Junior Writing Question

Junior Writing: Spring 2021

Paper 4: Application Essays, Cover Letters, and Résumés

Paper 4 Directions:

The goal of this assignment is to provide you with an opportunity to get feedback on another form of writing that should be useful to you. You will be writing application materials for the next stage in your professional development: graduate school, professional school, internships, or employment. Choose either option # 1 or 2:

1. For a graduate/professional school application:

If you are interested in a particular program, go to their website to review their application requirements. Prepare the following items:

  1. a cover letter to the professor you would like to work with in graduate school or program administrator (depending on the program)
    • Typically, this would not be submitted with your application, but would be sent to the professor before you apply to express interest in working with him or her. Use a three-paragraph format similar to the cover letters used for jobs.
  1. a résumé, one page long
  1. an essay/personal statement
    • Identify the prompt for an essay or personal statement within the application requirements and follow the instructions for length. (Include a copy of the essay question when you hand in your paper.)

2. For a job or internship application:

Select an actual job (try searching Handshake or another job search site) that is similar to one that you will be applying for either as a student or a new graduate. Attach the job ad to your assignment.

  1. a cover letter to a potential employer; use a three-paragraph format
  2. a résumé, one page long
  3. a personal statement
  • In a job interview, your prospective employer would assess your fit for the position and whether your previous experiences have prepared you for the job you are applying to. For this assignment, write a general personal statement that addresses your qualifications for the job. You might address your interest in the job/field, how your experiences have prepared you for this position and also shaped your interest, and show/not tell the positive characteristics that would make you a strong candidate. This essay should be a cohesive piece of writing that is 2-3 pages long (12 point Times New Roman font, double spaced, 1 inch margins).

Pay Attention to the Following:

  • Focus on using concrete language (Strunk and White, p. 21-23), especially verbs.
  • Use the active voice (Strunk and White, p. 18-19; Penguin Handbook, pp. 361, 394).
  • The key component of writing a personal statement essay is “Show, don’t tell.” For example, don’t just tell us you are a hard worker—give us an example that demonstrates it.
  • Try to hit that sweet spot between being too humble so that your good qualities are not clear, and being over the top in your claims of excellence. It is important to come across as a likeable person as well as a competent person.
  • Don’t forget to proofread your paper for proper usage of punctuation, parallel construction, tone, and all the other aspects of writing we have covered.

Paper 4 Rubric:

Evaluation checklist for Paper 4 (total points possible: 65):

___ Cover letter to instructor as described above. (2 points)

___ Includes information on the graduate program or job sought. (2 points)(continue on next page)

Cover letter (14 points)

___ Correctly formatted with a salutation and closing & organized into three paragraphs. (3 points)

___ The tone is appropriately formal, even if it will be sent as an email to a prospective grad school advisor. (3 points)

___ Specifies the position that is sought. (4 points)

___ Highlights the applicable skills and experiences from the writer’s résumé, which are specific & apply to the position sought. (4 points)

Résumé (14 points)

___ The format is flawless, with careful alignment. (3 points)

___ Information is organized into relevant sections as described in class. (3 points)

___ Each section includes at least two, but no more than five, bullet points. (2 points)

___ Descriptions are relevant to the position sought. (3 points)

___ Descriptions use a variety of action verbs & strong descriptive word choice. (3 points)

Personal Statement (33 points)

Content (16 points)

___ Makes reference to the specific position and your unique fit. (4 points)

___ Highlights relevant and applicable skills and valuable experiences. (4 points)

___ Demonstrates your fit for the position using “show, not tell”. (4 points)

___ Includes information that makes you seem valuable to the employer/graduate program and does not focus only how employment or admittance to a program will benefit you. (4 points)

Form & Organization (17 points)

___ The paper is well-organized, cohesive, and flows logically. (2 points)

___ Strong introductory and conclusion paragraphs. (2 points)

___ Sentences are well-constructed and vary in length to keep the reader’s attention. (2 points)

___ Punctuation and affect/effect are used correctly (see Writing Skills 1&3). (2 points)

___ Wordiness is reduced (see Writing Skills 2) and word choice is strong. (2 points)

___ Parallel structure & active voice are used when appropriate (see Writing Skills 4). (2 points)

___ Paragraphs are well-structured, with topic and conclusion sentences. The sentences & paragraphs flow well from one to the next & effective transitions are used (see Writing Skills 5). (2 points)

___ There are few or no grammatical or spelling errors. (2 points)

___ Length requirements (2-3 pages, or as otherwise specified) are met. (1 points)

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