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How To Choose The Best Reference

Posted by Cherish Germaine on 1/6/16 3:58 PM

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References. It seems to me that everywhere you look (job applications, college applications, any type of application — even to volunteer abroad!) you need at least three good references. Who do you ask? 

If you have no idea who to put down, or who to have write you a letter of recommendation, then you're in luck. We've brainstormed and made a list of the best reference ideas to help you shine bright throughout the application process. 

Speak of application processes — here's how to apply to come live in Thailand or spend a semester volunteering in Europe (sounds dreamy, right?) 

Choosing good references can be difficult, but here are a few good options to get your own ideas flowing, when trying to decide who to use as a reference.

  • Religious Leaders
  • Educators 
  • Current/Past Employers

Religious Leaders

Many times, religious leaders are "go to" people to receive a good reference from. Lots of times, the LDS volunteers who are traveling and making a difference with ILP (International Language Programs) are college students who are moving around a lot and may not know their leadership that well. 

If that's the case, we suggest setting up a get-to-know-you meeting or get in contact with a religious leader you do know well. 

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If you are active in a church community, a preacher, youth leader, or other religious volunteer coordinator that you have worked with will usually be willing to give you a good reference.

If you aren't religious, then no worries; there are other options available.


Past or current high school teachers, team coaches, guidance counselors, college professors, scout leaders, club advisers, musical intrument teachers, coaches — these are all good options for a reference.

Look at your life and see if you can find adult leaders you've worked closely with in the past.

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Current Or Past Employers

Current or past employers, that you have a good relationship with, make great references. Employers will be able to tell about your work ethic, dependability, and attitude. These are usually important aspects that application viewers look at, and knowing that your references will be able to give a good report can give you peace of mind.

 If you have not had a "formal" boss, people who have informally hired you for babysitting, lawn care, house cleaning, are a solid choice.  They know you personally and trust you. 

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A Few Things To Keep In Mind

No matter who you decide to pick as references,  make sure you have a good relationship with them. Obviously you want to make sure you pick someone who will say positive things about you, and who you have had a positive experience with.

Also, make sure to tell them that you are going to use them as a reference.   Sharing your excitement about your ILP adventure, job opportunity or college opportunity, and their important role as a reference, will help make sure they are prepared for when they receive that phone call asking questions about you.

Ready to put you new knowledge to use? ILP volunteers need a couple of references before they can travel the world, make a difference by teaching English and get the chance to live in a foreign country — get your questions answered here!

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