First, contact me by email, phone, or in person as soon as possible. Tell me exactly about the purpose of your letter. You can find my contact information on my official Bowdoin College web page.
Second, give me least two (2) weeks (preferably a month) in advance of any deadline so I can write a strong letter. Please note that I write letters ONLY for graduate or professional school applications, academic awards and fellowships, study away programs, pre-professional or academic internships, and post-graduate jobs. In general, I do NOT write letters for general summer jobs, camp counselor positions, etc. although I am happy to serve as a reference provided that you check with me first.
Third, tell me the purpose of your letter (internship, scholarship, graduate school, job application, etc.), your goals or motivations, and what you want from me as a recommender.
Fourth, include a short résumé or curriculum vitæ detailing your academic and extra-curricular activities, work experience, study abroad courses, etc. so I can add these details, if relevant, to my letter.
Fifth, include any forms (filled out in advance, please) and other material that you think might be helpful (personal statement, unofficial transcript, statement of purpose) to me before I write your letter. Also, please give me a self-addressed stamped envelope if I need to send the recommendation for you. One important suggestion: if you have the option to waive access to your letter, you should do so. Confidential letters carry more weight, and I will not agree to write a letter for any student that I cannot support.
Sixth, you should consider if you also need a general letter of recommendation. As of 1 July 2003, all credential file services, except for seniors pursuing teacher certification, will be managed by Interfolio. If you need to establish a credential file, contact the college's Career Planning Center for details. Realize that general letters come with certain advantages (you can use them indefinitely, or if I'm unavailable to write you another letter) and disadvantages (personalized letters can be more convincing), so plan accordingly.
Finally, if you need future letters, give me enough advance warning so I can tailor the copy I already have on hand for your needs.
Best of luck and keep in touch!