How to Request a Letter of Recommendation
- Always give staff/faculty at least a 2-4 week’s notice when requesting a letter.
- Only select people you have developed good relationships with, people who know you, your goals, and your strengths. Some questions to ask yourself if requesting a letter of recommendation from a professor:
- Have I ever spoken to this professor outside of class?
- Did you earn a grade of 'B' or higher in the course?
- Have I taken more than one course with this professor?
- Request a strong letter of recommendation.
- Provide them as much information as possible to help them write the letter; your personal statement, resume/brag sheet, background regarding the scholarship, and a recommendation form (if the scholarship has one).
- Be sure to thank them, possibly write them a card, or give them a small gift (such as a Starbucks gift card) for supporting you in your academic and career goals.
Bonus Tip: If you’re requesting a letter of recommendation via email, be sure to include the word “Recommendation” in the email subject line.
These tips also apply for whatever situation you are requesting a letter of recommendation for, whether it's for a scholarship, graduate school, an internship opportunity, etc.
Scholarship Application Tips & Advice: How to Discuss What Sets You Apart From Everyone Else?
August 11, 2017
The Scholarship Application
- Look over the entire applications before you start filling it out.
- If you can type it, do. If not, write as neatly as you possibly can in blue or black ink only.
- Do not leave anything blank, even if all you can put is “N/A” (Not applicable).
- Check your spelling.
- If you make an error put one straight line through it then write the correct response.
- If you are unsure of something, check it. Do not put any lies or misrepresentations about yourself.
- Always give yourself plenty of time to work on the applications and turn them in way before the deadline if possible because it makes you look more dedicated and you can then focus on other scholarships or homework instead of turning it in last minute.
- Make a copy of your application before you submit it.
- Clean up your social networking sites, remove inappropriate or immature material.
The Personal Statement for a Scholarship
Most competitive scholarships involve a personal statement and the prompt tends to be the same for most applications. Although it is important for the personal statement to be neatly written, grammatically correct, and as organized as possible, it is truly the content that matters. Write from your heart. I like to think of a personal statement as a written and more personal version of a resume. Remember you want people to pick you out of all the hundreds of other qualified candidates. Talk yourself up by showing that you are dedicated and deserving. Generally, the prompts allow no more than 500 words therefore you have to say a lot in a little. Make sure every word in each sentence is absolutely positively indubitably necessary - see what I did there? Don’t do that. Never go over the word limit, if there is one. Most importantly, respond to the prompt, don’t go off topic.
Some examples of prompts include:
- Please tell us what you would do with the scholarship money if you won and how it would help you? Discuss how the money would help by providing you with emotional and financial support to pursue your college education, which is one of your life goals, etc.
- What are your academic and career goals and/or your short term and long term goals? Be specific.
- How will your ambitions contribute to your community/how have you already contributed to your community? Give examples of any community service; mentoring, tutoring, cleaning up parks, etc.
- Who is your role model and why? This could be a family member, a famous person, anyone really as long as you are being genuine, your response fits.
*Note: Sometimes it is hard to write about something very personal, but often it is exactly what a scholarship reader needs to know to understand how brave, dedicated, and exceptional you are because you really are! It took me a while to write about my hardships, but with the help of high school mentors from the TRIO Math/Science Upward Bound program, Mrs. Joy Brittain and Juan Pablo Carreon, I discovered the importance of opening up and it has truly helped me write strong personal statements. It has also made me able to share what I have learned with you. The examples used below are my own personal stories that have made me to the person I am now that I hope will guide you in crafting your own statements.
For a strong and moving personal statement include (in any order):
Financial Need: Where to start really, the worst of it was when my father passed away while I was a high school sophomore because our home was foreclosed, my mom was laid off, and we couldn’t afford a surgery a family member direly needed. As difficult as these experiences were, I was also able to maintain a 3.75 GPA, eventually get a job to contribute, and dedicated several hours a week to applying to scholarships and grants so I could go to college.
Determination towards your short term (A), long term (B), academic (C), and career goals (D): Although my life has not been easy, I know with my passion and dedication I can achieve my goals which include graduating from A) Humboldt State (HSU) with a C) 4.0 GPA as an Honors student and B) becoming a professional Graphic Designer so D) I can be the in-house graphic designer for a non-profit organization that contributes to making the world a better place. Note: I wrote this before even being accepted to HSU and it has all successfully come true.
- What you’ve accomplished thus far (Internships/Work/Volunteer/Awards):
- Internships: Contributed my design skills to various non-profit organizations including the Armory Center for the Arts, Levitt Pavilion, Waste Less Living, etc. Include the number of years you’ve worked/interned somewhere and not only how this experience contributed to your life, but also how you contributed to the organization.
- Community Service: Volunteering for TRIO Math/Science Upward Bound, being a part of community service-based clubs such as Interact or Key club, volunteering at local events such as helping set up or being a part of community concerts, parades, etc. If you name a club or organization, explain briefly what it is as the reader may not know.
- Awards: Donors like to give money/scholarships to students who already have others backing them. I received scholarships from the PCC Flea Market for Entrepreneurship, Leadership, and Volunteerism, and received scholarships based on my portfolio to take courses at Art Center College, etc.
- Your inspiration: My mom has always put her children first; from working graveyard shifts to have time to take her children to work in the mornings to constantly encouraging me to do well in school. I am eternally grateful to my mom for pushing me to put in the work so that I can have a fulfilling life.
Please remember these are my personal examples, you have your own stories to share.
- Read up on the mission of the scholarship and/or donors of the scholarship.
- Have a clear introduction. You can use words from the prompt to make sure you stay on track. Establish why you want to pursue higher education (for you not for your parents.
- Show that you have given back to your community which you will continue to do so in college. Do not spend too much time on grades or classes you are (or have) taken because your transcripts already do that.
- Be open. Be honest. Be reflective.
- Discuss in detail what you want to do in your future. Keep in mind maybe you’re not sure or maybe these plans will change, but when writing a personal statement state it as if you are completely sure because colleges do not want someone who is indecisive. They want to see that you are confident and passionate. For example, do not write “I think I will be…” instead write “I will be…”
- Do not use two words for anything when you can just use one. Example: “I am constantly thinking about…”
- Keep your writing formal, no slang or colloquial language. Write out numbers “one” through “ten.”
- It’s very helpful to create a rough outline or “brain vomit” as I like to call it, but if you just want to dive in and write go for it. We all have different writing styles. Be true to who you are. Proofread it and have teachers or unbiased people in your life read over it, not just friends!
Basically if you focus on one event/thing that is meaningful to you and involves your background, family, passions, etc. then you should be able to create a great personal statement because you’re writing about something that means something to you and the reader will be able to feel that.
If you ever need help reading over a personal statement, feel free to email it to me. I promise to keep all the informational confidential as I understand it’s a personal statement for a reason.
Branding Matters in Every Little Detail Including Your Email Signature
April 24, 2017
Why Have An Email Signature On Your Personal Email?
- Keeps your branding consistent. As a Graphic Designer, I take branding very seriously. You may not think you have any branding, but everything you do is portraying and reinforcing an image of who you are and what you stand for, therefore consider using certain colors or font choices that you already use in your letterheads or for cover letters and resumes. If you have a logo or symbol you use to represent yourself, use it!
- Makes your emails personal, memorable, and professional.
- Helps make your contact information such as phone numbers or office addresses easy to find which saves the viewer time. Do not include your personal home address.
- Saves you time and prevents errors as you don’t have to rush to type a professional or minimal signature at the end of every email. Not bothering to sign an email, especially if it’s the first in a stream of emails can be interpreted as unprofessional.
Examples below: My personal signature and one I created for The Arcata Compost Revolution using the email generator listed below.
- Add your social media if it’s relevant to your work. If you’re an artist or designer, this is especially helpful.
- Put the links in the order you want them. For example, I begin with LinkedIn because it’s the most professional and I keep it up to date.
- Limit your signature to three or four lines of text, do not include a bunch of unnecessary information.
- Do not use clichéd quotes.
- Never include something you don’t want the whole world to see as you may send emails to your family, coworkers, potential employers, strangers, etc.
- Send a test email to yourself to ensure you like the way it looks.
- Do not include a legal disclaimer unless required to do so.
- Do not include a virus-checked message at the bottom of every email.
There are plenty of email generators you can use for free or pay for. However, the one listed below is my favorite and the one I constantly use because it is very easy to use and does not add any ads to it.
- Free Email Signature Template Generator Use this free tool to make your professional email signature template, then simply add it to Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, or another email provider. You can customize images, colors, fonts, and much more. https://www.hubspot.com/email-signature-generator#form-tab-main
- Pro Tip: I noticed this free email signature generator requires you to input your email, however, once you’ve copy and pasted it into your signature settings, you can very easily erase it from there as it is repetitive and unnecessary to include your email address in your email signature.
- Pictured below: Generic Example from the website.
- If you feel like exploring, there are plenty of other options: https://www.template.net/business/email/email-signature-generator/
Seeking a Summer Internship in LA?
April 10, 2017
Hello fellow young creative professionals!
As you may know, I was offered and accepted a full-time position for my post-graduation life as the Communications Associate at the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA (YAY!). Prior to being offered this incredible opportunity, I had a very extensive list of internships, jobs, freelance opportunities, etc. that I was applying to. I am sharing some of my favorite resources with you and hopefully it will help you with your professional aspirations. Please feel free to share this with others who may need these resources!
If you are in need of resume or cover letter assistance, I recommend going to your University's Career Center. If that is not an option, I also review resumes and cover letters as a pass time because I love to write them and am pretty good at them (just ask my previous employers).
Over 90 Los Angeles based paid internships at museums and art organizations for undergraduate students who reside in or attend college in LA. Go to their website for more information on eligibility and how to apply. This is a great resource for minority students interested in the arts!
Deadline: Varies. All internship positions will be filled by May 17.
10-week, full-time paid summer internships to eligible undergraduate college students. Go to their website for more information on eligibility and how to apply.
Deadline: All organizations will begin recruiting and interviewing in April and must select their interns no later than May 19, 2017.
Upcycled Mason Jar Re-use Ideas!
January 15, 2017
One of my favorite crafts involves giving new life to jars, first I wash them out, wrap them in beautifully colored twine, and place all kinds of beautiful or practical items in them. I often gift these away to friends, professors, mentors, etc. This makes a practical, thoughtful, and economical gift. I like to combine my passion for Graphic Design with my passion for crafts which led me to create an easy to understand info-graphic that represents some of the many uses for this upcycled product.
Graduation Pledge Pins
April 15, 2016
Putting together pledge pins for the upcoming graduation. The Graduation Pledge was the reason I chose to attend HSU. Once I heard how focused HSU is on sustainability and the community, I knew this was the university for me. The pledge reads, “I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work.”
HSU Elections Campaign 2016 - 2017
May 30, 2016
I was recently elected to be one of the Representatives for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. However, I decided to give up the position as I realized that my senior year was going to be hectic enough already with job applications, exhibition opportunities, family stuff, and everything else.
I ran because I wanted to ensure students are graduating with more than a piece of paper. I wanted to help create student awareness and access to service and professional opportunities that will help them outside of college, which is something I still actively do without being a part of Associated Students. I have also been to Sacramento and Washington D.C. and have met with State Senators and representatives to advocate on behalf of HSU, CSU, community college students, and high school students especially when it comes to the issues of student homelessness, cost of tuition, food insecurity, parking and transportation shortages, and many other issues that I care about and know other students care about as well. I've been lucky to learn a lot through my great college experiences and opportunities related to my aspirations. I want to use what I've learned to help others.
Transitioning to a New Campus, A Story of a Transfer Student
May 15, 2016
In efforts to be involved on campus and contribute something of meaning. I submitted this to the MultiCultural Center’s Cultural Times Spring 2016 Issue in the hopes that other students at HSU would be able to relate and it got published! It has also been featured on the Academic & Career Center’s Blog.
Moving from sunny Southern California to shady Northern California has been a dramatic change for me. I am sure that I am not alone in this feeling and hope some of you can relate, whether you transferred from a different campus or came as a freshman. I spent three treasurable years at Pasadena City College (PCC), the first two years of which I was determined to transfer to a private art school in Pasadena. However, while a student at PCC, I worked for the TRIO Math/Science Upward Bound Program where I became a Residential Assistant and went on several college tours monitoring the students. I am sure many of you transfer students understand that in college, we change our minds and for freshmen, trust me you will probably change your mind as well; whether it’s your major, minor, or what exactly you want to do when you graduate. Life is filled with many choices and the challenge is picking which ones are best for us.
Passing through the enchanting Redwood forest on the way up to Humboldt State University, I already knew my life would change. I fell in love. In love with the idea of transferring to Humboldt State. Upon stepping foot on campus, my desire only grew. The Admissions Presentation and the tour guides opened my eyes to a whole new realm of possibilities for me. Although, the thought of moving away from my close-knit family seemed scary and far-fetched during my last semester at PCC, it was also exciting. I knew I loved the campus and the weather.
As a Junior level student, I felt that I was expected to already know everything about the campus and not feel lost. However, being a transfer student, I was COMPLETELY lost! This is a new campus to me with new ideals and new customs. How was I supposed to know where I could print stuff for free? Where to go to pick up my Financial Aid check? How to contact my major advisor? Or any of my many advisors for that matter. It was not just the university I had to adjust to, but the city as well. Luckily, thanks to being a part of the EOP/SSS program on campus and while searching for a campus job, I quickly made valuable connections with student support services on campus such as the Learning Center, the Academic and Career Advising Center, the Latino Center for Academic Excellence, the African American Center for Academic Excellence, the Multi-cultural Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, and so much more. Learning about all of these resources and meeting all of the helpful and welcoming staff and faculty who help run them made the adjustment smoother for me.
I am now no longer lost and confused. I feel that HSU is my home and it is filled with people who want to support me and ensure that when I graduate, I will put my degree and my college education to use. For anybody who feels lost, all you have to do is reach out to someone and if they cannot help you, they can definitely direct you to someone who can.