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Quintessential Careers:
Customizable Opening Paragraphs for Cover Letters: Letters for Students and New Grads of Graduate and Professional Schools

by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.


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  • When it comes to cover letters, have you got writer's block? Do you feel that if you could just start the letter, you'd be OK? Help is here.

    Here is a collection of customizable opening paragraphs for cover letters. Remember Mad Libs, the fill-in-the-blank game that resulted in wacky stories? This collection is a little like Mad Libs, except that the intended result is not wacky, but serious, effective openers for cover letter. Following each customizable opening paragraph, you'll find a sample paragraph with the blanks filled in.

    This set of 12 customizable opening paragraphs is for cover letters for use by students graduating from -- or recently graduated from -- graduate and professional schools. Read more about the FAQs about cover letters.

    Customizable Opening Paragraph #1:
    As a [name of concentration] graduate student with a bachelor's degree in [major(s)], I seek a position in your [name of entity within employer] at [name of employer] in which I can [execute an action relevant to the targeted job] as I have in my previous [type of experience] experience. As a(n) [name of position], I will enthusiastically [execute an action relevant to the targeted position]. Past employers can attest that I am particularly adept at [executing action relevant to the targeted position].

    Sample customized paragraph based on above:

    As a linguistics graduate student with a bachelor's degree in Portuguese and English, I seek a position in your Summer English Language Program at The University of Montana in which I can have an impact on students as I have in my previous teaching experience. As an activities coordinator, I will enthusiastically give as much to the students in the program as I will learn from them. Past employers can attest that I am particularly adept at contributing ideas and counseling students by being a good listener.

    Customizable Opening Paragraph #2:
    Please accept this letter and enclosed materials as application for the [name of position] position at the [name of employer] listed on [name of Website] Website. For the past [timeframe] I have been a [name of position] in [name of employer]. [Sentence that describes special value of experience].

    Sample customized paragraph based on above:

    Please accept this letter and enclosed materials as application for the assistant professor of biology position at the University of Richmond listed on The Chronicle of Higher Education Website. For the past two years I have been a postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Lois Wagner's laboratory in the Department of Molecular Genetics at All Children's Hospital. Dr. Wagner is one of the world's top experts on molecular genetic immunology.

    Customizable Opening Paragraph #3:
    I will receive my [type of degree] degree in [area(s) of concentration] from [name of college, university] [timeframe] and would like to bring my solid [type of experience] background and strong skills to your firm. Because of the outstanding reputation of your company, I would welcome an opportunity to enhance the firm's success in a capacity as a [name of position].

    Sample customized paragraph based on above:

    I will receive my doctoral degree in materials science and engineering from the University of Chicago this fall and would like to bring my solid engineering background and strong skills to your firm. Because of the outstanding reputation of your company, I would welcome an opportunity to enhance the firm's success in a capacity as a research scientist.

    Customizable Opening Paragraph #4:
    As my graduate work at the [name of college, university] is close to completion, I am looking to bring my [type of skill], [type of skill], and [type of skill] skills to a firm like yours. I was most impressed by the [name of employer] [circumstance under which you learned about employer], and I am very interested in teaming up with your firm as a [name of position].

    Sample customized paragraph based on above:

    As my graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania is close to completion, I am looking to bring my analytical ability, computation, and problem-solving skills to a firm like yours. I was most impressed by the McKinsey & Company during your on-campus presentation, and I am very interested in teaming up with your firm as a management consultant.

    Customizable Opening Paragraph #5:
    My extensive qualifications in [name of field], [name of field], and [name of field], coupled with my strong MBA-level educational background, will enable me to make a valuable contribution in a [name of position] capacity with your firm.

    Sample customized paragraph based on above:

    My extensive qualifications in sales, customer service, and communications, coupled with my strong MBA-level educational background, will enable me to make a valuable contribution in a pharmaceutical sales representative capacity with your firm.

    Customizable Opening Paragraph #6:
    I am currently a [year level] MBA student at the [name of college, university] majoring in [name of major]. I am writing to express my interest in position of [name of position] at [name of employer]. [Circumstance under which you learned about employer], I am very impressed by significant responsibilities offered to its employees and ample opportunities for an entrepreneurial, achievement-oriented type of person to excel. More importantly to me, your firm's [characteristic of employer] is particularly well-suited to my background.

    Sample customized paragraph based on above:

    I am currently a second-year MBA student at the Wharton School majoring in finance. I am writing to express my interest in position of Investment Banking Associate at Charles Schwab. Talking with various alumni, such as your colleague Frances Potter, and your representatives from Charles Schwab, I am very impressed by significant responsibilities offered to its employees and ample opportunities for an entrepreneurial, achievement-oriented type of person to excel. More importantly to me, your firm's global presence is particularly well-suited to my background.

    Customizable Opening Paragraph #7:
    Having just attained an MBA degree from [name of college, university], I am eager to activate my enhanced [type of skills] skills in the [name of position] position you have currently available.

    Sample customized paragraph based on above:

    Having just attained an MBA degree from Vanderbilt University, I am eager to activate my enhanced financial skills in the treasury analyst position you have currently available.

    Customizable Opening Paragraph #8:
    As an MBA candidate at [name of college, university], I am eager to apply my enhanced [type of skills] skills in one of the [name of position] positions you are currently advertising.

    Sample customized paragraph based on above:

    As an MBA candidate at the University of Akron, I am eager to apply my enhanced financial skills in one of the equity research associate positions you are currently advertising.

    Customizable Opening Paragraph #9:
    As a [level] [name of college, university] student with [number of years] years of experience in the [names of departments] departments of [name of employer], I have much to contribute to a [type of employer] such as yours in a [name of position] capacity. The experience I gained [executing action relevant to the targeted position], as well as [executing action relevant to the targeted position], provided me with a combination of strong [type of skills] skills.

    Sample customized paragraph based on above:

    As a second-year Harvard Business School student with six years of experience in the credit and M&A departments of J.P. Morgan, I have much to contribute to a venture capital firm such as yours in a Senior Associate capacity. The experience I gained scrutinizing companies in various industries, as well as structuring M&A and financing deals, provided me with a combination of strong analytical and project-execution skills.

    Customizable Opening Paragraph #10:
    I will graduate [timeframe] from [name of college, university] in [location], with a master's degree in [area of concentration]. I am writing to express my interest in a position as a [name of position] with [name of firm].

    Sample customized paragraph based on above:

    I will graduate this year from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, with a master's degree in information systems, management, and technology. I am writing to express my interest in a position as a [name of position] with [name of firm].

    Customizable Opening Paragraph #11:
    I have recently passed the Bar, having graduated from [name of college, university], and would be most interested in speaking with you about your plans for the opening on your [name of team] team. My law school performance was exemplary. My accomplishments include [brief list of accomplishments].

    Sample customized paragraph based on above:

    I have recently passed the Bar, having graduated from University of Virginia Law School, and would be most interested in speaking with you about your plans for the opening on your Public Law team. My law school performance was exemplary. My accomplishments include selection for the school's National Appellate Advocacy Team, successful representation before an Administrative Law Judge, and a summer fellowship with Fox Hollow Legal Services.

    Customizable Opening Paragraph #12:
    I am writing to inquire about openings at your firm. My education and relevant experience offer me an outstanding opportunity to make a positive contribution to [name of firm]. I possess the unique combination of both [names of degrees] degrees. As you review my resume, you will find my experience and education commensurate with a [name of position] position in the area of [area of specialization] at your firm. I plan to sit for the [name of Bar exam] in [timeframe].

    Sample customized paragraph based on above:

    I am writing to inquire about openings at your firm. My education and relevant experience offer me an outstanding opportunity to make a positive contribution to Wiggins, Wiler, and Sneff. I possess the unique combination of both accounting and law degrees. As you review my resume, you will find my experience and education commensurate with a staff counsel position in tax law at your firm. I plan to sit for the New York Bar Exam in July.


    Go back to the main page of Customizable Opening Paragraphs for Job-Seeker Cover Letters.


    Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.

    Katharine Hansen, PhD, QuintCareers.com Creative Director Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com.


    Go back to the Cover Letter Resources for Job-Seekers section of Quintessential Careers, where you will find a collection of the best cover letter tools and resources, including articles, tutorials, and more.