How To Write A College Student Cover Letter (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Sep. 1, 2020

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A cover letter is your first introduction to a potential employer, playing a major role in if you ultimately get offered the position.

While crafting a professional cover letter can be a task for anyone, college students might be wondering how to get started when they may lack work-experience. Even without years of professional experience, submitting a cover letter is equally as important for students and recent graduates.

The college cover letter serves the same purpose of providing a first impression, but with more focus on your qualifications from an accomplishments and skills standpoint rather than previous job titles. As you prepare to enter an ever changing job market you want to put your best foot forward. With a well-written cover letter, you can only help your chances of landing the job or internship.

Once you learn how to write a cover letter, you will see that it is not intimidating at all. We will highlight what key components should be included in every effective cover letter and provide tips on how to sell yourself.

College Cover Letter Structure

What you write in your letter to a hiring manager is important, but you also need to focus on the overall structure. The formatting for both a resume and cover letter is quite similar. Here is an overview of how to lay out your letter:

  1. Add your contact information in a header. At the top of your letter, you want to list out your contact information. This should include your name, phone number, and email address. Including your home address is also an option.

    Maria Smith
    215-888-5252
    msmith@gmail.com
    16 West Street
    New York, NY, 10001

    9/1/2020

  2. Add the company’s contact information. Up next you should add the contact details for the company. You should put the hiring manager’s name, company address, and phone number. Typically, this information can be found within the job posting or by doing some digging on the website.

    Tim Cook
    Apple, Inc.
    One Apple Park Way
    Cupertino, CA 95014

    Job type you want
    Full Time
    Part Time
    Internship
    Temporary
  3. Include a greeting. Your salutation should be tailored to the hiring manager, i.e. “Dear Mr. Smith”. You want to avoid saying phrases such as “To whom it may concern” which are not as personal. If you cannot find the correct hiring manager to address the letter to, it is also acceptable to use “Dear Hiring Manager” as your greeting.

    Dear Mr. Cook,

  4. Give an achievement-driven introduction. The introduction to your cover letter should be a way for the recruiter to get to know you right away. Discuss how your education has made you a strong candidate and what you have learned. Lead with a special accomplishment that relates to the position that you are applying for. This gives the hiring manager an immediate sense of who you are and is a great segue into the next component of your letter.

    My name is Maria Smith and I’m pleased to submit my application for Marketing Research Intern at Apple, Inc. I was thrilled to read this job description on Indeed and feel as though my education and skills are a perfect fit for this exciting team.

  5. Cover key skills and why you fit the job. With your introduction setting the tone, the next section of your letter should dive deeper into your relevant qualifications. As a college student this is where you can describe experiences or organizations that you were involved in that helped you to acquire certain skills. These experiences and transferable skills should align with some of the key duties that were outlined in the description of the job. Show your passion and why you want the role.

    This area of your cover letter should speak directly to why you want to work for the organization. You should express enthusiasm and a knowledge of the company. A tip is to research any notable accomplishments of the company, such as philanthropic work that you would also be interested in. Let the employer know that your personal values and goals align with those of the company.

    As a senior at Penn State University in the Marketing department planning to graduate in May with a 3.6 GPA, I have accumulated a broad range of skills in market research and spent over 150 hours compiling reports of various findings on different subjects. I recently conducted a significant focus group for the university, where we gathered feedback regarding the perception and satisfaction of campus life.

  6. Provide a call-to-action (CTA). One of the first rules of advertising is to always have a call-to-action, and when marketing yourself to a prospective employer the same rule applies. Be direct in that you know you are a good fit and that you would like to move forward. You can request a follow-up to further discuss your credentials and learn more about the role. This will be the conclusion paragraph of your letter, tying everything mentioned earlier together.

    As an individual who fights for inclusion and diversity, I can say that not only do your values align with my own personal ones, but I feel as though I could make a significant difference through the value of research on this team if given the opportunity.

    Enclosed, please find my resume with further details about my education and previous experience. Thank you for the opportunity to apply for this exciting new position and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Please reach me by email at msmith@gmail.com or via phone at 215-888-5252.

  7. Give your best regards and add your name. End your cover letter with a farewell statement such as “Best regards” or “Sincerely” followed by your first and last name underneath.

    Best regards,
    Maria Smith

Tips for completing your college cover letter

Even with knowing the perfect structure for your college cover letter, you might have additional questions on how to complete it. With these tips for writing a cover letter as a college student or recent grad, you will be well on your way to getting an interview.

  1. Do your research. Before you begin writing your cover letter, start researching the prospective employer. This goes beyond knowing when the company was first founded or the name of the current CEO. Find out what the work culture is like, what initiatives the organization has spearheaded, and what some of the current goals are. LinkedIn is one of the best resources for digging deeper when it comes to doing your homework on a company.

  2. Follow the guidelines. Sometimes we can get wrapped up in the overall picture and overlook the small details. When it comes to applying for a job, you want to ensure that you are following the instructions exactly as they are given. If the internship or job posting asks for the cover letter to be saved in a certain format for email or be addressed to a specific person, make sure to follow the guidelines.

  3. Provide up-to-date contact details. Make sure that you give the hiring manager your current contact information. This is a more common issue when the same cover letter template is reused, but this also is another reason why tailoring your letter is important. Clearly articulate to the hiring manager that they can reach you at any of the provided contact methods.

  4. Confirm the recipient’s contact information. We already covered including the hiring manager’s contact information at the top of your letter but want to reiterate that you should verify these details. You should also confirm the email address when submitting electronically. If you send your resume and cover letter to the wrong recipient, you will miss out on the opportunity. You can always find the proper contact information within the job listing.

  5. Add a subject line. This is a tip specifically for emailing your college cover letter. Every proper email needs a subject line that informs the intended recipient of what the message will be regarding. For your subject line, keep it simple with the position orinternship that you are applying for, and your name.

  6. Perfect your cover letter. Look at your cover letter and make sure that you have covered all of the basic structural elements. Did you start with a strong introduction to who you are? Did you highlight your education and how it has prepared you for the position? Will the reader be able to see your passion for their organization? Ask yourself if the hiring manager can get a definite sense of why you would be the best fit for the job.

    It is always a good idea to reread your cover letter several times and have at least one other person look it over. Many students and alumni will have access to career service professionals or counselors that can assist with feedback. If not, having a trusted friend or family member with a strong sense of detail is also an excellent option.

College Cover Letter Example

John Brown
123 Brook Ln.
Towne, MD
123-456-7890
Sam.smith@email.com

08/24/2020

Ashley Smith
Senior Analyst
456 Technology Way
Landon, MD

Dear Ms. Smith,

As a senior sports management student at Roothers State College, I was excited to see your posting for equipment interns. Within my degree program, I have been able to gain experience working with athletes across football, basketball, and baseball. I have been one of only four students to successfully complete rotations in all three sports in four semesters.

I have maintained a 3.8 cumulative G.P.A throughout my academic career, while also being active in several campus recreational leagues. I have found that participating in sports gives operations staff a unique perspective when it comes to working with athletes. This has also helped me to interact with diverse groups of people and maintain a working knowledge of each sport. I know how to organize, coordinate, and assist with all aspects of equipment management due to my experience.

It has been a dream to work for a professional sports team, but the Maryland Tigers is a franchise that I truly believe in. I have watched as the organization supports young players and always gives back to the local community. Being that I have also volunteered with little league teams, I know that the core values of the organization align with my own.

I am confident that I would make an ideal candidate for the equipment intern role. Whether assisting coaches with drills or maintaining inventory, I can be an asset to the team. I look forward to learning more about the internship and discussing my qualifications in detail. I have provided my contact details for your convenience.

Best regards,
John Brown

Email Cover Letter Example

Subject Line: Social Media Manager Application — Sam Smith

Dear Mr. Williams,

My name is Sam Smith and I believe I would be an excellent for your Social Media Manager position. As a recent Yune University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in social media management and a member of the Media Communications Society, I am an expert across several major platforms. During my time as a board chairman, I successfully increased engagement by 86% on Facebook during my final campaign to increase enrollment.

During my four years at Yune University I maintained a 3.9 G.P.A while holding leadership positions across several campus organizations. Being involved in multiple groups taught me how to not only lead, but also how to communicate effectively. During the time-period that I managed the Instagram and LinkedIn accounts for the university’s English department, I led a team of six other students.

I know that at Social Ink, collaboration, creativity, and social awareness are highly valued. Last year, the company ran a Pets Go Social campaign that raised more than $75,000 for dog shelters. This reminds me of an initiative I led across Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube that resulted in an increase of 250 followers and 25 pets getting adopted within 48 hours. I am passionate about getting involved in the community, and Social Ink would give me the opportunity to use my social media skills for that purpose.

I believe that my academic history as well as my experience running successful social media campaigns would make me an ideal candidate. I would like to further discuss my resume and overall qualifications in more detail. Please reach out at your earliest convenience regarding the Social Media Manager position with Social Ink.

Sincerely,
Sam Smith

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.
Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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