What is a Personal Statement?
Writing a personal statement for graduate school applications can feel overwhelming. The purpose of your personal statement is to introduce yourself, explain why you are a good match for the program, market yourself, and entice the admissions committee to positively consider your application. Begin by researching each graduate school you are applying to and learning everything you can about their programs, faculty interests, and requirements for applications.
The Career and Internship Center is available to discuss the process with you and assist you as you develop your cover letter – simply contact us.
In addition to Career Development staff, don’t forget the other many resources available to you:
- Albion faculty – they were successful in their applications
- Albion alumni and friends who have gone on to graduate school – they have insight into what worked for them and/or what a specific school is looking for
- Internet sites created by graduate students at various schools – search on the Internet for blogs
- The writing center – available to assist you in the writing process
Senior Year: Implementation & Transition
At long last - you have achieved your last year at Albion College. It is more critical than ever that you use your resources well, stay organized, and keep your eye on the ball.
- Meet with a Career and Internship Center staff member to design a job search strategy or finalize your graduate/professional school search timeline and plans.
- Attend Career and Internship Center workshops targeted for seniors: Developing a Job Searching Plan, Resume Writing, Successful Interviewing, Getting an Apartment, Day One at Work as well as a Senior Open House and more.
- Ask faculty and employers to provide references for you.
- Revise and update your resume and draft a cover letter. For graduate school, complete your personal statement.
- Mail your applications to graduate schools.
- Prepare for graduate school or job interviews with a mock interview in the Career and Internship Center.
- Complete an internship or career-related work experience if you haven’t already.
- Formulate an alternate “Plan B” in case you need to make last minute career adjustments.
- Assist your student organization transition from your leadership to the upcoming leaders in the group.
- Begin to research companies/organizations and the career opportunities they offer.
- Participate in career fairs and build your network of contacts in your field of interest.
Most importantly - use all the expertise and resources Albion College has to offer as you transition to career or graduate school following graduation!
A Cover Letter... What's That?
A cover letter is your face to the company. It is addressed to a person at the company when possible and always accompanies your résumé. It is an opportunity to let your potential employer know more about you than just what is on the résumé.
Use the cover letter to express yourself, your passion for working at the company, and as an example of your writing skills. You want to reflect on how your skills and experiences match the needs and interests of your potential employer, as well as the requirements for the position. Always send a cover letter with your résumé - even if the job description does not specifically say to.
Things to keep in mind as you write a cover letter
- Research the company of interest. Find out about the services offered and the logistics of the job so that you can tailor your letter to that position and company.
- Focus on what you can do for the employer, not how this job will benefit you as an employee. What makes you stand out from other applicants?
- The desired length of a cover letter should be one page. You may consider using the same heading on your cover letter as you did on your resume for consistency and style. This can help you stand out in the crowd.
- Font size should be 10-12 point in Arial or Times New Roman font type consistent with style used on your résumé.
- Salary Requirements: Visit the Career and Internship Center to review nationwide average salary data for new graduates if you are asked to include this in your cover letter.
- Print your cover letter on the same bond paper that you used for your résumé.
- Don't forget to sign your name at the end. Make sure to use either blue or black ink.
- Neatness counts! Proof well for typing or grammar errors and use only clean copies of your cover letter.
The staff in the Career and Internship Center are happy to provide assistance as you develop your cover letter and provide critical review as needed. Contact us!
Cover Letter Format Outline
City, State, Zip Code
Name of Individual
Title of Individual
Name of Organization
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Ms. / Mr. / Dr.________:
Opening Paragraph: Attract attention. Clearly state the reason for writing; name the position or type of work you are applying for. Identify how you heard about the opening, or how the employer’s name was obtained (i.e., Albion College Career and Internship Center; Professor Smith in the English Department at Albion College; etc.). Introduce your themes.
Second and Third Paragraphs: Outline your strongest qualifications that match the position requirements based on the themes you selected. As much as possible, provide evidence of your related experiences and accomplishments. Describe what you can do for the employer, rather than what they can do for you. Point out your specific achievements and unique qualifications that are relevant to the position. Try not to state information using the same words you used in the resume.
Fourth Paragraph: Suggest an action plan. Make reference to your enclosed resume and restate your interest by indicating your availability for a personal interview. Either suggest a time or state your willingness to come at the convenience of the individual employer.
Fifth Paragraph: Express appreciation to the reader for his or her time and consideration.