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MBA Insider

How to source strong letters of recommendation

I recently returned from The MBA Tour India where I had the pleasure of visiting Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and Pune. The events were all very well attended, and I enjoyed meeting some excellent candidates in the region! I thoroughly enjoyed visiting a number of fascinating sites around the country, as well as sampling the delicious cuisine (and, of course, shopping!)

While in India, I participated on a few admissions panels alongside colleagues from other universities where I was assigned the topic of ‘Letters of Recommendation.’ For those of you who have not had the chance to sit in on an admissions panel this year, I thought I would provide you with a few tips:

–   What is important isn’t necessarily the title of the person writing the letter, but how well they know you in the workplace. At UCLA Anderson, we look to your letters of recommendation to help us assess from a third-party perspective your leadership and management potential, fit with the program, interpersonal skills and teamwork abilities. In most cases, someone you have reported to on a day-to-day basis can provide more insight into these qualities than someone higher up in the organization who may not interact with you regularly.

–   Prepare your recommender as much as possible.  Give them ample time to prepare a strong letter, and perhaps give them a deadline to have the letter prepared by. Provide your recommender with a copy of your resume and remind them of your key accomplishments.

–  Who to ask? At UCLA Anderson, we prefer professional recommendations over academic. Preferably, you should have a letter from your direct supervisor. However, we understand that sometimes candidates are not yet comfortable letting their employer know they are pursuing an MBA. Indirect supervisors (people who have overseen projects you’ve worked on, a manager from another department, etc.) are a good option, as well as former employers, clients (especially for those of you who are self-employed) and supervisors from extracurricular organizations.

Next stop(s)  –  Paris, London, Istanbul and Tel Aviv. I hope to meet more of you “on the road” soon!

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