How to Write a Great Cover Letter

By Sara Russell

As a student, one of the hardest tasks when applying for internships is writing a really good cover letter. You want be a competitive candidate without sounding like you’re boasting about your talents. Here are some tips to follow:

  1. ALWAYS proofread your cover letter.

The worst mistake anyone could do is accidently send a letter addressed to the wrong company. Employers say this often happens, but don’t let it happen to you. My Media Writing professor says that a good way to proofread is to read backwards. Read the last line, then the line before that and so on. This is helpful because oftentimes when we re-read our own work we know what we want to say and our brain may accidently insert words that aren’t there. Reading backwards forces us to look at the sentences individually to spell and grammar check.

  1. Say what you can do for them.

We can sometimes get caught up in telling companies how much we would benefit and love to work for them. They already know this, that’s why it’s an internship. Tell the company what you can offer them. This could include your extensive knowledge about a topic that relates to the company, or skills you have developed in class or through student media. How can you contribute to the overall success of the company? That’s what the employer doesn’t know about you.

  1.  Show your research skills.

To really make your cover letter stand out among the rest show that you are aware of the company’s recent projects/trends. One way to do this is to congratulate the company on its recent accomplishment. Or, for a news station, you could mention how you liked the coverage of a particular story. For an advertising/PR firm, you can share why you liked their an ad or campaign. Basically, show in your cover letter that you actually took the time to do some basic background research on them, and you appreciate their work.

  1. Focus on the positive.

I don’t have previous internship experience, what should I say in my cover letter? No worries, if you haven’t had your first internship yet! Write about your communication classes and how they have helped you become a strong writer, meet deadlines and work as a team player. Focus on your soft skills. They are important to an employer. http://jobsearch.about.com/od/glossary-s/g/soft-skills.htm

Finally, remember that your cover letter should tell an employer what they wouldn’t see in your resume’. Talk about what you are doing on campus that has enhanced your passion for your craft.  Whether it is Live Oak, The Pendulum or Win Stuff, you are learning skills that are transferrable and valuable at an internship. For more help with your cover letter, see our Communications Career Counselor, Marianne Brigola.

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