Step 2: Create List of Potential Recommenders

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As mentioned earlier, it has to be someone who you spent a significant period of time with. The six months mentioned is a good standard to keep in mind, but it can also be an employer with whom you interned for a period of three months.

​danger​ Although we have been using the term professor as a catch-all for people who can recommend you, it doesn’t have to be someone within the realms of academia. In fact, it would help if you can get it from someone who works at a company (a manager, or maybe a CEO?), so your profile looks well-rounded.

Since we decided you might need between four and six recommenders, be sure to have a list of at least six so that you have a buffer for people who might say no.

Step 3: Re-Check the List Once More

Ask yourself if you put down a name because they have closely observed your work or because they are the head of a department who has seen you thrice over the past four years. We all want to get a recommendation from the heads of departments and directors of companies.

However, would you rather someone write this:

β€œIt is my pleasure to recommend Siya to your graduate program. Siya took my course on Psychology in her junior year. She is a strong student, works well with her peers, and is attentive inside the classroom. She scored an A in my course and consistently scored above average in her assignments. Apart from being a good student, she also is the head of design for the university’s magazine and spends her time volunteering at the local NGO on the weekends.”

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