How to get a Positive Job Reference


Summer is winding down and classes are only a couple weeks away, which means many students are leaving their summer jobs and internships to go back to school. Before the summer is over, however, students should consider requesting a reference from their employer.

For most employers, hiring an entry-level employee is a leap of faith. Without much of a workplace track record to judge by, employers are forced to depend on what fits on a piece of paper (a resume) and whatever can be gleaned from brief first impressions (interviews).

Is it any wonder that many entry-level job applicants from comparable schools and backgrounds are indistinguishable?

A few glowing job references can set a candidate apart from the crowd. Knowing that, how should a job seeker build out a killer roster of references? Here are seven key tips for putting together a top-notch reference list. These apply to first-time job seekers, but also to anyone who’s getting ready for the next move in their career.

1. Look for ways to cultivate your references. Check in regularly. Keep them up-to-date on your career successes. Talk to them about where you want to take your career. Not only will you build a base of supporters you can rely on for guidance, you will also have a group of people to turn to with confidence when you’re gunning for the job you want.


2. Get a sense of what your references are likely to say about you, especially your areas for improvement. This can be slightly tricky, but it’s doable. Ideally, your references are people you’ve gotten feedback from in the past, so you should have a feel for what they’ll say. To get clarity, it’s important to test your assumptions. It comes down to having a candid conversation with the people you’re planning to use as job references. Try to talk in a more casual, informal setting – at lunch or over a cup of coffee. Explain to them why you’d appreciate their help, and ask them to share their honest perspective on how they would talk about you during a reference check. Most times, references will be flattered by your request.

3. Don’t be afraid to serve as your own strongest advocate. It’s important to make sure that your professors, managers and other potential references know about your capabilities so that they can speak clearly with potential employers about you and your work. While this step is important, don’t be too aggressive when doing it.


4. Don’t hesitate to show off your strengths in the classroom and the workplace. Job references need to see what you can do, so they can tell prospective employers about it. Look for opportunities to demonstrate progress and smart work, so others can observe it. This doesn’t mean you should be a shameless self-promoter. It’s important to share how confident you are, but do so while acting with a sense of humility. Still, if no one knows what you can accomplish, no one can tell your future managers why they should hire you.


5. Let your references know that they might be called upon and have their current contact information. If your references are readily available when an employer asks for them, it indicates that you’ve informed and prepared them to take a call or an online request – all good signs that you’re someone who is focused, thorough and motivated.

6. In addition to professors, try to have some former managers as references, even if they’re from internships. Input from people who have seen you perform in the workplace counts for a lot. Professors are great – and you should use them – but employers are thinking about how you’re going to perform once you’re walking through their doors. Feedback from managers at internships, summer jobs, work study or any other kind of employment is key.


7. Be grateful – and show it. Your references are doing you a favor. They’re going out of their way to help you build your future. And they’re putting their own reputation and credibility on the line when they vouch for you. Be sure to thank them. A hand-written note or a warmly worded email can mean a lot. At the same time, these are folks whom you may want to ask for help again. Use the opportunity of thanking them to keep cultivating the relationship and to ask what you can do to help them in the future.

So, whether you’re a college senior or someone getting ready to look for that next job, don’t lose track of your references. Good references don’t just happen. Your reference roster has to be cared for, nurtured and maintained. High-quality job references can make the difference between getting that job or wondering why your phone isn’t ringing.


Article by Ray Bixler on March 11, 2016, 9:03 AM ET

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Christopher Newport University and the CNU Center for Career Planning hold no rights on this article.

Meghan’s Summer Internship Post #4

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Where am I Living:  I’m living in Rappahannock River Hall! There are some other interns who live in the building as well!

What Do I Do for Fun:  Living in Newport News this summer has allowed me to enjoy activities that I don’t have time for during the school year. I’ve walked the entire Noland Trail, spent the day in downtown Norfolk, gone to several Farmer’s Markets, spent the day in Colonial Williamsburg, gone to Water Country USA, and perused the Williamsburg Outlets. You can find me at Busch Gardens sometimes on my days off! I also cannot lie; I have spent a majority of my summer watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix.

Have You Gone to Any Restaurants: Yes! I’ve been to a few on Granby Street in Norfolk, and The Cheese Shop and Pita Pit in Williamsburg.  I spent a lot of time at Busch Gardens during their Food & Wine Festival in June where I got to try a multitude of dishes from different countries.

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Madison’s Summer Internship Post #4

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Where am I living: I’ve had a pretty cool living experience this summer. I’ve gotten to live with my Sorority Big Sister here in New York, which has been awesome because we hadn’t gotten to see each other much since she graduated. I split my weeks and weekends between Long Island and Brooklyn. My Big Sister was in the process of moving while I was staying with her this summer. This allowed for exploring on the weekends and calm work weeks.

What do I do for fun/ What restaurants am I enjoying: Luckily for me, my internship facility has a gym on site so I would often go to the gym after work. The first two weeks I saw Florence and the Machine at the Barclay center and Ellie Goulding at the world famous Madison Square Garden. Two amazing concerts,  they were seriously life changing. In addition to finding great entertainment in New York, I love trying new food places. Brooklyn has phenomenal brunch spots and hidden gems.

In fact, fellow intern blogger Kacie Celli and I met up in Brooklyn last week and met for the first time over a Disco Brunch at a whimsical hot spot called House of Yes. We hit it off over avocado toast, it just goes to show you that no matter where you are in the world, you’ll always find a friendly Captain to help you on your way.

In addition to brunchin’, hunting down Facebook famous favorite like Rainbow bagels, I’ve spent my time going to art museums such as the Whitney were I saw amazing art works, night clubs where I’ve danced the night away, roof top socials were I’ve met aspiring actors and artists, thrifting where I scored the greatest long skirt with pockets, and hunting for great street art. That’s one great thing about New York, street art is everywhere and there are even some famous artists among the mix. I had a small freak out in Little Italy when I recognized some Invader pieces from my Media Aesthetics class this past spring. In the words of my Little Sorority Sister, my “Instagram game has seriously increased since going to New York”, mostly due to all the cool things around me!

Of course I saw a few Broadway shows, got Pizza whenever and wherever I could, and attempted to learn the subway, oh I chopped my hair off too, the heat up here is worse than the Virginia Humidity when you have no AC. I crossed off my childhood bucket list and went to the Alice and Wonderland Statue in Central Park. I’ve got a few more weekends left in New York. I’m hoping to play tourist one weekend and go to the Empire State building, Brooklyn Bridge and things like that. We shall see what else I can cram in!

Rio Olympic Athletes With Surprising Day Jobs


When they’re not competing for gold in Rio, these Olympic athletes may be helping you pick out shoes or delivering your mail.

The journey towards international athletic glory can be a very expensive enterprise. Dozens of Olympic hopefuls have GoFundMe pages, turning to crowdfunding to help pay the bills as they train to be the best in the world in their events.

Here is a round-up of six Olympians in Rio who have funded their quest for a gold medal and paid their bills with the most unexpected day jobs.

Raheleh Asemani

media_xll_8359491Asemani, 27, was born in Iran and fled to Belgium three years ago, and was originally slated to compete on this year’s International Olympic Committee’s refugee team, but announced that she gained Belgian citizenship this April and will be competing in tae kwon do for Belgian’s Olympic team, according to The Associated Press.

When Asemani is not training or competing, she works as a postwoman, delivering mail house to house, she told the Rio 2016 official blog.

Nathalie Marchino

In addition to being an Olympic rugby player, Marchino, 35, also works in sales at the tech giant Twitter, according to ESPN.

“Juggling work and rugby has been part of my reality for so long that I’ve just accepted that it is that way,” Marchino told ESPN. “However, going to the Games would make it all worth it.”r85713_800x450_16-9

Marchino will compete for Colombia, the country where she was born and where her mother is from. She is taking a five-month leave of absence from Twitter in order to compete in Rio, and manage her work-Olympics balance, she told ESPN.

Miles Chamley-Watson

IMG_5147_largeThis London-born American fencer who competed for Team USA in the 2012 Olympics also works as a high fashion model, walking the runway for Ralph Lauren and others fashion houses.

Chamley-Watson, 26, is also a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, and currently lives in New York City.

Stephen Mozia

stephenmozia20thcommonwealthgamesathleticslqawknlksptlMozia, 22, is an American-born shot-putter who will compete in Rio for Nigeria. On top of throwing at an Olympic level, Mozia also graduated from Cornell University with an engineering degree. He told the shot-putting website Throwaholics that he works at Emerson Electric as a sales support engineer, in addition to being an Olympic thrower.


Kazuki Yazawa

15528739Yazawa, 27, has developed the kind of mental toughness necessary for the fierce competition of an Olympic athlete. The Japanese slalom canoeist with a shaved head also moonlights as a novice Buddhist priest at the Zenkoji Daikanjin Temple in Nagano, Japan, according to The Japan Times.


Jeremy Taiwo

7574149_1450212759_1524Taiwo, 26, an American decathlete, is one of the Team USA athletes who works at Dick’s Sporting Goods, helping shoppers pick out shoes and gear.

Dick’s has a program specifically tailored towards Olympic hopefuls, offering flexibility and support for athletes training for the Games, the retailer announced in a statement last year.


We wish the best of luck to these weekday warriors in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Make sure to watch the Opening Ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Friday, August 5th at 7:30pm. GO WORLD!


Article is by Catherine Thorbecke on August 2nd 2015, 4:16 AM ET

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Christopher Newport University and the CNU Center for Career Planning hold no rights on this article.



Laurent’s Summer Internship Post #4


Where Am I Living: I am staying temporarily in Tysons Corner with some family friends. My commute to work is about 15 to 20 minutes.

What do I do for fun/ What restaurants am I enjoying: I also have an older cousin a few years older than who lives nearby so I often hang out with her and her friends, usually checking out different oriental food spots and happy hours.