Internship Series: Letters to the Press

We have created a four part blog series covering interns at Duke University Press. Today’s post delves into the most important parts of the internship application process — cover letters and resumes. If a cover letter or resume does not reflect a candidate well, the candidate will most likely not be interviewed or considered for the job. Interns at Duke University Press confirmed that their personalized cover letters helped them secure their internship positions. 

A cover letter creates a first impression of a candidate for the organization to which they are applying. One of the main purposes of a cover letter is to allow the employer to understand who the candidates are beyond the bullet points of resumes. This is the perfect opportunity to explain how you as a candidate are the right person for the position open. You are able to go into detail about parts of your resume and describe how you are qualified because of other areas of experience.

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When writing a cover letter and resume, your experience listed and discussed should directly relate to the job you’reapplying for. All submitted material should be unique to each company. A canned cover letter and resume could reflect poorly on you because it’s not personalized. Many of the interns at Duke University Press credit their unique cover letters that accompanied their resumes for securing their internship position at the press.

If applying for a job you are under-qualified for, the cover letter allows you to express what experience you have had without reaching the amount of years required or lacking a certain skill. You’re able to explain how you excel at the more important skills for the job and are willing to learn the skills the employer is looking for.

To gain more experience for a future position without having much prior experience, the Duke University Press interns emphasized the importance of volunteering. “Volunteering is number one. Being in the work environment, although you’re not getting paid, you’re still doing work. This makes your time more valuable and your ideas more valuable,” Charlecia Walton, a front desk intern, said. Sharing volunteer experience represents a passion for the work  you are doing to a hiring manager. Volunteer experience is sometimes easier to earn than paid positions. If you are having a hard time getting an internship or job, you might want to consider volunteering your time for experience that you can feature on your resume or cover letter.

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