It is no secret that working or learning remotely or in hybrid learning environments makes it challenging to connect with professors. If you’re like me, you’ve likely reached a point in your academic journey where you need recommendation letters - either for a job or graduate studies. So, how do you ask for letters of recommendation when you’ve been interacting with your class mainly online? I spoke with a few professors to ask them insights on teaching in this new environment and how it impacts what they look for in students’ approaches to asking for recommendation letters.
Here are their tips:
Show Up & Turn Your Camera On
It seems simple but when students show up every day, turn on their camera, and regularly share their thoughts it’s easier for professors to reason writing letters of recommendation.
Share Your Future Hopes & Dreams With Professors
The professors I spoke with expressed that they would prefer to know your future plans and that the more details you can provide, the better the chance of getting a letter of recommendation – and one that will have an influence. Also advised, is to share your CV, cover letter, or any other information that can support you to get a letter that is tailored to your strong suits and aims.
Express Interest in a Letter of Recommendation Early-on
Asking for a L.O.R. is nerve racking enough when you are in-class but especially difficult due to the lack of interaction of online classes. Some advice offered by given by professors I spoke with is to express interest in a L.O.R. early-on (also, obviously: go to office hours, ask about the exam, engage in class, and build a rapport with them).
Quality & Content
Professors I spoke with note that both quality and quantity of engagement are considered – one doesn’t’ trump the other. However, depending on whether the letter is needed for academic studies or more interactive jobs, there will be a greater focus on whatever the situation requires.
The biggest takeaway from these conversations was the importance of interacting with your professors. Your professors want to help you but to get their help you need to show up and do the work. Something as simple as turning on your camera can make the world of a difference and put a face to the name on the screen. Ask early if you would like a L.O.R., get to know your professor, and build a rapport with them.