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February 4, 2013

For this week just call me Miss Manners.

I talked to my mom on the phone this morning and as she was updating me on her life, she mentioned that someone asked her to write a recommendation for an award. As she told me the story, she said “Mrs. Taper (name changed in this story) asked me to write a recommendation for Jessica for a leadership award.”

I asked her to repeat the sentence and she asked me if the phone was losing signal.

I replied, “No, and I hope you said no to her.”

Here’s why I would have said no if I was in my mom’s position:

Okay, obvious reason number one – you’re a senior in high school; I think you should be able to ask for your own letters of recommendation. I know it seems like a big scary world out there and asking someone to do something for you can be scary, but get used to it. And this is for a leadership award…I don’t even think the person deserves it if they can’t ask by him/herself.

So, I guess there are a few options now.

My mom could say yes and do it.

She could say, “Why don’t you have Jessica ask me?”

She could write the letter and include, “per request of Jessica’s mother,” showing the lack of initiative – and undeserving of a leadership award.

Maybe that sounds a little harsh. I semi-apologize — but only for the mean tone. Honestly, my best recommendation for this girl is to learn how to take initiative herself. The first lesson that you’ll learn in college is that you no longer have other people doing things for you. You are responsible for yourself.

This story disturbed me so much because of how I spend a lot of time and how often I see this happen. Anytime I apply for a job or scholarship or program, I need to ask someone to be a reference or write a letter of recommendation. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but if you do it correctly (and there are many online guides), there really shouldn’t be a problem. If someone is going out of their way to write a recommendation for you, you should at least be able to ask them…and don’t forget the thank you!

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