Step 2: Compiling Your Application

compiling your application

Once you know where you want to apply, it's important to polish your application materials in order to present yourself in the best way to a propsective employer. The following section will detail what materials to include and how to format your application packet to make the best first impression and land you that interview. 

How to write a resume

What does a resume need to include?

Your name and contact information

  • Name, phone number, email, and address centered or left-aligned at the top of the page
  • Make sure your email address and the voicemail on your phone are professional


  • Name of university, degree, major(s)/minor(s), expected graduation date
  • Only include GPA if required by the organization, or if it is exceptional

Relevant Work Experience (Paid, Volunteer, Internship)

  • Job title, company name, location of position (city, state), dates of experience (month/year -- month/year), job duties, skills demonstrated in position, accomplishments

What if I have more space?


  • Pick only things that are relevant to the employer, i.e. languages, computer skills, lab experience, etc.
  • Note: Microsoft Office knowledge is expected. Only include it on your resume if the position description requests it or mention how you used it. Otherwise, stick to computer programs that are not Office.
  • Note: Separate skills into logical groupings, such as "Computer Skills" and "Laboratory Skills". List only concrete skills, not vague character traits, such as “hard-working” or “team-player”.
    • Character traits need proof, which the internship coordinator will pick up automatically from your job descriptions.
    • Having an entire section listing character traits doesn’t tell the person anything about you, and it just takes up space on your resume.

Relevant Coursework/Projects

  • Only include classes or projects that have a relevant bearing to the internship
  • List courses by name, not by number
    • If the title of the course doesn’t accurately describe what you learned in the class, you can create a new title that briefly summarizes the content, i.e. “The Circle of Life” could become “Intro to Biology”.

Honors and Awards

  • List relevant honors or awards with a brief description

Research Publications

  • Project title, where it was published, and when


  • List only if applicable

Helpful Hints

  • Avoid adding high school information (the only exception is if it is extremely relevant)
  • Aim to restrict your resume to one page. You may go to two pages only if all information is pertinent to the internship you are applying for.
    • If you only have a few lines on a second page, make cuts so all information fits on one.
  • Use a professional font (Times New Roman, Calibri, Helvetica, Garamond, etc.) in size 10-12
  • Forget the “Character Traits” section. It doesn’t tell the employer anything about you, so focus more on your experiences.
  • Bullet points make it easier for the employer to read your resume.
    • Writing in paragraphs may cause the employer to skim and miss important information.
  • Prioritize the skills and experiences that fit into the internship position.
  • Be sure to proofread! And be sure to have us look at your resume before you send it out.
    • We are the best resource to discover what kinds of resumes are successful in Washington, D.C.

How to Elaborate on Your Skillset

  • The point of expanding on your experiences is to explain the skills you learned and used. The more detail you can add, the more likely you are to catch the internship coordinator’s attention.
    • Many people fall into the trap of writing standard 2-4 word descriptions such as “Wrote reports” or “Dealt with customers,” which will be passed over by the person reading your resume, when perhaps they were very significant portions of your position.
  • Focus on addressing these areas in your bullet points:
    • Who – Who did your job help? (The company? Clients? Customers?) Who did you work with? (Colleagues, Executives?)
    • What – What happened with the results of the job? If you did research, was it published? If you had to do a report, what was done with that information?
    • When – When did this happen? Daily, weekly, monthly? Talking about how often you did something is an easy way to show productivity in your job.
    • Where –Where did your duties occur? Were you responsible for interacting with people outside your organization? Did you have to travel?
    • Why & How – Why did you do this? Why was this skill/task important? How did your job duties help or add to the organization’s ability to function?
  • Start each bullet point with an action word that sums up your accomplishments
  • Quantify your experiences if possible. For example, “Increased sales by 10% in 3 months” is more impactful than “Increased sales.”
    • Even if you can’t list quantities, always describe your achievements and how you achieved them, i.e. “Exceeded sales quota every week by providing excellent customer service and anticipating customer needs.”
How to write a cover letter

What is a Cover Letter Supposed to Do?

  • A cover letter is the first impression you will make on the hiring authority.
  • It’s a place for you to illustrate why you would be an excellent candidate for the job.
  • It provides extra information that the hiring authority can’t find in your resume.
  • It allows you to demonstrate that you can be articulate in a professional manner.

Helpful Hints

  • Be sure to rewrite the cover letter for every organization that you apply to —› this will let the employer know that you did your research into their organization!
    • You want to demonstrate that you know more than the average applicant about their organization.
    • Sit down with the position description before writing every cover letter and decide which of the employer’s desired skills you will discuss.
  • Use the same font and style for your cover letter as you used for your resume.
  • Address your cover letter to a specific individual or hiring authority.
    • If you can’t find a specific name, “Dear Internship Coordinator” is better than “To Whom It May Concern”.
    • If you are having trouble finding a specific person’s name, please feel free to ask us for assistance.
  • Keep it to one page in length – the hiring authority shouldn’t feel overwhelmed when reading it.
  • Always check for spelling and grammar mistakes! Have a second pair of eyes look at your cover letter to be sure you didn’t miss anything.

Cover Letter Basics


  • Your address: Upper left hand corner
  • Date: One space below your address in upper left hand corner
  • Employer Address: One space below the date on the left hand side
  • Greeting Address: Make sure you address the coordinator formally
    • “Dear Ms./Mr./Dr. Last Name:”
    • Use a colon and not a comma
  • Introductory Paragraph
    • Introduce yourself by giving your year, school and major.
    • Express that you are interested in applying for the position (be sure to reference the position by the official job title).
    • If you heard about the job through a personal contact, mention the person’s name.
    • Provide a brief explanation about why you are interested in this organization specifically and how interning for them fits into your future goals.
  • 1-2 Body Paragraphs
    • Explain why you’re the right person for the job!
    • Give 1-2 examples of related experience that demonstrate that you possess the background and skills necessary for the internship.
    • Don’t just write a laundry list of skills —› provide a narrative of how you used those skills that the organization deems important
    • Tie the skills for which you provided examples back to how it will be helpful to the employer
    • This is a space to greatly expand upon what the hiring authority can read in your resume
  • Concluding Paragraph
    • State that you are a UC Davis Washington Program participant and the specific dates you will be available to intern
    • Provide them with a phone number and email that they can easily reach you at
    • Tell them that you look forward to hearing from them and reiterate your interest in the position
  • Closing Greeting/Signature
    • Use greetings such as “Sincerely,” “Best regards,” “Best wishes,” etc.
    • Use a scanned image of your signature or type it in normal font
Choosing a writing sample

Writing samples are a potential employer’s first look into your writing ability, thought process, organizational capability, communication skills, and ability to support an argument from beginning to end.

Unless you are given a specific topic to write on for the application or the organization provides specific instructions on what sort of sample to submit, keep the following guidelines in mind to help you pick a writing sample:

  • Use a paper that you’ve already written for a college class
  • Submit a clean copy with no grades or marks

Major Areas of Importance


  • Consider the type of internship you are applying to and what type of writing they will require you to do.
  • For example, don’t submit a lengthy research paper for an internship that would require you to write briefs and memos.
  • Unless specifically requested, don’t submit any creative writing samples.


  • If possible, submit a writing sample with content that is relevant to the internship.
  • However, content is secondary to quality – always pick the stronger piece even if you feel that the content is less relevant.


  • Keep the sample to 2-5 pages.
  • You can use a sample from a longer piece of work – just pull out your best 2-5 page section of work and start the sample with a brief paragraph about the topic of the paper and the class it was written for. This will give the reader a sense of the context
    • If you decide to do this, be sure that you select excerpts that keep a sense of the argument’s flow through the beginning, middle and end of the original piece.

Spelling and Grammar

  • Be sure to double check for spelling and grammar mistakes!
  • We cannot proofread your writing sample before submission because it is representative of your own writing style – you must be able to reproduce the same level of writing if hired.
    • However, we can help you decide which of your writing samples is suitable for the application.
Reference list

Who Can I Ask to Be a Reference?

  • A reference should be someone who can attest to your ability to do the job, your professionalism, your work style, your performance, time management and punctuality.
  • References can be former or current employers, faculty mentors, campus staff or advisors, coaches or anyone in a professional position.
  • Family, friends and peers do not count as references.
  • Choose people that you have known for at least three months and who are well-versed in your background and accomplishments.
  • Be sure to ask your reference’s permission before using their name for the list and ask them whether they are willing to give a strong, positive recommendation.
    • Tell them about the position you are applying to and give them an updated resume.
  • You will need 3-5 references for your list.

How to Format a Reference List

  • References should be on a separate piece of paper from your resume.
  • Be sure the format and style of the list matches your resume and cover letter.
    • Use the same header and contact information as the top of your resume.
  • List all references in the following format:

Phone Number

  • Double-check that you have the most recent contact information for each reference.

How to Submit a Reference List

  • Different employers will ask for a reference list at different times.
    • Some may never ask for it, others will ask for it as part of your application packet, and others may ask for it after your interview.
    • If the employer asks for the reference list in an application packet, it should come after your resume.
Recommendation letters

You can use the same recommendation letters that you used to apply to the Washington DC Program.

If an application requires more letters of recommendation than you used to apply to the program, ask a faculty member or supervisor to write you an additional letter as soon as possible.

  • Try to ask at least three weeks in advance.
  • Provide a “resource packet” to your recommender in order to help them write their letter. This should include the position description, your cover letter, and your resume.
  • Inform your recommender of any skills or qualities you want them to highlight in their letter, especially if you have submitted a late request.
  • Some organizations may require transcripts as part of the application.
  • Be sure to note if they require an unofficial or unofficial copy of your transcript.
    • We can provide you an unofficial copy.
    • Official copies will have be obtained directly from the Registrar’s Office.
How to submit your completed application

Now that you’ve put together the best application materials possible, it’s important to submit them properly. Even though this is a seemingly small step, you’d be surprised how many people make mistakes while doing this! Getting this step right will impress the internship coordinator.

So, What’s the Right Way to Put My Materials Together?

It is very important to follow the organization’s instructions exactly!

  • Only submit the documents which they explicitly request.
    • If they need any other documents from you, they will request them at a later date.
  • Be sure the documents are in whatever format they request (.pdf, .doc, etc.).
  • If they want you to use a certain subject line in your email or to save your documents with specific titles, be sure you do this.

And if they don’t say how I should submit my materials?

  • Combine all of your application materials (cover letter, resume, reference list, etc.) into one PDF document.
    • Documents should be saved in the following order: Cover Letter, Resume, Writing Sample, References, etc.
    • Save it as: Last Name, First Name – [Organization Name] Application
  • In the subject line of the email, reference the entire position title and ID number, if it has one.
  • Write a brief yet professional email stating your interest in applying for the position, and that you have attached your application materials.
  • Include a full signature in your email with your full name, email, and phone number.

Helpful Hints

  • Proofread, proofread, proofread! Make sure there are no grammar mistakes in your email or in your application materials.
  • Make sure your email/cover letter is addressed to the correct person.
  • Ensure that you have attached the correct application materials for that organization.