Applying for a clinical fellowship is not the same as applying to school. You may be vying for the same job as people who already have their CCC’s. You’ll need to convince the hiring manager that you are worth taking a chance on, despite your relative inexperience. Your references can be the one thing that sways the hiring department. Here are 5 tips for making sure your references stand out:
1. Stand out in class (in a good way).
Think about what you want your recommenders to be able to say about you. Do you want them to say you were talented? Driven? You’re going to need to show that in your coursework. If your professor couldn’t pick you out of a crowd, they won’t be able to write a meaningful recommendation letter or describe you in a phone call.
2. Treat grad school like a long job training process.
Graduate school is your first real step into professional life. If you’re rude to your classmates, plagiarize on papers, or otherwise demonstrate poor work behavior, it will show up in your recommendations. If you’ve been late to every morning class for a semester, your professor won’t be able to truthfully rank you highly for “timeliness” (which is on many reference checks). If you show your professionalism in the classroom and the clinic, it’ll stand out in your references.
3. Match your recommenders to the position.
If you’re applying to a school, choose references who can speak to your language development knowledge, not your abilities with Aphasia. That way, when your prospective employer asks them questions specific to the position, they can answer in detail.
4. Know your strengths…
…and make sure your recommenders know them too. Every candidate for that job is applying because they’re interested in it. The fact that you “love medical speech pathology” isn’t a reason for that hospital to hire you. What makes you stand out? Can you empathize with your clients because you have had shared experiences? Are you able to learn new information quickly? Do you have creative ideas for therapy? Figure out what makes you stand out, and share that with your recommenders so they can latch convey it too. If you’ve written a cover letter, share it.
5. Draw from multiple sources.
Sure, you probably want references from your professors. However, a job wants to know how well you work, not just how well you learn. Were you an office assistant or a volunteer lifeguard during your graduate schooling? Did you work part time at a restaurant? A reference from your employer or supervisor can give great insight into your work behavior. Your potential new employer wants to know that you’re going to be a reliable, hard worker, and who better to tell them that than your current employer?