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Columbia University Cover Letter Samples

Look through these sample cover letters to get an idea of what to include in your letter.  Do not copy them directly!

The most important quality you can convey in your cover letter is enthusiasm, and this must be done in your own style.

Read our tips for writing a great cover letter.  We suggest that you write the first draft of your letter without using a sample to guide you.  Once you’ve created your first letter, those that follow will be much easier. 

Sample Cover Letters

Undergraduate Internship

                                                                                 Layla D’Antonio 

1 Lerner Hall 114th Broadway New York, NY 10027 | | (212) 555-0000

February 5, 2017 

CNN International Asia Pacific 30/F 
Oxford House, Taikoo Place
979 King’s Road 
Quarry Bay, Hong Kong 

Dear Ms. Chan, 
I am writing to express my interest in your editorial internship as part of the Columbia Experience Overseas Hong Kong. I have a great interest in media production and journalism and am eager to explore these fields in one of the world’s fastest-growing markets. This summer I will be a rising sophomore at Columbia University studying psychology with a special concentration in sustainable development. I am excited to apply the cultural awareness and critical thinking skills gained from my coursework, as well as my creative and teamwork skills honed in my on-campus work experience and as a student-athlete, to this position. 

For the past year, I have worked with the Columbia Video Network to develop online content for the Columbia University School of Engineering. My colleagues and I record classes and produce content that students living outside of the United States can rely on for their learning. In addition, I played a vital role managing our social media presence via Facebook and Twitter. My goal was to increase the network’s online exposure by sharing photos from our production room, writing posts about advancements in technology, and sharing engineering-related news and content that would be of interest to our students and followers. Through this work, I was able to acquire familiarity with media outlets and increase engagement with potential students.

Moreover, as a current Division I student-athlete, I have learned and mastered balancing both a demanding schedule and a fast-paced environment; characteristics I readily expect from CNN. Perseverance, mental stamina and time management, are but a few of the skills I’ve developed in my athletic career. I have also learned how to be an effective communicator and leader as a liaison between my teammates and coaching staff. 

The chance to contribute to CNN as an editorial intern is very exciting and it would be an honor if chosen. I am passionate about visual media production and the ways in which we use technology as a tool for the transmission of knowledge. I look forward to the opportunity to learn about news production and grow as a journalist and creative thinker. Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Layla D’Antonio

Creative Industry

1234 Jones Way 
Los Angeles, CA 93510

July 23, 2016 

Running Specialty Group 
The Gart Companies 
299 Milwaukee St., Suite 500 
Denver, CO 80206 

Dear Hiring Manager:

If I were a running shoe, I’d be the Nike LunarGlide+ 4. This lightweight and supportive model is dynamic, low-profile, and ready to race. It would provide a great fit for the position of Associate Content Producer as posted on As a journalist wielding a master’s degree and experience in the running industry, I fit the position requirements and possess the skills necessary to help enhance the site. Sure, I love to run, but my knack for producing quality content supersedes my talent (not to mention my VO2 max). 

As a senior editor, copy editor, and editorial intern, I’ve honed my writing and editing skills. I’ve produced compelling digital and print content for multiple platforms, from tablet magazines and social media to glossy print pages and online news sites. I’ve written about The Runner’s Center topics—training, racing, injury prevention, nutrition, weight loss, and inspiration. Peers and bosses alike come to me for proofreads, fact checks, top edits, and big-picture meetings. One of my editors recently called my reporting “meticulous.” 

As a marketing and sales rep, project director, and coach, I’ve developed interpersonal skills that enable me to interact professionally and effectively with superiors, freelancers, and interns alike. I’ve gained exceptional organizational skills while managing multiple deadlines. My competitive work ethic and trainable nature would support your daily sales and merchandising goals. Available to travel and work flexible hours, I am willing and able to help the Director of Content and Community and RSG team successfully grow 

Please consider this letter and my attached resume. I would be delighted to discuss this opportunity at your convenience. Thank you for your time and consideration. 


Janis Dean


111 Lerner Hall 2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

March 11, 2016 

Vince Winchester 
Thornton Tomasetti 
51 Madison Ave #19 
New York, NY 10010 

Dear Mr. Winchester, 

I am writing to express my interest in the Energy Analyst internship at Thornton Tomasetti. I initially learned about the position by speaking with Charlotte Greene at Columbia University’s Sustainability Career Fair. I am a senior at Columbia majoring in Mechanical Engineering and believe that my passions for helping the environment and engaging in complex engineering problems would make me an asset to your team. 

My extracurricular and work experiences have helped me develop the strong critical thinking and interpersonal skills required of an engineer. As a summer intern at ERS, I pinpointed cost effective retrofit measures on a very limited budget and manpower. While working on our heat load models, I realized that improving the insulation of a building could result in greater savings than the team’s HVAC focus. With approval from my boss, I was able to take initiative and create a new framework to implement insulation and envelope repairs. Using this idea, we discovered that one of our schools could save over $30,000 a year on electricity through insulation upgrades. 

Currently, I am lead a project for the Columbia Formula SAE team aimed at wiring our car with sensors to increase speed and validate load predictions. This skillset will be extremely relevant to the energy efficiency industry as more sensors exist in buildings and retrofit projects need to be validated. Complementing this project experience is my current coursework, which focuses on statistical programming for modeling environmental problems. The goal for one of my final projects is to use machine learning to predict which roofs in New York City need insulation. 

I believe at Thornton Tomasetti I can showcase my understanding of mechanical engineering principles and data analysis while also learning from the team that delivers the best in energy efficiency services. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you soon. 


Devon Fisher 

A cover letter has several purposes. Most important is to describe how your skills and experience relate to the employer’s needs. Next is to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the particular job or organization. Finally, it shows the employer your professional writing skills.

A cover letter:

  • accompanies your resume and introduces you as an applicant
  • highlights your qualifications 
  • shows you are a fit for the specific job to which you are applying  
  • is unique to each position
  • gives employers a sense of your personality, motivation and writing style

Before Writing

Research the employer: Learn enough about the organization to articulate why you are a strong fit for that firm. Here are some things you can do:

  • Review the firm’s website and LinkedIn page.
  • Speak with current or previous employees.
  • Read articles and social media for current news.

Analyze the job description: Look for skills, duties, and qualifications of the job so you can design your letter to match these as much as possible.

Reflect on your experience and motivation: Identify skills and personal qualities you have developed which will be useful in this role. Ask yourself:

  • What attracts you about this role/company/industry?
  • What have you have done in classes, projects, work experiences, internships, volunteer, activities, travel, etc., that is similar to the duties required of the job?  

Structure & Content

A cover letter is structured like a one page business letter. Do not exceed one page. Your cover letter should answer who, what, when, where and why you are applying for the opportunity. 

Format of the Cover Letter 

  • Keep cover letters short—three or four paragraphs and less than one page.
  • Use the active voice, keeping your tone positive and professional. Avoid beginning too many sentences with “I”.
  • Read your cover letter aloud to catch repetititious words and typos. Make sure that the grammar, sentence structure and spelling are correct.
  • When applying online, upload your cover letter as a PDF file, unless another format is specified. When sending your resume and cover letter by email you may write a short note or paste your cover letter in the body of your email (without the address header) and also attach the PDF file.
  • Address your letter to the specific individual who can hire you, if this is known. If the name is not included in the job description, address the letter to Dear Hiring Manager or to the title mentioned in the job description.
  • List your contact information at the top of the page either in the same format as your resume or on the top left or right margin as shown in the samples.


  • your contact information 
  • date
  • employer’s name, title and address
  • a greeting (addressed to Ms., Mr., or Dr. with the employer’s last name)
  • cover letter content  
  • your signature or typed name 

Cover Letter Content

Introduction: State the position for which you are applying, where you found out about the job, who you are and why you are interested in/qualified for this job and company in particular. If you spoke with someone in the company or were referred by a connection ask if you can include that person’s name and mention your conversation.

Body:   The body of the cover letter may be one or two paragraphs. Highlight your qualifications and emphasize your strengths which are most relevant to the industry, organization, and position. Be specific. Use 2-3 examples of your work or academic experience to communicate your motivation and how your skills and experience prepared you for the job. Structure your letter based on relevance not chronology. Explain how you will be valuable to the employer. Do not discuss or apologize if you feel you lack experience or accomplishments.

Conclusion: Thank the reader and reaffirm your interest in the position or organization. Keep your tone positive and enthusiastic. Your cover letter should be specific to the firm and explain why you would be a good fit to work there.