Cover Letter Guide
How to Write a Cover Letter
Your cover letter may make the difference between obtaining an internship interview or having your resume ignored, so it makes good sense to devote the necessary time and effort to writing an effective one. A cover letter should complement, not duplicate your resume. Its purpose is to interpret the data-oriented, factual resume and add a personal touch creating a critical first impression.
The audience of the cover letter is potential employers in all three of your chosen internship areas—not CAPA staff. While it is fine to share your eventual career aspirations, if your cover letter is specific to only one area, you will be asked to rewrite it so that it is applicable to all of your choices so that you’re not excluding yourself from fantastic, relevant opportunities.
Cover Letter Guidelines
- Length: The cover letter should not be longer than a page. It is advised to use 1.15/1.5 line spacing as it makes it easier to read.
- Heading: Start with your name in bold, 12-16pt font. Include your e-mail address under your name (11-12 pt font). This exact same heading, (including the same font, text size, spacing, underline, etc.) should appear at the top of your resume.
- Font: Use 11-12 pt font for the body of your document.
- Addressing the Letter: Use ‘To whom it may concern’. The audience of the cover letter is potential employers—not CAPA staff.
- First Paragraph: State what you are studying including:
- Major, minor, and any concentrations
- Your three fields of interest.
Avoid being too specific or focusing too much on one choice and never mention the name of a particular company. If your cover letter is specific to only one area, you will be asked to rewrite it so that it is applicable to all of your choices so that you’re not excluding yourself from fantastic, relevant opportunities.
- Second Paragraph: Give your reasons for wanting to do an internship in the fields you have listed on your application and why specifically in the country in which you will be interning.
- Third Paragraph: Focus on your strengths. Include relevant academic experience and relevant work/internship experience, and any personal qualities you feel will be an asset to your placement. You should be mentioning the skills you’ve gained and achievements you’ve had from your prior experiences. Try to link key experiences from your resume with personal experiences and qualities. Do not repeat your entire resume as the cover letter will be reviewed alongside it.
- Finish with a short sentence thanking the reader for their consideration and time.
Remember: do not be afraid to put positive details about your personality you think would relate to the professional setting. Only add them if you can demonstrably tie the skills to evidence from previous personal and professional experiences.
If you have chosen fields where you haven’t worked in before, here is an insight from the Harvard Business Review guide on writing a cover letter:
‘Because of the pandemic there is less of an expectation that you’ll be applying for a job that you’ve done before. “There are millions of people who are making career changes — voluntarily or involuntarily — and need to pivot and rethink how their skill set relates to a different role or industry,” says Glickman. You can use your cover letter to explain the shift you’re making, perhaps from hospitality to marketing, for example. Think of it as an opportunity to sell your transferrable skills.’ As you are a student, you wouldn’t be making a ‘career change’ at this stage but this advice still holds true if you are, for example, a business major and would like to explore the theatre industry for your internship. What skills and experiences can you demonstrate in order to justify this leap?
Do not be afraid to ask for feedback. Ask friends and family to read the cover letter. Ask them to tell you what you they think can improve and if your strengths as a candidate sufficiently shine through. For example, is it too specific or not specific enough? Is it effectively and professionally conveying your profile?