The job market is increasingly competitive, and earning a degree is no guarantee of a job offer after college. To enhance your prospects of employment once you finish studying it is useful to get an internship in the sector where you hope to build a career. An internship is generally unpaid, so you should think of it as part of your training. It is a great way to build experience in your chosen field and a useful way to spend those long summer vacations. A good cover letter will make your application stand out from the rest.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Word processing software
- Good quality letter paper
- Pen (blue or black ink)
Identify a number of companies where you would like to work. Try not to be too selective; it's wise to cast your net as wide as possible. Look for companies in the career sectors that interest you. Television companies, publishing houses, banks and law firms are just some of the companies that regularly take on interns.
Research the companies. It is important that you show some knowledge of the companies to which you are applying. You should also be prepared to give enthusiastic reasons behind your decision to apply. Companies will be more likely to respond positively to your application if you show some knowledge about them.
Think carefully about your qualities and what you would like to project. Your cover letter should not repeat the information in your CV, or resume. It should give context to and highlight your most relevant skills and experiences.
Open your word processing program (for example, Word or Open Office) to a blank document. Type your cover letter; do not write it by hand. In the top righthand corner, type your name and address and contact information, including your phone number and e-mail address. Move down two lines to the left side of the document and type the name, company and company address of the person to whom you are writing. Find out the name of the person to write to by calling the company to ask who handles internships.
Begin your letter. Do not address the recipient as "Dear Sir or Madam." If you have done your research, you will know the name of the person to whom you are writing and can start the letter with his or her name.
Write your first paragraph. This should briefly establish who you are and why you are writing. Use active sentences that firmly establish your ambitions, as well as your admiration for the company, rather than Do not use vague re write: "I am writing because," which sounds vague, . For example: "I intend to work in X field," or "It is my ambition to work for a company such as X". State your admiration for the company with specific examples.
Outline your current situation. For example, begin this section with: "As a second year student at X University," etc. Use this paragraph to outline your academic distinctions and perhaps more importantly, any extra-curricular activities that will show you to be a well-rounded and adaptable individual. Include any positions of responsibility you have had, such as running a student group or leading a sports team.
Write your third paragraph. Use this paragraph to talk about any work experience you have outside of college. This might be volunteer work, or a Saturday job in a shoe store. Whatever your experience, make sure you emphasise the skills you have developed, for example, serving customers or ability to work in a team.
Now write your final paragraph. Use this area to add any additional skills you think are relevant, for example language skills or driver's license if relevant. Reaffirm why you think you would be an ideal intern and that you are ready to interview at the employer's convenience. End with enthusiasm, stating that you are looking forward to speaking with Mr. _ in person.
End your letter with "Sincerely yours," or simply "Sincerely," and your name. Do not use personal or informal signoffs such as "Yours faithfully," "Kind regards" or "Best regards." Leave a space of a few lines before typing your name. Sign your name by hand (using black or blue ink) in the gap between "Sincerely," and your name if you are mailing a printed copy of your letter. If e-mailing the letter, simply type your name.
Check your letter carefully for spelling errors and typographical errors. Once you are satisfied that your letter is finished, all you need to do is send it. Remember to enclose your resume. You have now completed a great cover letter.
Tips and warnings
- Ask someone else to check your letter for errors; computer spellcheckers are not always reliable, since they do not recognise homonyms.
- If you are sending your application through the mail, make sure you print it out using good quality paper and a neatly addressed envelope.
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