It’s that time of year again when everyone starts to look for summer jobs and internships. Or, if you are like me, you have to start looking for a ‘real world’ job. An important step in this job or internship search is to find good references. When looking for references you must do two basic things; find the right people to be your references and then ask them.
Finding the Right References
When looking for references it is important to keep in mind that you should have at least three different references. It is also important to have a variety of references. You don’t want to have three references from the same job or internship, try to shake it up a little bit.
Now on to the important part, where do you look for references? The best place to start looking is at any jobs or internships that you have had. Your managers from these jobs can provide a good reference of you and your work ethic. If you have never had a job before, or even if you have, you can also ask academic professors to be a reference for you. Professors can provide testament to your work ethic and academic ability. Employers will enjoy hearing from professors because they can see your ability to learn new things. Past jobs, internships and professors are the main three places that most people look for references. However, you can also look for references from: volunteer opportunities you have been involved in, advisors, coaches, colleagues, customers, clients, and any number of people who can attest to either your professional or personal attributes.
One last thing to mention about finding the right reference; make sure they will give you a positive reference! You don’t want to ask someone to be a reference if you know they will give you a negative review. Instead, find someone else to ask that will be able to give you a positive review. If you must put down someone who will give you a negative review, be honest with the employer and tell them. Explain to them that the review might not be great and give reasons why the review might not be stellar. This will help to alleviate the shock of the negative review for the employer.
Asking for References
After you find the right references you must remember to ask them to be your references. This is an important step, ASK! There is nothing worse than putting someone down as a reference and they don’t know they have been listed as a reference. When the employer calls that person the conversation will be awkward and it can possibly turn the employer and your reference off. So remember to ask your reference first.
When asking someone to be your reference it is best to do it in person. This is more personal and you receive you answer right away. If asking them in person isn’t an option try to call them or email them to get permission. When you ask for a reference remember to be direct and thankful. Even if they don’t agree to be your reference, remember to thank them for their time. If they do agree it may also be helpful to explain the job you are applying for and the skills or qualities they are looking for. By doing this your reference can tailor their review to those specific skills and qualities.
These are the very basics of asking for references. If you need more help on where to go or how to ask for a reference visit our handbook on our website at www.d.umn.edu/careers or stop in SCC 22 to talk to a career counselor.
Photo source: Victor1558