Gifting Recommenders

Once your recommendations are submitted online, how do you thank your recommenders? I find that students are often divided into two groups on this topic: those who wonder whether they should gift, and those who wonder what gifts are appropriate.

It’s important to show gratitude for the time and consideration put into writing a recommendation letter. After all, you’re asking a professor (who has had hundreds of students) to remember why you’re an excellent candidate. At the least, a handwritten thank you card should be put into the mail. This is a personal way to express appreciation if A) you’re on a tight budget or B) are not close with your recommender.


If you are close to your recommender (mentor, multiple classes with one instructor, advisor), then splurge a little. A personal gift means a lot. In the past, I have given a vase, scarf, and wine as personal gifts. Send something to be enjoyed.

Why gift? Aside from showing gratitude, it strengthens your relationship. You’ve asked your recommender to vouch for you, and while nothing is required in return, this moment gives you power to be thoughtful, and remembered further. You never know if you’ll need a recommendation for a teaching or editorial job, or even a PhD or fellowship program in the future. So nurture your professional relationships early on.


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