Advising students on cover letters

August 15, 2011 at 11:49 am | Posted in Intern Advice | Leave a comment

Susan Sandberg

The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its latest data.  The number of unemployed persons (13.9 million) and the unemployment rate (9.1 percent) changed little in July. Job gains occurred in health care, retail trade, manufacturing, and mining while government employment continued to trend down. These figures can be depressing for students hoping their summer internship turn into jobs. Though you can’t change the statistics, you can suggest a positive activity:  Creating great cover letters to help students get interviews for jobs or fall internships.

  • Students could go to for Cover Letter Tips, There are also Sample Cover letters for a refresher course. You could also personalize your own suggestions, sending the following information to your students via email along with messages encouraging perseverance.
  • Use the same heading for your cover letter as the one in your resume (name and contact information) to create continuity between the two documents. Keep your cover letter to one page and not more than four paragraphs.
  • Focus on the company’s objectives, not your own. For example, in Paragraph #1 you might begin with the following sentence:  Recognizing (organization) as a leader in the (industry), I was pleased to find an internship posting for your company on My experience in computer technology may be of value as you engage in a search for an intern who offers diverse computer skills.
  • State why the organization will benefit from choosing you as an intern in Paragraph #2. (Organization) will benefit from a Dean’s List student and excellent communicator with demonstrated success in (input parts of the desired internship position’s description). Several notable achievements that speak directly to your needs are the following:  (Select three bulleted statements from your resume that are most applicable to the specific position and copy them into your cover letter).
  • Point out in Paragraph #3 why the timing is right for you to be an intern with that company. Having just finished my (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) year, I am in a position to invest (name time required by position, such as three months) in this internship. I’ve also completed the Intern Certification Program on, so I can add more value to your company in exchange for this career-related experience.
  • Close the cover letter in Paragraph #4 with a proactive ending. While my enclosed resume outlines my career progression, there is more to share. I will contact you next week to discuss the internship opportunity. I look forward to learning about the next steps in the selection process.
  • Customize each cover letter for every application. Read the posting on for the responsibilities and requirements. Then, check the company website to make sure that you have the correct kind of industry for your opening sentence. Then, wait for your phone to ring!

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