Job Reference Roundup for the College Student

Posted by Julie Feinerman on July 14, 2011
Job Reference Roundup for the College Student

No matter what type of job you’re applying for, it’s likely that you’ll be required to submit a list of references—three to four people who can vouch for you. Even in college, applying for a position in the dining hall is going to require some kind of background check. That said, it’s best to secure a list early on in your college career. But how do you decide who would make the best references?

Educational References
Think way back to your high school days when you were looking for teacher recommendations to go along with your college applications. The thought process in choosing references is quite similar. Your professors are familiar with your work, your critical thinking, and your communication skills. The added benefit of a professor, however, is a little more social interaction outside the classroom. I had one professor who invited her students over for frequent spaghetti dinners. We were able to meet her family, discuss topics of interest, and have fun outside normal class hours. If you find a teacher respect and enjoy learning from, the best thing to do is start participating in class to make a good impression that eventually leads to a great job recommendation.

Past and Present Employers
Due to your college student status, you may be lacking work references unless you spent your high school years working at a camp, waiting tables or bagging groceries at the local Foodtown. If you did hold a job in high school, kudos to you for being ahead of the game! Otherwise, pick up a part-time job or an internship now to gain valuable experience and help secure your employer reference.

Your previous employers hired you for a reason and, as long as you left on a good note, they’d probably be happy to convince any potential boss to hire you as well. Bosses can typically speak of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your integrity, leadership skills, and any other qualities you may possess. 

I’ve always enjoyed the saying, “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’,” and who better to explain how well you function in a group than an old co-worker.

Recruiters value qualities that shine through in athletics, like great sportsmanship, teamwork, competitive drive, and leadership qualities. So even if you didn’t play D-1 softball or lead your hockey team to a championship, a coach who can attest to your strength of character might make an excellent reference.

More on how to approach your potential references can be found here.

About the Author