DEAR HARRIETTE: How do you ask somebody for a letter of recommendation? I need letters of recommendation from professors and employers for an internship. I feel awkward asking, because I have heard of people getting rejected. -- Recommend Me, Please, Boston
DEAR RECOMMEND ME, PLEASE: Letters of recommendation are extremely important and should be considered seriously. Before you make a request, think about the internship and what the requirements are. Then consider who knows you well -- as a student, as an employee, as a person. Ideally, you should ask people who know you well and who have concrete examples of your personality and how you interact in different situations. Select people who have a good reputation and with whom you have a good reputation. Be clear and specific when you ask for a recommendation. You can do this in writing, over the phone or in person. If the person you select has not interacted with you recently, be sure to have a reminder list of the things you did together and the dates. You want to make it as easy as possible for the recommender to be accurate in his or her description of you.
Give the person as much time as possible so that you are not imposing upon them too much. Generally, people do not agree to write recommendations if they are pressed for time or if they do not believe they can wholeheartedly offer a recommendation. If this happens to you, just ask someone else.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)