For students with little or no professional experience, professors and co-op or internship
supervisors become likely candidates to write letters of reference on the student's
What to Include
Letters are particularly effective when they relate directly to the skills necessary for a specific job or position. This may require that you meet with the student to discuss the desired placement prior to writing your reference. And while you will naturally want to present a student in the best possible light, it is important to present factual information, based on your own observations.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), if you are asked to provide a reference, you should also consider these questions:
- Who will see this information?
- Is the person asking for a reference entitled to that information?
- What is the purpose of the information?
- Is the information accurate?
- Is the information misleading?
Discrimination Laws and FERPA
While most employers will not ask you to provide information that they can't lawfully request from the applicant, it is important to understand what information you can and cannot disclose. You can find additional resources through NACE, including: