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Help with Résumés, Cover Letters, and Thank You Letters

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How to Write Cover Letters & Thank-You Letters

Writing Cover Letters
In today's job market, internships are almost as competitive as full-time openings. The increasing demand for solid internships has afforded employers the opportunity to pick and choose. What does this mean for you? Well, it means that you need to start approaching your internship search as if you were looking for a full-time job. That means doing company research and writing cover letters and resumés that relate specifically to your organizations of interest.

What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a brief introduction of you that should accompany your resumé when you apply for an internship position. Its purpose is to give the reader a taste of what's to follow in your resumé. Think of it as an advertisement of yourself. You are trying to pique an employer's interest so he or she will want to read your resumé.

Not all cover letters should be the same. Your letter should be tailored to meet the specifics of the particular opportunity for which you are applying. Since this will be the first introduction the employer will have to you, it is important that it is well written. No matter what your major, an employer does not want an intern who will not be able to effectively communicate with employees.

Cover letters should be brief. Employers will typically receive an abundance of resumés for both internships and full-time openings. They do not have the time nor interest to read a two page letter. Typically, a cover letter will have three to four paragraphs.

Try to personalize the letter whenever possible. Ideally you want to address the letter to an influential person in the department that interests you. If you send your cover letter and resumé to the Human Resources Department it will probably be passed around to several hands and you may never know where it ends up. This information will be important when it comes time for a follow-up call. If you are simply unable to find a contact name, Dear Sir/Madam is acceptable.

Writing the Cover Letter
Always type your cover letter and use a spell-checking program. If you do not have access to a personal computer or typewriter, use the computer labs on the Wilkes University Campus or visit the Co-op office for assistance. Paper for cover letters should be plain and refined, and should match your resumé paper. Plain white paper is acceptable.

An effective cover letter should contain...
  • your return address.
  • the date.
  • the name and title of your contact, the company name and address.
  • a greeting/salutation.
  • a body of 3-4 paragraphs (see below).
  • a closing.


1st Paragraph
Your opening paragraph should inform the reader why you are writing and the type of position which interests you. Inform the reader that you are interested in an internship and what semester you are available. Keep this section short and to the point.

2nd Paragraph
Your second paragraph should briefly discuss some of your skills that will benefit the employer in the internship and outline how you can contribute to the company.

3rd Paragraph
The final paragraph should express your interest in meeting the individual for an interview, at his or her earliest convenience.
 

Example 1


Mr. Bob Jones
Engineering Supervisor
ABC Company
1110 Success Lane
Wilkes-Barre, PA

Dear Mr. Jones:

Recently while researching your company on the Internet, I discovered that you are taking on a large-scale project in your Engineering Department this summer. I feel that I have the skills that would be beneficial to helping your company achieve your project goals and would like to submit my resumé as an expression of my interest in a summer internship with your organization.

As a junior Mechanical Engineering major at Wilkes University, I am proficient in CADD, AutoCAD, and Eagle Point and also have been introduced to systems analysis and simulation. Throughout the Spring Semester I have worked as an assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. I worked with Professors and assisted students with a wide variety of computer questions. I believe that I am a self-motivated and goal oriented individual and have acquired the skills that will allow me to be a strong asset to your company.

The enclosed resumé outlines my background in further detail. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you in a personal interview to further discuss my background and abilities. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to meeting you.

Sincerely,

Joe Intern
 

Example 2


January 12, 2000

Ms. Joanne Super
Business Manager
XYZ Company
0101 Diamond Avenue
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766

Dear Ms. Super:

I am very interested in pursuing an internship within your marketing department this fall and would like to submit my qualifications for your review and consideration.

Currently, I am a junior Business Administration major at Wilkes University with a concentration in Marketing. My coursework has provided me with a solid base of knowledge that I am eager to apply to the business environment. Most recently I have completed classes in Advertisement and Consumer Behavior. I completed several projects within the areas of market segmentation and market strategy formulation that I feel has provided me with an in-depth view of the issues facing marketing managers.

I am confident that if given the opportunity to showcase my skills and enthusiasm, that I will be a worthwhile addition to your staff. I would appreciate an opportunity to discuss my skills and how I can contribute to your organization in a personal interview.

Sincerely,

Joe Intern
 

Example 3



Oct 15, 2000

Mr. Joe Abba
MIS Manager
High Tech Inc.
New York, New York 10111

Dear Mr. Abba:

I am writing to express my interest in internships opportunities within your MIS Department for the Spring Semester. Dr. Joe Smith who is my Computer Information Systems professor gave me your name and informed me that you were in need of additional staffing. Please accept my resumé as an expression of my interest.

As my resumé outlines in more detail, I have gained a wide array of technical and interpersonal skills through my part time work and education. While pursuing a Computer Information Systems degree at Wilkes University I have become efficient in various programs and technologies including COBOL, C++, and UNIX. In addition to the above-mentioned skills, I also consider my self a quick study who is eager to learn. I believe my combination of academic coursework and enthusiasm can provide immediate benefits to your department.

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss my qualifications with you in more detail. I can be reached at (570) 555-0000. I look forward to meeting you.

Sincerely,

Joe Intern
 

Example 4



September 21, 2000

Mary Gadson Children's Daycare
1527 North Main Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766

Dear Ms. Gadson:

My interest in a professional career working with children has prompted me to forward you a copy of my resumé in hopes of gaining experience in the field of child psychology. Currently, I am a junior psychology major at Wilkes University. While maintaining a G.P.A. of 3.4 within my major, I have also remained active in the local community by volunteering with several local non-profit organizations including Habitat for Humanity and The American Red Cross. I have always had a passion for working with children. If given the opportunity, feel I can be a positive role model for your students and help you with the coordination and organization of daily activities.

I believe my qualifications and enthusiasm will enable me to make significant contributions as an intern. I will call you next to discuss how I may benefit your organization.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Jessica Smith


Writing Thank-You Letters
Finally, you have made it through the interview. But even if you think it went well, you should not just sit back and wait for the phone to ring. It is a good practice to write a short thank-you note to the individual(s) who interviewed you for the internship position. A thank- you note is a valuable tool that may separate you from the other candidates or serve as a quick reminder of your skills.

Why should you write a thank-you letter?
A thank-you letter demonstrates your professional courtesy. It demonstrates to the interviewer that you are serious about this position, and is a chance to show that you paid attention and understand the topics discussed in the interview. You can reiterate some of your skills that you feel will be beneficial to the interviewer and his or her company -- the squeaky wheel gets the oil!

Hints for Thank-You Letters
Send your letter within twenty four hours. Keep it short and to the point. Write it immediately after interview so the information is fresh in your mind. Address the letter directly to the interviewer(s). Write down names and position titles of people you met at the interview so you can address the letter to the right people. Complement the interviewer on his or her interviewing skills if you feel they conducted a fair interview.
 

Example 1



November 10, 2000

Ms. Joanne Super
Business Manager
XYZ Company
0101 Diamond Avenue
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766

Dear Ms. Super:

I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview for the marketing internship within your department.

As I mentioned in my interview, I am very interested in this position and feel that I can make immediate contributions within your organization. I was particularly intrigued by your plans for launching a new marketing campaign next quarter. I have completed a significant amount of coursework that focused on conducting market research and analysis and feel that I can serve as a valuable asset to your company.

I was very impressed by the entire staff within the marketing department and feel that this type of environment would inspire my best work.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Joe Intern
 

Example 2



November 10, 2000

Mr. Joe Smith
Business Manager
XYZ Company
0101 Diamond Avenue
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766

Dear Mr. Smith:

Thank you for allowing me to interview for the electrical engineering internship with your organization. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss this position and meet with you. I would like to reiterate my interest in this position. I was very impressed with the internal operations of your department and the expertise demonstrated by your staff. Please extend my thanks to Mr. Mike Jones, who gave me a very interesting and thorough tour of your facilities. After the tour, I came away even more enthusiastic about this position.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your time and courtesy.

Sincerely,

Joe Intern
 

Example 3



November 10, 2000

Mr. Joe Smith
Business Manager
XYZ Radio
1400 Broadway
New York, NY 18717

Dear Mr. Smith:

It was a pleasure meeting you to interview for a summer internship within your public relations department at XYZ Radio. Thank you for taking time out of your hectic schedule to discuss possible opportunities with me.

I was very excited about the intern responsibilities that we discussed and feel that my involvement with the Wilkes University Radio Station has prepared me for the challenges that I would meet as an intern at your station.

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future. If you would like further information, please feel free to call me.

Sincerely,

Joe Intern

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