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Intern Diaries: How to Get A Great Recommendation

Even though my internship runs until late August, many of my fellow editorial interns are heading back to school in the next week. We’ve been spending our rare free time in the intern nook stressing about the best way to get recommendations so that we can (hopefully) spend more time stressing in another intern nook next summer. I finally emailed some of the editors to see what advice they had for recommendation-seeking interns. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Do ask people you’ve worked closely with – Not only will people who know you the best give you the best recommendations but they’ll be happy to do so. While it might seem like a great idea to have someone with a big title write you a letter of recommendation, the Executive Editor you made copies for onc
e in June won’t be able to rave about your problem solving abilities. However, the Editorial Assistant that you rescued with your quick thinking will be able to offer insight into your great work ethic. So go for quality of recommendation, not titles. 

2. Don’t send out mass emails – Again, quality is important, not quanitity. I recently spoke to an editor who told me that she and her co-workers talk about mass emails they receive from interns looking for recommendations and they do not take kindly to this. So ask three or four different people, in different, thoughtful ways if they’d be willing to recommend you for a position elsewhere.
3. Do give the people you ask options – When you decide who you’re going to ask, make sure you give them a variety of ways they can give you your rec. letter for their convenience. Editors are always busy and they’ll appreciate it if you show that you’re aware of their daily time constraints. Offer options such as a recommendation on LinkedIn, a general letter for you to keep on file or let them know when your next round of internship applications go in so they can be ready for a phone call from a future boss.
4. Don’t get disappointed if someone says “no” – Chances are, the person you asked is super busy or doesn’t feel like they know you well enough to give you an adequate recommendation. Don’t take it personally, just politely thank them and move on to the next person.

5. Say Thank You! – This is a huge part of getting your letter of recommendation, that many interns forget. Editors are going out of their way for you by taking time out of their day to gush about your strengths and amazing qualities so go out of your way for them with a special thank you. One staff member mentioned recieving cupcakes, handwritten thank you notes and even framed pictures from a grateful intern. So make sure your “thank you” is just as memorable as you are.

Have any questions about editorial internships, email etiquette or getting fabulous recommendations? Shoot me an email at [email protected] and ask me anything, or follow me on twitter @amberdeexterous. I’d love to hear from you!

Amber is a recent graduate from Hollins University. She greatly enjoyed her time as HC Hollins Editor-In-Chief and looks forward to seeing what great things new students bring to the branch. 
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