The spring semester is underway, and the summer is fast approaching. It’s the time of year when college students are locking in their summer internships, which are vital to every field of study for gaining real world, hands-on experience. The internship search is an exciting process; however, you won’t get anywhere without a stellar cover letter and resume.
It’s an odd concept that two pieces of paper define who you are as a person to recruiters. Unfortunately, this is our reality as college students facing corporate America. With that said, your cover letter and resume need to be crafted perfectly to help you land an interview for a summer internship.
Cover letter: Introduces your resume—your first impression
- “Can make or break you.” Use this document to convey your personality. You also want to come off as passionate about the particular field of work.
- Explain the main reasons you’re interested in the company. Ideally, the skills you want to learn should be mentioned.
- Talk about three relevant experiences from your resume that are relevant for the job.
- End with a “Thank you.” Thank whomever you are writing to for his/her time and consideration. Also say that you look forward to hearing from him/her soon (this is a gracious, non-awkward way to conclude the document).
Resume: Lands you the interview. Be persuasive and perfect.
- Separate experiences into “Education,” “Work Experience,” and “Leadership Experience.” When describing your experiences with bullet points, focus on your skills that are transferrable to a new job—don’t focus on the details. For example, instead of saying “Worked on model of coffee demand from customers in three coffee shops over a three-month period,” say, “Built financial model to project demand of coffee in order for the company to optimize inventory.” See how the second one is more relatable to any company?
- Use action verbs in your bulleted points that describe skills you’ll use at future jobs. Focus on what you actively did. Good action verbs to use are analyzed, built model, researched, delegated, collaborated, worked on a team, coordinated, etc. Avoid passive verbs like helped, assisted, participated, worked on, etc.
- Type in sentence form and start all bullet points with past tense, action verbs.
- Be specific. When explaining your proficiencies, tell exactly what you accomplished and what skills you used. Avoid vagueness.
- Include “Skills and Other Interests” at the end of your resume. Here you can list computer skills, language skills and other interests (traveling, salsa, yoga, etc.). Resume screeners and interviewers like when you include some fun things about yourself. They give you more of a personality and help you stand out from a pile of other resumes.
- Don’t eliminate experiences from your resume unless they’re really not useful for future jobs. More is usually better than less on your resume because it shows you have the initiative to take on many tasks. However, you want to make sure your resume is readable and doesn’t contain an overwhelming amount of text. A judgment call might be necessary here.
That’s it! Follow these tips from Felicia, and you’ll be in good shape for a company’s screening process. As some last advice, be sure to triple check spelling, grammar and tense. Employers want to hire graduates with excellent communication skills. Chances are that your cover letter and resume will only get one glance, so a misspelled word could cost you an interview.
You only have one chance, so make sure both documents are spotless. Good luck!
Other resources for resume and cover letter writing and designing: