If you are in college, it is that time of the year when you start thinking about what you are going to do with your summer. In my case, being in the quarter system, I am thinking about what I am going to do during my spring semester. There are many applications to fill out, essays to write and letters of recommendation to ask for. Now, this last aspect is very, very important because those reading your application will get a glimpse at the way that you behave in an academic setting (if the letter comes from your professor), in a social setting (if your letter comes from a coach or from a volunteer coordinator) or the kind of person that you are (if it comes from a person with whom you work closely outside of school). I think that there are a couple of important steps to take when asking for a recommendation letter and I will give a bit of insight into the ones that I used to ask for these letters.
1. Get to know your professors. I put an emphasis on the plural because you never know who will be writing a letter for you and you really do not know who you will really click with. Ask them to get coffee, ask them about their research (they love to talk about that), ask them about what they like to do. Approach them! In addition, by getting to know many professors, not only do you create great friendships but this widens the range of whom you can ask. For example, if you are applying to be an intern in a bank, it would be a good idea to have your Economics professor write a letter for you. You can have other professors write letters too but try to match your recommendation letters with the academic field that you are applying for. I have also heard that a good way of going about doing this would be by having the professor that knows you the best write a letter for you. This works really well, especially if you feel that the professor really knows you and your work ethic.
2. Ask ahead of time! Believe it or not, professors have many other things to do besides teaching! They are busy people and that is why you need to ask for a letter early. But don’t just ask. First, approach the professor a couple of months in advance and ask him if he would be willing to write a letter for you. Then, after he agrees, you can follow up a day after and send him the materials that he needs to write it (such as the application, the prompt etc..).
3. After you hear back from the program you are applying for, send them a thank you note or thank them personally and let them know whether you got the opportunity or not. They will really like to know if you did!
These are the main steps that I followed and hopefully, they work for you. : )