Who’s on Your List…of References?

By: David Ross

Now that you may be working on submitting internship or job applications, consider identifying a list of references. As part of the application process, companies often request candidates to submit a list of individuals they can contact to learn more about you. Before you find yourself in a situation where you are indeed asked for a list of references, be sure to think of those people who know you well and can vouch for your capabilities.

I would recommend devising a list of 3 – 5 individuals initially. Once you have identified possible recommenders, be sure to contact them and ask if they would be willing to serve as a recommender on your behalf (remember, proper etiquette is always important!). When you contact each potential recommender, be sure to provide them with a quick overview or update and let them know where you are in your internship or job search process. Also, confirm the best way to reach them and, as much as possible, try to notify them if you anticipate a potential employer will contact them for a reference check in the near future. Possible candidates for recommenders should include former supervisors or co-workers you have worked with extensively, professors that you may have assisted with research projects or anyone else in a professional capacity that knows you well and can speak to your work habits.

As you progress through the application and interview process, don’t forget to have a list of your references available on paper should a potential employer request it. Devising your list now will allow you to focus on other important aspects of the application and interview process for internships and jobs.

Author: David

David Ross is a Senior Associate Director of Career Services for Wharton undergraduates and occasional blogger for "Penn & Beyond."