upon completion.

9. Apple: Get hands-on at Apple, where interns work alongside seasoned professionals for product development. Maybe you’ll be partially responsible for the next iPhone-level sensation.

10. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Art history buffs should flock to the Met’s internship program, offering full access to all of the museum’s collections, as well as other collections and research libraries in the NYC area. Learn about art (and earn a healthy stipend!).

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