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Many graduate school students do not have much in the way of work experience. Their approach to writing a cover letter is going to be different than that of a more experienced working professional. They will emphasize their research skills and the practical skills they learned in internships, part-time jobs, club leadership positions and participation and volunteering. This sample cover letter for recent grad school graduate students provides guidance on what to focus on, what to say and how to say it.
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It is vital that your cover letter be specific to the position for which you are applying. Use the hiring manager’s name in the greeting of your cover letter. Mention the exact title of the position in the first paragraph of the letter. Tell the employer why you would be perfect for the job and how you can benefit the company. Insert information about relevant experience or honors you have received at the college level. Relevant means that something you did in college connects with a skill or qualification for the job. Read the job’s description for information about what exactly the employer is looking for. Talk about accomplishments you achieved in your college experiences, not on your responsibilities or job tasks. Use strong, active verbs to detail your experiences. For example, try “collaborate" instead of “worked with;" “served" instead of “was;" “earned" instead of “received." Also, include information you learned about the company through your research when possible. This demonstrates a genuine interest in and knowledge about the company’s work.
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Sample Cover Letter
January 12, 2011
3428 Barton Place, Apt. D
Corsicana, Texas 75110
Mr. Damien Reynolds
Human Resources Manager
475 Mockingbird Lane
Magnolia, Texas 77355
Dear Mr. Reynolds:
My name is Linda Smith, and I am writing to apply for the position of Research Associate at XYZ Foundation, which I recently saw advertised in the “Magnolia Tribune." I am confident that my background, interests and abilities are excellent matches to XYZ’s research department needs. My resourcefulness and persistence will enhance the efficiency and quality of XYZ’s policy and product research.
XYZ has recently graced the front page of “Policy Times" for its groundbreaking work in social research in poverty around the world. I believe that my social activism during college will benefit XYZ’s efforts to create positive change in the world. As leader of my campus’ campaign to alleviate poverty in the community, I organized and coordinated hundreds of campus volunteers to serve in various capacities such as unloading trucks at the local food pantry and painting older houses for elders in a massive one-day volunteer event. I also wrote monthly newsletters about poverty issues in our area, and distributed them by email to students. At one campus poverty awareness event I managed, I enlisted the aid of 30 new volunteers in two hours by speaking about the poverty problem in the city.
Research is a vital tool in social research. It helps us learn about what is negatively affecting our communities. In an effort to assist in this work, I worked as a research assistant for a sociology professor at my college for two years on a part-time basis. In that time, I was given progressively more complicated issues to research and weightier responsibilities, such as drafting and proofreading articles, for the professor as I developed and demonstrated my keen research and written communication abilities.
As a Research Associate with XYZ Corporation, I plan to work to find out more about the roots of social problems and possible viable solutions to them through research. Please find my resume attached for your review, as well as the letters of reference requested in the position’s advertisement. I will follow up by phone by next Wednesday, January 19, to discuss a possible meeting about this position. Thank you for your time and consideration.
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These tips and the sample cover letter for recent grad school graduate can help any student write a stellar cover letter that will help her land her first job after she graduates with her Master's or doctorate degree. Be specific and be relevant in what you include in your cover letter. Use strong and accurate words, and you will be on your way to getting a great first job.
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Quintessential Careers: Powerful New Grad Resumes and Cover Letters: 10 Things They Have in Common