Cover Letters: Body & Closing Paragraphs

By: Cameron

Welcome to part II of cover letters! This post will pick up where my last post left off by giving a brief overview of the body and closing paragraphs in a cover letter.

Body Paragraph

The body paragraph is the meat and potatoes of the cover letter. This paragraph is the main reason you are writing the cover letter. In the body paragraph, you want to expand on your relevant experience. You want to convince the reader that you will be a good fit for the position you are applying for. Since you are trying to say a lot in one paragraph it is extremely important to be as concise as possible. Example:

During my position as a mechanical engineering intern at Cirrus Aircraft I worked on designing the propellers for the new line of planes by making SolidWorks models, prototypes, and test procedures.

Or….

As an engineer intern at Cirrus I designed airplane propellers from concept design to testing.

Body paragraphs, and cover letters in general, are things that I would encourage you to continuously work on. There seems to always be a sentence or idea that you can improve upon.

The body paragraph is also a great place to expand on some of your transferable and less concrete skills such as communication, leadership, problem solving, teamwork, etc. Sometimes it is difficult to express these kinds of skills in a resume. You can always tell the employer that you have these skills, but it doesn’t mean much unless you give some concrete examples.

On a final note, don’t forget that a cover letter is an opportunity to display your writing skills. It is very uncommon to find a profession that doesn’t value great written communication skills. One of the reasons that some employers ask for cover letters is to see your writing skills.

Closing Paragraph

In the closing paragraph there are a few key things that you want to do. A good way to start this paragraph would be to reiterate your excitement/interest in the position. Then you should directly ask to schedule or meet for and interview at their convenience to further discuss how your skills will be a valuable contribution to the position. Next, you will give them your contact information (typically your phone number and email) in case they have any questions. After the closing paragraph there will be a one-sentence paragraph thanking them for their time, consideration, etc.

As you can see, the closing paragraph is much more generic than the introduction or body paragraphs, but I still strongly encourage you to be creative and not copy and paste someone else’s work.

Hopefully these last two posts have given you some good ideas and helped you better understand the intent of a cover letter. Even if you aren’t currently job hunting I would recommend you start writing some practice letters. The first one is always the hardest, but soon you will be an expert!

Of Possible Interest:

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How to Prepare for Interviews

By: Ashley

Hey everyone! So the last time I left you I talked about post-baccalaureate programs and I mentioned that I received an invitation for an interview at the Mayo. I decided the best thing to do next would be to share with you all the process I went through to get myself ready for my interview. The two biggest things that helped me were research and mock interviews.

To start out, I began researching everything possible on the program that I wanted to get into. I researched the curriculum including all classes and descriptions of what each course would entail. I researched the faculty members who were going to be on the panel interviewing me. It wasn’t super in-depth research just their biographies listed on the program web site. I think it helped knowing who I was going to be interviewed by, it relieved some stress being able to put a face to the name. I also made sure to research the goals and competencies that the program director and faculty put in place for the program so I would know what they stand for.

The next step was getting comfortable in the interviewing environment. Being under the pressure of having someone firing questions at you and having to think of appropriate answers to the questions off the top of your head can be very stressful. Being able to keep your cool and answer the questions effectively is an important part of projecting confidence during an interview. To get ready I scheduled a one on one mock interview with a career counselor in our office and then a follow-up with her and another career counselor to simulate a mock panel interview. Not only did the counselors interview me but then they provided feedback and helpful hints. Some hints they gave me that were particularly helpful were:

  • Write down your strengths and weaknesses ahead of time – even if they don’t ask you the dreaded “tell me your weaknesses” question, they may come in handy in other questions.
  • Come up with questions for the interviewers ahead of time – it never hurts to ask them about themselves, you know ask them how they got into the field you want to get into.
  • Know what you can contribute, what makes you unique, and how you differ from the other candidates.

Other resources that can be used are InterviewStream, even if you don’t want to record yourself you can look through thousands of questions and have a friend ask you them, or you can practice in from of a mirror. Overall, there are multiple ways to get prepared for an interview. I think the most priceless of these is the mock interview. I think that many people do not use this resource to their advantage and many may be unaware that it is a service provided by our office. I think an appropriate quote to end this post would be by Arthur Ashe and it goes “one important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”

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Blogception: A Blog Post About Blogging

By: Michael

Are you wondering about how you can do more to stand out at your current place of employment? Maybe you’re thinking about starting or managing a business and you want to know of a way to put your company in a good light. Let me introduce you to blogging! Now I know the two of you have met seeing as you’re reading this post right now, but let me tell you this; blogging is a wonderful tool that many businesses and organizations are using to develop a creative and cost-effective way to improve marketing and public relations. If you are looking for a way to stand out or increase your scope of work duties, why not inquire about writing for your company blog? Chances are, a blog does exist for your company or organization and there is also a good chance that it’s not very good due to lack of writers, neglect, or what have you.

Blogging

During my junior year, I had to do a market research plan for a company or industry of my choice and I had happened to select a relatively new, local brewery and began researching every aspect of their marketing strategy including their advertisements, website, and blog presence. What I noticed is that they did not have a consistent blog, oftentimes going a week or more without posting anything. It takes a lot of work to keep a blog updated on a daily basis and the more writers who contribute to it the easier it is for those who manage it. Blogs allow you to communicate to others some of the finer details of your organization that might pique the interests of your readers or create positive branding. For example, writing blog posts about different aspects of the brewing process was a wonderful topic for the brewery’s blog that led to lots of views.

As most of you know, we have a lot of different contributors to our Peer Into Your Career Blog, ranging from current students to recent grads, career counselors, and some work professionals. Each blog post presents a different perspective that supports and works alongside our office’s broader focus of providing excellent career advice to our peers. What better way to do that than to get everyone who has been involved in the office to contribute their personal experiences in all things career-related?

In addition to providing benefit to your organization, blog writing is also an opportunity to stretch your creativity muscles and add variety to your workday. If your company doesn’t have a blog, take the initiative and start one, there are a number of ways to do this:

  1. Go to a third party site such as Blogger or WordPress
  2. Include it on your company or organization’s website
  3. Write op ed pieces for your school’s newspaper (I did this a number of times during my work with extra-curricular student organizations)

Still not convinced? Check out this article about 15 reasons why you should blog. If that’s not enough to gear you towards writing a blog, I don’t know what will. Happy writing!

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The Quest for All Trades

By: David

With the school semester finally coming to an end (thank goodness!) the wonderful month long break approaches us. With an entire month of no school, we are sometimes left with “too much” time surprisingly. Whether you’re watching the entire 10 seasons of “Friends” (on Netflix Jan 1st), outside enjoying the snow, or just simply trying to get to diamond on Leagues, you’re still going to have a little bit of free time. So what to do on this extra free time? Well, why not learn a new skill?! With an entire month of free time this is the best time to learn a new set of skills for the workplace, academic area, or just for the greater good.

One of my favorite figure of speech of all time is, “jack of all trades, master of none”. This figure of speech is one that has always stuck to me since the beginning of time. The value of being a well-rounded person has always been important to me. In an article called, “Learn a new skill and become a better candidate,” the author talks about the importance and value of learning a new skill. It talks about how and where you can learn various skills on different websites and some of these websites include YouTube, Skillshare, TED, and many more. Being well-rounded is highly beneficial because it shows that you’re not so limited to a certain set of skills. By having a wide variety of skills you can always approach certain problems or situations from several perspectives.

So, if the concept of being a well-rounded person is so important, then what skills are necessary in order to make you a “well-rounded” person? Well, before you master any type of awesome art the best way to start off is starting with the basics. The basic skills like cooking, cleaning, or even knowing how to use a Keurig coffee machine are essential. The other day my wonderful supervisor taught me how to use a Keurig coffee machine that I dared to never touch. Now that I know how to use the machine you see me sipping from a coffee mug almost on a daily basis now! It’s totally possible to learn new awesome skills like juggling, painting, etc., but in the end the most basic skills are usually the most important ones. So if you do plan on learning a new skill, don’t forget about the basic skills as well.

Though the idea of learning a new skill can be fascinating, it can also be quite nerve wracking at the same time. Back to the story of the Keurig machine, I never dared to touch the machine because in the end I was afraid that I would look foolish if I didn’t know how to make coffee so I just never tried. If I had originally tried to use the machine the first time I’m sure I would’ve been a master at it a lot earlier. You see, with starting a new skill the starting point will always be the most difficult part, but once you actually start and get the ball rolling then you will be A-okay!

In the end, learning a new skill is always beneficial whether it’s for work, academics, or if you just want to simply pick up on a new hobby. Applying your wonderful talents is always fascinating and impressing to others whether it be on the professional or social setting. With a little bit of extra free time, why not learn a new skill this winter break? Who knows, you might even land your next job interview with this new skill! Let’s say farewell to the fall semester and enjoy the well deserved winter break. Stay safe and stay warm folks!

Of Possible Interest:

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The Top 3 Things to Take Away From “10 Career Tips for 20-Somethings”

By: Meg

I recently read an opinion post written for Forbes by Mary Ray as a part of YEC Women (Young Entrepreneur Council), a program for mentoring young female business professionals. Her post was written with women in mind, but it does apply to everyone working their way up their career path. It’s not about how to make money, or the decisions you should make. This article is about the things you can do to make life easier for yourself, to be successful as a working person, not just at work. You should definitely take a look at the full article here: 10 Career Tips for a 20-Something.

Tips for 20-somethings

Here’s what I took out of it:

Take care

Above all, when setting yourself up for success you need to remember you. It’s easy to forget yourself among all of the stress of finals, job interviews, work, etc. that the whole point is to be happy with where we are. So yes, work hard, but also spend time with yourself and the people who make you happy. Schedule it in if you have to. Just make sure that you’re taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. How? From the article:

  • Work out- however you want, just get your heart pumping
  • Surround yourself with people who support you
  • “Every night, think of three positive things from the day”

Advocate for yourself

When it comes to your career, there is nobody who is going to make sure you’re reaching your goals. That’s all up to you. You need to be able to stand up for yourself: Negotiate that raise, be heard in meetings, only take on what you can handle, etc. Be confident! The best thing you can do for yourself is to know that you are good, and that you deserve to be treated that way.

Cultivate relationships

You need people around you. So does everyone else. That’s why networking is a huge part of the working world. The people you are working with understand the world you’re in, so they’re good people to have with you when you need to vent. They’re also good if/when you move on. Don’t forget about the people in your past. Former bosses and coworkers are still people you can call on, so make sure to keep those relationships in good standing.

I can definitely see why this was written by someone mentoring young women. Often, we forget that we have to take care of ourselves, not just everyone else. We need to practice advocating for ourselves, and that’s often really hard to do. So I think it’s important to remind yourself of that pretty often. I’m personally bookmarking this…and putting it in as a task for next semester’s finals week to make me feel better.

Overall, the one thing us Millennials need to remember is that our career is for us. It does no good to have a killer resume if at the end of the day we’re not happy.

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What Can I do With a Mathematics or Statistics Major?

By: Janet & Sue (Career Counselors & Guest Posters)

So, you’re thinking about a mathematics or statistics major and wonder what else you could do besides teach or become an actuary. The number and kinds of career options may surprise you.

Math is used in many different fields. Who knew it takes a lot of math to make Pixar’s characters so adorable? Yes, “those adorable animations don’t instantly leap from their designers’ brains into our hearts. The cuddly creatures come from a source: the mind of an in-house mathematician.”

Math degree

Mathematicians are everywhere! According to the American Mathematical Society, “Mathematical research and education are at the heart of some careers, while other careers utilize mathematics and its applications to build and enhance important work in the sciences, business, finance, manufacturing, communications, and engineering.”

Mathematics is the basis of technological innovation and scientific advances in transportation, entertainment, energy, medical research, information technology, and space exploration.

Employers like mathematics majors because they tend to be logical, critical, and mathematically competent. Mathematics majors can look at data, analyze it, interpret it, find correlations or trends, and make decisions based on the data or give the information to managers who make the decisions.

These attributes and skills are desired characteristics in many fields including finance, logistics, and retail. Software and IT positions are also strong possibilities because of the analytical skills needed to program. There are many other options open to mathematics graduates including working in banking, accounting, insurance, design, and statistical analysis.

To explore some of the different career possibilities in mathematics and statistics check out “What Can I Do With This Major?” Mathematics and “What Can I Do With This Major?” Statistics. To see what recent UMD graduates of mathematics and statistics were doing their first years after graduating go to the Graduate Follow-up Report.

The Mathematical Association of America, has a wealth of information for Undergraduates on Math Careers including career options such as operations research, biomathematics, biostatistics, and cryptography.

For those of you interested in business and marketing, as a complement to your mathematics or statistics major you may want to consider the marketing analytics minor or major. Although not required it could enhance your pursuit of positions such as marketing analyst, business intelligence analyst, competitive intelligence analyst or market research analyst to name a few.

As you can see, there are many options for mathematics and statistics majors. It’s really up to you and your imagination, so get out there and do some research! Maybe you’ll decide “Big data” is for you!

Of Possible Interest: 

Photo source

Making Progress During Winter Break

By: Sadie

Your semester is slowly coming to an end and winter break is right around the corner. You’re tired. Tired from endless studying, tired of the food on campus, tired of getting out of bed at 9 am for a lecture class, and you just want to go home. You want to see your friends, family, eat your mom’s home cooking, and lay in your bed and binge watch Netflix until it’s time to go back to school. After a couple of days of fun and relaxing, you ought to start being proactive and complete those tasks you’ve been putting off.

Here are some of the tasks I am referring to that you can do over winter break:

Sick of your family asking you what you want to do with your life? Finally decide on a major or a minor:

Write your resume, cover letter, or personal statement (or all three!):

  • Use our online Career Handbook to help you develop your resume, cover letter, and personal statement.
  • Visit our resume drop-in hours for one-on-one, immediate help.
  • Or if you don’t have time to sit down with someone, fill out a review request form to drop off or email your resume/cover letter/personal statement to be looked at.

Now that you have a rockstar resume, search for a job and/or internship:

  • Visit the U of M’s online database, GoldPASS, to post your resume and search for a job, internship, or volunteer opportunities.
  • Plan to attend one of our workshops or presentations for tips and advice on how to land a position.
  • Plan to attend a job and internship fair.
  • Schedule a time to job shadow a position you are curious about.
  • Take a look at additional resources offered on our website.

Found your dream job? Now practice your interviewing skills.

  • Practice interviewing online with InterviewStream.
  • Set up an appointment with one of our career counselors for a mock-interview.
  • Visit the Career Resource Center located in the Career & Internship Services office that has books with sample questions and tips for interviewing.

PS: The Netflix can wait, these important opportunities can’t.

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