How to Find Your References

By: Cody

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.

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Finding the Right References
When looking for references it is important to keep in mind 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 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 most college students 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 person; make sure they will give you a positive reference! You don’t want to ask someone to be a reference if you know they could give you a negative review. Instead, find someone else to ask who 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 your 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. Also, ask the person if they need anything from you in order to be a reference (such as a copy of your resume).

Need Help?
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 or stop in SCC 22 to talk to a career counselor.

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Photo source: Victor1558

Get to Know Your Professors

By: Whitney

It is easy to go through college going through the motions and trying to just get by. There are many classes you don’t need extra help in because you are doing perfectly fine in the class and don’t need outside help. Even if this is the case it is still VERY important to make a good impression and seek out your professors. By doing this you will make connections you can’t find anywhere else.

By attending a professor’s office hours, even if it is for a simple question you may have, or just checking in, you are showing them you really are investing time into their class and you’re working hard. This will turn out to be especially helpful if it is a class in your major. I know it is often really intimidating to go into a professor’s office hours, but trust me, it helps in more ways than one.

My freshman year I could count on one hand how many times I used a professor’s office hours. I am not saying I would have aced the classes even if I had used the office hour provided more often, but it certainly would have helped. I did not fully understand concepts and I wasn’t searching for help in the best place possible, the primary source! This semester, I have been in every one of my professor’s offices at least three times, and I am doing much better in all of my classes! When you look at a syllabus, grading rubrics, or the grade book and see there are participation points given out in a class that is an 80+ person lecture, you wonder how you are supposed to get those participation points? The way to get them, and boost your grade because of it, is to put a face to your name early in the semester by going into their office hours or introducing yourself so they know who you are and that you are ready to work for the semester. Then check back in periodically throughout to show you are still invested and working hard.

By getting to know professors you are opening so many doors of opportunities. Many professors tend to have a lot of connections outside of the University. Professors may be the resource or the connection you need to land a job or an internship of your choice, especially if they know someone in the company where you are applying. Even if they do not know someone directly in a company, they are a great option for helping you find a job or an internship in your field.

Finally, if you make the connections with your professor, especially the first time you have them (because chances are you will have them again somewhere down the line), they will be an excellent resource when you are looking for references and letters of recommendation. The more established relationship you have with a professor, the more willing they are going to be to write you a good reference. References from professors look great when employers are looking through your references. Having professors listed shows that you were invested, proactive, and interactive with professors and that you really care about your grades and take charge of your goals in life. It also shows that if you have a problem or a question you will be willing to do what it takes in order to get the job done. This is important when employers are hiring someone because they are looking for someone who will most benefit their company and will be willing to work hard to accomplish tasks that are given.

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