Letters of recommendation.
Many of my students will, at some time or another, request letters of recommendation or references as they pursue new jobs or further educational opportunities. While I am happy to write letters for students with whom I have had substantial interactions, there are a few things I require before submitting a strong letter in a timely manner:
Send requests to me as early as possible, and at least two weeks prior to the application deadline.
Attach any cover letters you intend to use in your application.
In a separate document for me, outline what you intend to do in your desired job or graduate program; highlight anything in particular about your time as my student that you believe would be helpful for your application.
Provide me with a copy of your current CV, as well as a transcript (unofficial is fine) of your coursework when you were my student.
Remind me of the courses I taught you, if I supervised your research, and/or was your advisor. While I try to remember all of my former students, as the years pass, and the number of former students grows, I might forget. Don't be offended!
Current students who think they might need a reference in the future should work on making a good, strong impression now.
To write a strong, detailed, and truly impactful letter of recommendation, it is important that you make a strong impression on your letter writers. This is done in a number of ways:
Always come prepared to participate in seminars and don’t miss lectures.
Attend talks and other activities outside the classroom. Be a fully-engaged member of the academic community.
Regularly attend your professors’ advice and feedback hours and cultivate meaningful relationships with them.
It is very difficult to write good letters for those students who have not been an engaged member of the academic/school community. The more interactions you have with me, the easier it is to write a letter that is really personal to you, and thus more impactful when read by future employers or admissions committees.
Finally, please understand that I might not be the best person to write a letter on your behalf. I recommend that you identify those professors with whom you've had the closest interaction—and those who can give you the strongest recommendation possible.