Gifting your MBA recommendation letter writers

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

A solid MBA application requires pulling together the strongest possible elements that present your best self and your endless potential – choosing recommendation letter writers who can truly help you shine is key. You’re trusting two people to speak on your behalf and share why you’re a good fit for your target program – not a small task. If you need help deciding who to trust, we spoke about how to choose your recommendation letter writers in this piece (don’t skip the comment section).

One question we occasionally get in the DMs is around what to give to those who take the time and effort to put together a recommendation. Any gifts you choose will certainly depend on your relationship, but give what you’re comfortable giving. This shouldn’t be a big ticket item, but more of a thoughtful token of gratitude.

Here are some of our favorite gifts to give – please feel free to share your own in the comments:

leather bound journal gifts for MBA recommendation letter writers - Moleskine
A leather-bound journal or planner

For many recommendation letter writers, this is a solid choice. It’s useful, stylish and who doesn’t love the idea of a fresh journal for new ideas and their next big adventure? You can even personalize it for them, if you like:

A thoughtful gift of something they love

Again, this doesn’t need to break the bank, but if you’re asking them to recommend you, you likely know things they like:

  • Coffee lovers – get a gift basket or sampler featuring roasts or blends for them to try, or even a Starbucks gift card
  • Hot sauce aficionados – if they collect something unique like sauces or spices, this makes for a cool gift (it also lasts for a while)
  • For the eternal scholar and/or bookworm – get them a hardcover copy of a book you think they’d love – bonus points if you’ve recently read and can stick a note into a particularly meaningful passage or quote and why they need to read it.
  • Someone who loves travel – if you’re traveling (in a post-COVID world), consider bringing them something a souvenir to say thank you
candles for home gifts for MBA recommendation letter writers - Le Labo
A candle for the home

This will certainly depend on your relationship, but finding a really nice candle [set], especially during the holidays, is a nice way to thank someone for spending the time it took to write about your competence and ability to perform in a graduate program. Get what works within your budget:

A bottle of wine or liquor

Another gift that depends on your relationship, but if you have a client that you trusted to write your MBA recommendation, a bottle of their favorite adult beverage makes for a great gift.

  • If you don’t know their drink, ask their administrative assistant or a colleague you trust.
A handwitten note

This can be done alone or in addition to a gift, but either way it shouldn’t be forgotten. Thanking your recommendation letter writers with a thoughtful, handwritten letter is probably the most important part of this. Whether or not the action results in your acceptance, they’ve taken the time to think about you and put together a letter that aims to paint you in the best possible light as AdComs consider you for a spot in their program. Take your time thanking them for doing this for you.

Did you get your recommendation letter writers gifts? What did you give them?

Want to contribute to MBAchic with your own experiences choosing recommendation letter writers or how you made the ask? We’d love to have you share! Let’s connect here and get started.

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