I travel in pink

How NOT to apply to summer student jobs

The past couple of weeks have been pretty busy and my head has been elsewhere. No travel for this girl. Hopefully, in a few weeks, I’ll explain why. Fingers crossed!

But in the meantime, it’s summer student application time at my office! I’ve had the pleasure of sorting through resumes, cover letters and scheduling interviews. And while I am by no means an expert, here are a few things that everyone should know.

1: Apply to the right job. 

For example, let’s say you are applying to a job at organization MNOP and in your cover letter, you write that you are excited to submit your application to organization TGIF. Do you see the problem here? Double-check your cover letter for mistakes like this. Sure, we all have standard templates for cover letters but dear god. Make sure you have the cover letter that matches the job. Or else, it will get immediately tossed.

2: Check your spelling. 

The number of spelling mistakes I find in quickly scanning cover letters and resumes is atrocious. Microsoft Word has spell check! It’s not hard. Take an extra ten minutes and review your letter strictly for spelling mistakes. Have a friend review it as well. Take a day off from working on it and come back to it and look again. I bet you will find a spelling mistake. And be consistent. If you want to spell honor without the u, fine. But make sure it’s like that everywhere.

3: Cover letters that don’t respond to the job descriptions will get tossed.

Go through the job description and mark anything that seems important. Make sure your cover letter reflects that. If the job description asks for strong writing skills in English, DO NOT WRITE YOUR COVER LETTER IN FRENCH. It may be a bilingual job posting, but they want to evaluate your writing skills in English. Don’t write it in any other language.

4: Remove things that are not important. 

If your resume has a job from when you were 14 and babysitting your neighbour, think about how that will impact your job. Did you learn something that you can directly apply to the job? Is it absolutely relevant? If your resume is thin, this will stand out. Is that what you want?

5: Headers are lovely. 

If you have a header on your resume, why not put the header on your cover letter? It’s aesthetically pleasing, and it shows a level of detail and finesse. You don’t need to, but a blank piece of paper with “dear sir/madam” and nothing else doesn’t look professional. Spend a little time on the format and the presentation of your cover letter and resume.

6: If you are in a loud place, don’t answer the phone. 

If someone calls you to schedule an interview, and you are in a coffee shop, chances are they can’t hear you. There is absolutely no harm in letting it go to voicemail. We understand you may not be able to answer. We will wait for you to call us back when coffee orders aren’t being shouted in the background.

7: Do not take Interview questions lightly.

True story: At my office, my colleagues asked a summer student what she is most proud of. She said she was most proud of not being racist. THIS IS NOT A GOOD ANSWER. Did you work on a difficult project? When you realized you had too many deadlines? Did you deal with a difficult colleague? Did you move from one place to another that was completely different? These are acceptable answers.


8: Send a thank you email. 

If you don’t know the email of your interviewers, ask the person who organized the interviews for their emails. I have absolutely no problem sharing it with you. It shows that you are professional and eager to send a thank you note.

9: Send it in PDF. 

If the job description doesn’t specify, put your documents in PDF. It’s cleaner, it can’t be altered and we won’t notice your spelling mistakes. Chances are, someone is printing them out for the interviewers. It’s easier and faster to print out when they are in PDF. Trust me on this. If they specify to put it in word, then make sure it can’t be changed by locking the edits.

10: Try and try again. 

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