Spanish for Professional Purposes...

...for teachers and students who see the need for Spanish language and Hispanic cultures knowledge in professional contexts.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Letters of Recommendation

When asking for letters of recommendation, provide specific, detailed information.

Many university classes have so many students in them that the professors don't even get the opportunity to know students by name. Because Spanish classes are usually smaller in size, those professors are often the obvious choice when looking for a personalized letter of recommendation.

But don't assume that just because a  professor knows your name, he or she will be able to automatically write an outstanding letter of recommendation on  your behalf.  Do your part to be memorable. First by being a standout student--both in class and on assignments.  Then by providing specific, detailed information from your time in that professor's class to be used in a letter of recommendation.

While in some professions it is not unheard of for people to write their own letters of recommendation and then forward them to the recommender for editing and signing, that is probably not an appropriate approach for students.

However, once a professor agrees to write a letter of recommendation, you should write a paragraph or two describing the project(s) you did in his or her course. If you provide a resume, make sure to specifically refer the professor to the part of the resume related to his or her course: "please see the description of the project I did in your NAME OF CLASS in the 'Special Projects' section of my resume" or "a description of the service project I did with NAME OF AGENCY is in the 'Work Experience' section of my attached resume."

Think about it from the perspective of the recipients of the letter of recommendation. They do not want to read a repetition of information that's on your resume (first, because they have presumably already seen your resume and second because they'd like to read about how you stood out in a certain professor's course--not read that professor's re-write of your resume).

Remember: Most college professors have 100+ students every semester (often totaling 1000+ in any four-year period). If you provide generic information, they will probably plug your name into a form letter that they have sent out 100's (or 1000's) of times before.

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