Letters of recommendation are a vital component of an application given that they reflect on the kind of person you are from the perspective of another. Therefore, it is very important to establish relationships with the people in your life who can accurately shine a positive light on who you are. Something I always did was engage with my teachers and professors outside of the classroom. Sometimes when I find something interesting in a class, I go to the office hours of the professor to elaborate more on the subject. Not only do you get to learn more, but you also get to form a relationship with that professor which will set you apart from your peers. If you work, establish relationships with your managers! Simply taking the extra step to treat your manager like a human being by engaging in conversation, as well as exhibiting hard work while on the clock, will be something your manager will appreciate. While you do not have to ask a teacher/professor or a manager to write your letter of recommendation, make sure the person you approach is somebody who knows you well. Also keep in mind that letters of recommendation are time consuming – be sure to give your recommender a fair amount of time before the recommendation is due. I always say it is best to ask a month before the letter is due just so they have time to write it as well as potentially sit down with you to ask personal questions. When you ask it is also beneficial to give them your resume so they can have a better idea of who you are. Lastly, never forget to thank your recommender! A hand written note is always appreciated, and a small gift (e.g. chocolate) is a bonus.