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 is 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 not find in your resume.
  • It allows you to demonstrate that you can be articulate in a professional manner.

Cover Letter Structure

View our sample before beginning to see the general format.

  • 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.
    • Do not just write a laundry list of skills — provide a narrative of how you used those skills that the organization deems important
    • Tie the skills you showed through your examples back to how it will be helpful to the employer for the specific internship position
    • 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 italicized font

Helpful Hints

  • Be sure to edit 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! Send us your cover letter when you are done to review it for you.