Letters of recommendation (LOR) are required for most MBA programs. At Booth we require two, and strongly prefer that one comes from your current supervisor. While a generic LOR won’t hurt your candidacy, a strong LOR can provide the admissions committee with valuable insight into how you perform in a professional setting, work in teams, and think critically – all things we assess in the application review.
A recommender should be someone who knows you well and is able to speak objectively to both your strengths and areas of improvement. For your second recommender, think about asking someone who can focus on characteristics or projects that differ from your supervisor. A past supervisor, professional mentor, a client, or a colleague will add a different perspective than your supervisor, which is valuable as we evaluate your candidacy.
Before asking your supervisor to write you a letter of support, I recommend you think about these things first:
Get Their Buy-in. Earning your MBA means you will have another big priority for the next few years. If your supervisor is supportive, your time at Booth might be a little easier. I recommend meeting with your supervisor to discuss how earning an MBA aligns with your professional goals.
Let them know what an MBA can do for them and the team. Getting buy-in should include sharing what the team and/or organization will gain from you earning your MBA. Whether it is a certain course or concentration, your organization has something to gain from your time at Booth. In fact, our students are able to apply what they learned in the classroom the very next day at work, creating an immediate impact on themselves and their companies. You can also apply the skills you learn from the Leadership Development office, such as asking powerful questions or running effective meetings.
Give Them Ideas on What to Write About. Booth provides recommenders with suggestions on what to include in their LOR. If there are certain areas you would like them to address, ask them. If both of your recommenders know you in a similar way, let each person know what you would like them to focus on. This will reduce redundancy between the two LORs.
Ask Well in Advance. Make sure you provide your recommenders several weeks to write your letter. A rushed letter is rarely a great letter.
Say Thank You. Remember, you are asking someone to do something extra to help you. A thank you over coffee, dinner, or at happy hour can go a long way.
Selecting your recommenders is an important decision. We hope this helps as you think about who and how to ask.