A cover letter for your first professional position after graduation should highlight both your academic experiences and your past work experience if you have it. Include your academic concentration, especially if it's relevant to the position you're applying for, along with your personal experience. If you have held leadership roles in college, volunteer, or community organizations, these should also be mentioned since they will help to demonstrate your self-motivation, work ethic, team-building talents, and organizational skills.
Cover Letter Challenges for College Seniors
How do you build a convincing cover letter when you have little or no work experience? The trick is to first list the qualifications and/or requirements that are defined in the description of the job you’re applying for. Take, for example, a job description like this example for an entry-level position in an art gallery. As you read a job description, bold-face the most essential skills it lists. You’ll want to respond directly to these in your cover letter.
Example Job Description
“We are seeking an entry-level Gallery / Marketing Assistant to provide world-class customer service to our patrons at our gallery shop in Saratoga Springs’ dynamic Beekman Street Art District. You must also be willing to perform basic administrative tasks as warranted.
RESPONSIBILITIES: This full time (40 hour a week) role, M–F 9 AM–5:00 PM, will include the following duties and responsibilities:
- Coordinate and lead engaging client tours and art shows
- Processing customer orders and arranging for purchase shipment
- Research and post SEO-enhanced blog posts and artwork descriptions on our website
- Perform general clerical duties, including phone reception, filing, and copying
- Providing general assistance to rest of staff
- A B.A. or B.F.A. in Fine Arts or Museum Studies preferred.
- Demonstrated ability to multitask and remain flexible with changing priorities
- Must be able to work well under pressure and be a team player within a fast-paced environment
- Excellent organization, communication, and customer service skills
- Excellent computer skills in Microsoft Office Suite and WordPress
Analyze and Respond to the Job Description
After analyzing the description, it’s time to list examples of how you meet these qualifications and requirements. From the text of this description, it’s clear that this will be a customer-facing position, so you’ll have to demonstrate in your cover letter that you’re a “people person” and “team player” who has experience communicating one-on-one with strangers.
You’ll also need to describe any web content/blogging and clerical/administrative experience you have. If you have no professional work experience, then think of examples where you have used these skills as a community volunteer, a club member, or during your academic training.
How to Structure Your Cover Letter
1. Opening paragraph: Introduce yourself, specify the job you're applying for, state how you learned about it, and mention whether a personal connection referred you.
2. Second paragraph: Establish an immediate connection between yourself and the employer by proving that you’ve taken the time to research their organization in depth. Read the company's blog posts; research their social media presence and news releases. Then use this information in a statement or two that shows you’ve done your homework and expresses your enthusiasm for the organization.
3. Third paragraph: State how your personal traits and experiences meet the specific job requirements, using short anecdotes and examples (preferable quantified with numbers or percentages) to illustrate the special expertise that will distinguish you from your competition.
4. Fourth paragraph: Thank the hiring manager for their consideration, reiterate your enthusiasm for the job, and ask that they respond to your application.
Sample Cover Letter for a College Senior
This is an example of a cover letter for a college senior. Download the college senior cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Sample Cover Letter for a College Senior (Text Version)
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
September 1, 2018
Director, Human Resources
New Age Gallery
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
Dear Mr. Lee,
As a graduating senior from ABC University’s Museum Studies Department (with a minor in Marketing), I was excited to discover your May 25th posting on jobs.com for a Gallery / Marketing Assistant at New Age Gallery.
Saratoga Springs’ Beekman Street art scene is one of the most exciting venues in New York – several our artists in residence at ABC University have shown there, and Amy Renoir in particular speaks highly of her experience coordinating her well-received “Memories in Black” exhibition at New Age Gallery in 20xx. My goal in gaining my degree in Museum Studies has always been to promote the contemporary art scene, and I can think of no place better to launch my career than at New Age Gallery.
Academically, my extensive coursework as an honors student in Museum Studies has enabled me to gain an understanding of how exhibits are coordinated and marketed. As part of my capstone Arts Management course, I worked as an intern for the ABC University Museum. My responsibilities in this role included conducting gallery tours, manning the reception desk and answering phones, creating effective promotions (within a tight deadline) for an upcoming exhibition, and changing out art descriptions on their website. I also coordinated a “meet and greet” happy hour with local artists Mike Angelo, R. M. Brandt, and Hal Bein that raised more than $8000 for our “Friends of the Museum” fund.
Eager to learn more about your gallery operations, I would welcome the opportunity for a personal interview. Please let me know if there is any other information I can offer to support my candidacy for the Gallery / Marketing Assistant position; I hope to hear from you soon.
Resume Example and Tips: Resume Sample for a College Senior
More Sample Cover Letters
Here you will find cover letter samples for a variety of career fields and employment levels, including an internship cover letter sample and entry-level, targeted, and email cover letters.