Chapter 5: Sample Recommendation Letters
Sample Short Recommendation Letters
The five sample letters that follow, which you can download by clicking on the link below, are for circumstances where the candidate is seeking an internship or job, and therefore academics are not the focus.
In the first letter, written by a campus Red Cross Director, the author speaks to qualities about the student such as his ability to work with others, his creativity, leadership, and sensitivity. Since the student is being recommended for a career in public service, these examples—provided by someone who has witnessed the student’s work outside of the classroom—are highly appropriate.
The next three letters, written for students seeking internships or summer program positions, are all sensibly just one page, using examples from classrooms and labs to demonstrate potential. One letter notes the fact that the student has a 4.0 GPA, while another represents how the student handled herself in the presence of the president of the university. Another letter even represents honestly how the student has grown over time, citing the student’s struggle “to see her own potential earlier in her college career.” For those reading such letters and deciding on whether or not to hire and help advance a student’s training, such details are all equally interesting—academic success, maturity, and evidenced growth are all traits that employers embrace in those they hire.
The final letter in this set recommends a student for a job giving tours of animatronic displays. Accordingly, the writer focuses on the student’s depth of knowledge in a relevant subject area and her communication skills. The writer also dares to be even more personal, noting that the student has “firm spiritual roots and an active, diverse, social life; she is loyal, committed, and clear-sighted.” Such personal detail tells us that the recommender knows the student well and admires her, and thus we trust the letter author and her endorsement.