I'm still working at my current job and will be done in one week. I'm wondering what is the typical way to go about asking someone to be listed as a reference on my future resumes while I'm still at my current job.

I'm working as a summer intern at a job to build up my resume; I've got about a week left of my job and I would like to ask my supervisor to be a reference on my future resumes. Is it typical to ask someone to be a reference by email, or should it be done in person?

I'm mostly wondering because it seems to me to be of bad form to ask him at work since it would be in front of other people whom I didn't ask/it kind of puts him on the spot.

Also, is it considered poor form to ask for the reference a week before I'm actually done? am I supposed to ask after I've already left?

  • 4
    "Hey, would you be willing to be one of the references for my job search?" It doesn't have to e any more complicated than that. If they say no, don't pressure them.
    – keshlam
    Aug 14, 2015 at 14:12
  • Thanks fort he quick response, but my question isn't really about 'how' to ask for a reference, but more about what is the typical medium for asking for a reference and the time frame of when to ask.
    – Nickknack
    Aug 14, 2015 at 14:15
  • I guess the title is a bit misleading, I'll edit it.
    – Nickknack
    Aug 14, 2015 at 14:22
  • 2
    I'd do it face to face if possible. Outside of that I don't think medium matters. Time frame is as long as it takes them to decide or until you conclude that they're ducking the question and proceed without them -- you're asking them for a favor, you can't put a deadline on it unless you're willing to increase the odds of the answer being "no".
    – keshlam
    Aug 14, 2015 at 14:24
  • 1
    I feel like this isn't a duplicate of the linked question as that specifically mentions that asking face-to-face isn't an option and this concerns an internship.
    – Lilienthal
    Aug 14, 2015 at 23:51

2 Answers 2


People usually ask their manager to be a reference after they've left because they don't want to announce that they're looking to change jobs. Since you're specifically talking about an internship it's perfectly fine to ask your supervisor while you're still working. There's nothing wrong with asking him in person, assuming you do it when he's not too busy. You generally only need a single reference for a job, especially if it's a summer internship, so no one should feel bad that you didn't ask them.

If you're worried about putting him on the spot or aren't certain that he'll automatically say yes (most intern supervisors should), I'd advise you to request a short meeting with him near the end of your internship. The purpose of that meeting should be to request feedback on your performance, ask if your supervisor can give you any other tips or what you can do to improve. Just ask him to serve as a reference when it feels natural or at the end of the meeting.

  • Thank you; I just wanted to make sure I wasn't going to do anything that would be rude or unprofessional due to my lack of experience. This cleared up a lot of my doubt.
    – Nickknack
    Aug 14, 2015 at 16:01
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    @Nickknack Don't worry, that's largely what internships are for. If you feel like your supervisor isn't the most outgoing person (and thus might not bring up a subject that could make either of you uncomfortable) you could even ask him specifically about that. Most people enjoy giving advice and would be happy to help someone get situated in the workplace.As always, take advice with a grain of salt though, not every workplace operates similarly and you don't want to adopt habits from a toxic workplace (though I'm assuming that's not the case for you).
    – Lilienthal
    Aug 14, 2015 at 18:09
  • Some places don;t allow supervisors to give references, and some workplaces want references from coworkers not supervisors. You should also consider asking a couple of coworkers.
    – HLGEM
    Aug 14, 2015 at 20:33
  • True, but you'd hope those companies would at least make an exception for interns. As for employers requesting references from coworkers: I've never even heard of that being a thing because coworkers can't really judge a person's performance properly.
    – Lilienthal
    Aug 14, 2015 at 23:49

Just tell them you go job hunting and ask "Can I put your name and contact info on my resume?" or "Can I mention you as a reference?" (whichever applies), preferably verbally and before you leave.

The reason for that last remark is: you are then in closest contact with them, which increases your chance that they say yes.

If they say no: "OK, fine, thanks"
If they say yes: "Hey, great, thanks!" and then you ask what contact info you can supply specifically: email address, telephone number, ...

Time frame: as Keshlam commented as long as it takes them to decide. But most people decide on the spot.

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