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Writing a Cover Letter in College

Writing a Cover Letter in College

Writ­ten by: John Lemp

Mas­ter­ing a Pro­fes­sional Cover Let­ter: Col­lege Edition

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Writ­ing a cover let­ter in col­lege can be a daunt­ing task, espe­cially if it’s your first one. Where do you even start? 

In the first arti­cle in the series “Learn to Write Like a Leg­end,” I will be dis­cussing the impor­tance of the pro­fes­sional cover let­ter in the employ­ment recruit­ment process. I am in the midst of apply­ing to a num­ber of sum­mer intern­ships in finance and man­age­ment con­sult­ing, and would like to share my style for writ­ing cover let­ters with fel­low col­lege stu­dents and young professionals.

As is nec­es­sary for all other types of writ­ing, cover let­ters require atten­tion to detail when edit­ing and proof­read­ing, espe­cially when using a gen­eral, multi-function cover let­ter that only requires you to change the address, salu­ta­tion, com­pany name, and job posi­tion.  For exam­ple, send­ing a cover let­ter to Mor­gan Stan­ley and hav­ing in the first line, “I am writ­ing to J.P. Mor­gan…” is the ulti­mate no-no, and most likely will lead to a rejec­tion of your application.

Cover let­ters serve as a way for you to intro­duce your­self to a poten­tial employer, demon­strate your writ­ing com­pe­tence, and pro­vide a means of elab­o­rat­ing upon a few key ele­ments of your resume. 

[SPOILER ALERT] — I cre­ated a cover let­ter tem­plate for your ref­er­ence — you can down­load it from the link below!

Let’s take a look:

Writ­ing your pro­fes­sional cover let­ter — 6 tips: 

  1. Find out the name and title of the per­son respon­si­ble for hir­ing in the depart­ment that is of inter­est to you.  Then, address all pro­fes­sional cor­re­spon­dence to that individual. 
  2. State how you heard about the posi­tion. (Ex. cam­pus recruit­ing, per­sonal con­nec­tion, recruit­ing web­site, staffing agency, etc.)
  3. Con­vey that you are informed about the employer / orga­ni­za­tion and knowl­edge­able about the job’s func­tions and responsibilities.
  4. Describe how your qual­i­fi­ca­tions and skills meet the hir­ing needs of the employer.
  5. If applic­a­ble, in your open­ing sen­tence, refer to a per­sonal or pro­fes­sional con­tact who directed you to that poten­tial employer / organization.
  6. In the con­clud­ing para­graph, pro­vide your con­tact infor­ma­tion (phone num­ber and email address).  Also, thank the employer for their time and con­sid­er­a­tion and state that you look for­ward to hear­ing their deci­sion and/or speak­ing with them.

For­mat­ting your pro­fes­sional cover let­ter, 6 “can’t miss” items: 

  1. Pro­vide your cur­rent return address.  The recruit­ing process for sum­mer intern­ships hap­pens rather quickly and you should want any poten­tial employer-related cor­re­spon­dence to go to your cur­rent address, not your per­ma­nent address, if you live on-campus.
  2. When writ­ing return and des­ti­na­tion addresses, be con­sis­tent.  For exam­ple, if you abbre­vi­ate the state name in the return address, do so for the des­ti­na­tion address.  If you decide to write out the full state name, do so for both the return and des­ti­na­tion addresses.
  3. For the salu­ta­tion, use “Dear Mr. / Ms. _____ : “  Using a colon is nec­es­sary when address­ing peo­ple in a for­mal, pro­fes­sional manner.
  4. Cover let­ters should be single-spaced, with one line’s space in between the para­graphs, salu­ta­tions, and closing.
  5. Finally, use a pro­fes­sional clos­ing, such as “Sin­cerely,” “Truly yours,” or “Best Regards.”
  6. Fol­low whichever clos­ing you decide to use with a comma, skip one line’s space and write your signature.

These tips will have you writ­ing cover let­ters like a leg­end in no time.  Best of luck to all those stu­dents seek­ing sum­mer intern­ships and under­go­ing the recruit­ing process right now.

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[AS PROMISED] - Leg­endary Col­le­gian — Cover Let­ter Template

The next arti­cle in the series will be about resume tips, so stay tuned!



Do you have any tips we missed? How about any ques­tions for us? We want to hear about it. Please keep us updated on your efforts in the com­ments below!

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