Resumes, Cover Letters and References

If you’re applying for a job or an internship, chances are they will ask you for a resume. Sometimes, they might ask you for a cover letter and a list of references too. If you’re absolutely clueless on what any of these things are (as we were), don’t panic. Here’s a quick guide to creating these documents.

Creating a Resume

  • Use a Word template if you’re not feeling creative (the internet probably has some more options as well).
  • Section 1: Profile. State a brief sentence about who you are like “I am a Senior at X University working towards an X in X with experience in X, X, and X.”
  • Section 2: Skills. Simple short list of skills (hard and soft skills matter).
    • Stay away from the buzzwords (proactive self-starter, independently motivated, etc. do not really mean anything).
    • List real skills like strategic planning, event coordination, data entry/collection, etc.
  • Section 3: Work experience. Always list this in descending order from most current to oldest experience. For every job/internship, list your responsibilities in bullet points .
    • If this is your current job, list them in present tense.
    • If they’re not, list them in past tense.
    • Use words like “assist”, “collaborate”, “plan” to start off each bullet points.
    • Always list the location of the job as well as the date range you worked there (eg: June 2015 – Present).
  • Section 4: Education. List what degree you’re getting as well as any relevant achievements like scholarships, Dean’s list, honor societies, etc. It is okay to include your high school on there if you’re a freshman and don’t have a lot of experience. By the time you’re a sophomore, you should probably get rid of it.
    • Here, you can also include student organizations you’re a part of. If you hold a leadership position in a student organization, you may also include this in the work experience section.
  • Make sure your name, email and phone number are somewhere in the header (this header should be the exact same for all your documents, including cover letter and reference page – consistency is good).
  • Keep it at one page – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT (you’re in college and don’t have a 10 year professional career to showcase).
  • Proof read it a million times. One typo will cost you the job.
  • Always submit the resume as a PDF (but don’t forget to save a Word version as well for future edits).


Creating a Cover Letter

  • Use the same template as the resume (repeat –  we are big fans of consistency).
  • State the date, name of the company, its address, the department you’re sending the letter to and the specific person you’re sending it to (kind of as if you were sending a physical letter).
  • Address the person you’re sending the letter to or “to whom it may concern” if you don’t have a choice.
  • Paragraph 1: State briefly who you are (school and major) and where you found the posting for the internship/job.
  • Paragraph 2: State your skills and how they relate to the job you’re applying to.
    • What we like to do is take the job description and requirements in the original internship/job posting and make sure we specifically reference all of those items (or at least the qualifications we meet).
  • Paragraph 3: Wrap it up. Tell them that you would be a great addition to the team and would like to meet to discuss how your skills and experience meet the qualifications for the position.
  • Sincerely, Awesome candidate X.
  • You may send this even if they don’t ask you for it. If they don’t specifically ask for a cover letter, it is okay to send this in the body of the email. Make sure you state that your resume is also attached.
  • Just like with your resume, always attach it as a PDF.


Creating a References List

  • Follow the same template as the rest of the documents.
  • List 3-4 references.
  • Make sure you ask your references if you can list them as such beforehand. You don’t want them to receive phone calls and them not have any idea who you are.
  • Write the name of the person, title, company their email address, and their phone number. You can also add the physical address of his/her office.
  • If you don’t have any work/internship experience, listing professors or advisers will be okay.
  • Do not send this unless they ask you for it.
  • Again, always send this as a PDF.



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