Recommendations & References

Since P-P-T is a Training & Professional Development program for interculturalists and language skills development practitioners, we will not give official references or recommendations to any school, organization, or employer describing your aptitude as a teacher unless you go through one of our programs or we have an explicit written agreement.

This is a matter of professionalism as much as protecting our products and services. We want to give accurate recommendations, and we want those to whom we refer to know that our evaluation is reliable.

Please thoroughly explore these links before asking for a reference or recommendation:

Recommendation Letter Etiquette

How To Request A Letter

People-Places-Things Official Recommendation/Reference Process

To get an official reference or recommendation, send an email to the Program Director or the Director of Apprentices with the following information:

  • The name of the organization or or program that wants our recommendation
  • The date it’s due (ideally your email should come 4 weeks before the due date to make sure there’s enough time for everything)
  • A description of the kind of response required (email form, written letter, written recommendation form, phone call, email, etc)
  • If there is a specific person we need to name, put their name, title, and complete contact information
  • What are you trying to do with this recommendation (get a job, enter a degree program, etc)?
  • Why are you interested in this particular job or program?
  • What would you like us to say about you?

Keep in mind that most academic programs will take your recommendation more seriously if you have it sealed. You can also ask what qualities or areas would prevent your recommender from writing an enthusiastic letter. If you are wanting a general letter of recommendation that you save up for the future, please see that section below.

Under certain circumstances, we may ask you to ghost write your own recommendation, and then revise and sign it.

Ghostwriting Your Own Recommendation

In any case, we will write the best possible recommendation we can. If you have gone through one of our programs, we will not turn you down. But we will tell the truth, even if it’s difficult. Often programs or employers will ask us what your challenge areas are, and we will tell them about your behavior.  With these letters, we will tend to be more objective (above average, outstanding, sub-par) than subjective (one of our favorites). Anything that is considered an area to improve will not be a mystery to you, we will have told you multiple times. One great way to improve your letter is to ask us regularly where you think your areas to improve are – and then work on them!

Your Critique is Your Job Description

As for criticizing us – PLEASE do not fear critiquing the program or any of us as people, trainers, teachers or interculturalists – BUT – critique comes with responsibility. This is very hard for many people in the US to appreciate – particularly white,  college-educated people who love grammar.

It’s part of mainstream culture to point out others’ flaws – and yet, we’re extremely sensitive to others’ criticisms. And mainstream culture does not value supporting the person or institution we are critiquing to do the hard work of improving.  Got a million good ideas? Stand in line, friend – good ideas and smart people are plentiful. But people who implement ideas or go the distance to help bring another’s vision to life – those people are rare.

This is a training program: personal and professional development. We want to be better – and we want you to want to be better, too. So bring your honest critique, but bring your shovel and hoe along too because you just gave yourself a job description! Help us fix the problem you found and this will increase our respect for you.

Add to that:

  • a clearheaded self-critique
  • the determination to confront your own assumptions, shortcomings, and blind spots
  • an ability to support, encourage, and motivate others as they go through their developmental process
  • the capacity to appreciate others (and yourself!) 5 times as loudly as your capacity to critique

Do all of that, and you will get one hell of a glowing reference. But you probably won’t need it because you will be in demand.

Personal/Professional Letters of Recommendation

You can always ask anyone you want for a personal letter of recommendation! If you’re really wanting one and you plan to be with us for a while, tell us early on – “I’d like to get a solid letter from you someday – how can I do that?”  Keep in mind that a personal letter of reference is more about your character, and you should ask people who know you well, who like you AND who will say good things about you.  A personal letter from someone who has known you for less than a year will be regarded as relatively weak, but if it’s all you’ve got, go for it!

It can be helpful to ask if the person will write a STRONG letter of reference.  They might say no! Though that never feels good, if someone says no, accept it because it wouldn’t be a good one anyway.  If they say no, this might be an opportunity to ask if there’s anything that you could do to earn a better one. Sometimes, being able to hear where your growing edge is can earn the respect of someone and that can be turned into a strong element of a letter.

Personal letters of recommendation will not usually be on P-P-T letterhead, even when you are asking P-P-T owners or staff.

If the request is for a professional reference, you can ask for that from one of us if you’ve worked with us in a paid or internship capacity, or helped us out a lot by volunteering with one of our partners.  If you have sweat equity with us, you can definitely ask for a professional letter. Normally, a professional letter is written by someone you know well that you’ve worked with, someone who might have been your boss, but not necessarily.

Professional letters may be on P-P-T letterhead if you’ve been doing work with us in any kind of official capacity.

General Recommendations & Work or Volunteer References

A general letter of recommendation is one that you ask a colleague, supervisor or mentor for at the completion of your time working with them when you don’t have a specific program that you’re applying for.  These are usually easier to write than a professional or academic reference which will often have stricter protocols. It’s sort of like the personal letter of reference. Following the guidelines above will help though you may need to stay on top of the request because without the urgency, it can get deprioritized.

Work or Volunteer references – which are very often short phone conversations – do not require as much work for the referrer, and are very common – and the quality of those references varies greatly. They are considered personal or professional references, and the person on the other end is usually looking not as much for what you say, but a) whether the person is expecting the call b) whether the person is happy to speak well of you c) whether the person seems credible.

The busier and more influential the person is that you want to say nice things, and the more responsibility the job or volunteer project has – the more you will want to ensure that you talk to the referrer and prep them for what you want them to say. This is not only respectful, but the job will know right away that you didn’t prep the person, and this will not look good. They will also say the opposite of what you want them to say not because they’re mean, but because you didn’t let them know!

Contractors (including P-P-T Members who are doing paid work with our partners): All the above applies.

Former Employees: It is standard to just confirm the work dates and how employment terminated, and not give any evaluative assessment.