It is always refreshing to have young people, fresh out of high school, join a company work program in an office or on a manufacturing floor. Their brains welcome the lessons learned, and their eyes are wide open. Their ideas are often fresh, innovative and many times implemented.

For instance, a manufacturing plant in Mankato brought high school students and recent high school graduates on board to learn how to make windows and window casings. Depending on the piece of the window being assembled, there are processes, done either by hand or by utilizing machines. This may sound simple, but in reality, it is quite complex. This summer, a group of four young adults trained in on the company's semi-automated window assembly line. In a short amount of time, they had learned their roles and responsibilities so well the ”regulars” began to rely on the ”high school team.”

Even better? The high school team improved productivity 20% over the team that had been working the line before. The team earned the respect of their supervisor and coworkers for mastering the work as well as by the simple things, like showing up on time, working hard and overall being great interns.

Oftentimes after completing a summer work program or internship, employers are asked to write a letter of recommendation. It could be for a job, college admission, or a scholarship. Writing those letters may seem daunting and “canned,” but employers sometimes forget, or don't realize, how important they can be for the student.

The recipients of these letters want to not only know about the student's skills and abilities, they also want to read glowing things about his or her personality and character.

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Recommendation letters should always include your firsthand experiences and interactions with the intern or student. Almost anyone reading the letter would be interested to know if the student works well in a team, with others, on a line, or independently. The observations you provide are key. These details help committees understand the type of person the student is.

Recalling my childhood, if I had done something above and beyond expectations, my parents would say, “Wow, you have a lot of potential, and it is showing!” Seeing potential in a protege and sharing this information is another vital piece of a recommendation letter.

Being asked to write this type of letter is an honor and one not to take lightly. If you have an intern or student “learning the ropes” in your business, getting to know them and observing them is crucial. The letter you write could be the gateway for bigger and better things in their future. Remember the goal – to provide a letter that makes your students shine brighter than any others who may be competing for the same scholarship or spot at college. Let the committee or recipients know their investment will be a good one!

Kristen Asleson is owner of Midwest Virtual Assistants. Send comments and ideas to