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6 People Fresh Grads Can Use as Professional References

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Joanne Poh

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It’s bad enough that companies only want to employ people with prior experience, even for entry-level jobs.

But it gets worse. Even if you’ve never had a full-time job in your life, you might still be expected to furnish professional references. So, you might ask—where are you supposed to get these references? Whom do they expect you to ask, your freakin’ parents?

Fear not. Here are six people you can use as references on your next job application. (Just make sure you inform them before giving out their contact details.)

 

1. Your internship supervisor

Assuming you’ve actually done any internships where you didn’t get lost in a sea of other interns from your cohort, your internship supervisor is usually your first port of call when it comes to a professional reference.

But what happens if you didn’t really impress your internship supervisor (hey, we all piss people off sometimes)? Then pick one of the following people instead.

 

2. Your tuition kid’s parents

When you’ve never worked full-time, anybody who’s paid you money to do a job is fair game. And if your internship supervisor can’t remember who you are, don’t be too afraid to put down your tuition kid’s parents as a reference.

You’ve visited their homes and heard them moan about the problems they’re having with their kids, which should make them quite familiar with you. And if the kid got good grades, they’re going to be very, very happy with you and give you a glowing reference.

 

3. The family friend you’ve helped out

Forget about using family members as references—your future boss is not going to be impressed if you make him call your mum. But family friends are fair game, so long as you’ve done something for them in a professional capacity.

Let’s say your dad’s friend needed a logo designed for his new business and you leaned in with your Photoshop skills. He can now be used as a reference, since technically you did work for him on a freelance basis.

 

4. Your boss at your part-time or holiday job

No matter how unglamorous your part-time job was, so long as your boss liked you, you can use him as a reference.

The nice thing about part-time jobs is that scooping ice cream or waiting tables is often more fun than a real full-time job, since you know that your life doesn’t depend on it. Part-time workers that are still in school and just working to earn extra pocket money look a lot less miserable than office workers at Raffles Place.

That means your boss at this job is likely to have seen you at your best—or at least, without a scowl on your face.

 

5. Your senior at school who was working at that company you interned at

Normally, your school friends aren’t considered credible character references, at least not at a job interview.

But if you have a senior at school whom you met again at a company where you did an internship, he was technically your superior on the job, and can be used as a reference. As an added bonus, if this is a senior you were actually friends with at school, you’ll probably get a pretty good reference.

 

6. Your professor

You must be glad you didn’t skip school that much at uni and that you’re more than a name and a grade in the minds of your professors. Because professors can be put down as a professional references when you’ve just left school.

Ideally, you want to pick a professor you’ve worked closely with—such as the professor who supervised your thesis, for instance. However, remember that no matter how many times you raised your hand in class, professors see hundreds of students every year. So if you haven’t had too many one-on-one consultations, beware as he might not have much to say about you.

Have you ever used anyone who wasn’t your boss as a reference? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.