Well done!


I’m assuming that if you are reading this blog you have the required credentials for a job / internship etc.


You’ve probably been asked for an academic reference . . . right?


Remember that providing a reference is much more than simply typing up the letter of recommendation – after all, who selects a referee who is going to provide a negative review ???


Providing a reference requires the referee to act as the professional that they are and provide an honest appraisal to those seeking the reference.


In my experience, there are three types of requests:


1.  From someone who has planned for this and has, appropriately, asked you well in advance if you would be willing to act as a referee in any such occasion that may arise.  These are the candidates who are most likely to succeed.  They will probably have kept in some form of contact since starting their studies (or graduating), with brief updates on how they are progressing, or seeking a bit of academic or career advice.


2. From the person you know quite well, but has never asked you if you would be willing to act in this capacity . . . and suddenly emails you in a panic to say that they have applied for something . . . and they know that it is short notice . . . but could you provide a reference in the next day or so . . .  A very poor approach.


3.  From the person who you vaguely remember who has just assumed that you will do it.  Again, a very poor approach.



Which of those three are you ?


So, be timely, plan ahead, keep in contact, be polite and professional.


What would really help the process is to provide a paragraph or two to the referee that sumarises key information from your CV – key awards, competencies, etc.


Something like this:


Dear Conor,


Many thanks for agreeing to be my academic referee for the internship that l have applied for.


Details of the internship and the service provider can be found at the following web address (also attached):




Also attached is my CV.


In terms of the requiremats of the internship, the following is a synopsis of the key elements of my CV matched to the internship:


As well as academic endeavor, Jo realises that there is much more to scholarly enquiry.  For example, whilst at TCD, Jo demonstrated quality leadership by . . .  As well as this, Jo also demonstrated commitment to College life, and that of the community by involvement in . . .  Indeed, Jo has previously demonstrated versatility and deep understanding of international policy and culture by . . .  Jo makes a significant contribution to . . .  etc.


Make sense?


Doing this helps you in terms of focusing on the requirements of the internship (or job) and how your experience and competencies match these requirements.  It also helps the referee in that it summarises all of the great things about you that don’t necessarily jump out at you from the CV.


So, make the job as easy as possible for both you and your referee.


Remember that YOU need that reference . . . the referee doesn’t . . . and they don’t have to do it !!!


It is true that the harder you work, the luckier you get  🙂


Start planning !!!



Conor  🙂




Posted on 3rd October, 2015.  Copyright Conor Mc Guckin