How Be Your Bestest Self in Every Cover Letter
Graduating felt pretty sweet, but now it’s time to get down to business and find a job. You might already have a general cover letter and resume, but you can’t send the exact same thing to all the jobs you’re applying to. That’s not going to cut it if you want to stand out and land your dream job.
Instead, try these cover letter dos and don’ts to refine that stock cover letter into a customized piece that truly reflects your unique talents.
A cover letter is an opportunity to make your writing pop — BibMe is here to help you stand out from the crowd! Check out their free grammar guides for info about first person pronouns, adverb examples, and an interjection list. Then, give your cover letter a final touch and run it through the BibMe grammar and plagiarism checker and land that dream job!
Keep it fresh
Write a new/revised cover letter for every job application. You can of course copy and paste a bit between drafts. Just be sure to use the following tips to make it feel tailor-made because a cover letter’s sole purpose is to answer the question: Why am I the best person for this job?
Read over the job description highlighting words specific to the job. Since many employers use software to narrow down huge applicant pools, the more harmony between your cover letter and job description, the better.
Tip: When searching for keywords, think like a search engine. Which words in the job description are most important for finding the right person for the job?
Research the company itself. Is there a specific project or recent news about the company that appeals to you? Do they have a reputation for hiring a certain type of person? Incorporating this information in your letter will further prove you are a good fit and demonstrates a genuine interest in the company rather than treating it like one of a million organizations in your application pile.
Think customer service
Ask yourself the question: What can I do for you?
The entire purpose of a cover letter is to highlight the answers to this question. Because you’ve done your research and collected keywords, you know exactly what they are looking for. Now it’s time to match your personal history and strengths with those needs. Think about everything you’ve done from volunteer activities, part-time jobs, or special school projects and match those with the company’s needs.
Don’t go beyond a page
If your job application was a movie, the cover letter would be the trailer. Keep it short, tight and full of the best you have to offer.
Don’t include your GPA
The same can be said for graduation rank or any other school-related metric unless it is perfect and provides a direct correlation to the job itself. Employers know that great students are not always great employees. Focus your limited space on what makes you the best fit for the position.
Don’t let creativity run wild
Resist the urge to use unusual words, fonts, or phrases. They will make you stand out, but unless you are applying for a highly creative job, you will stick out for all the wrong reasons. Focus instead on the experiences and talents you can lend the company.
Don’t go it alone
Your potential employer should not be the first person to set eyes on your cover letter. No matter how diligent and thoughtful you are, there is bound to be a mistake or two hidden between the lines. Your best bet is to ask someone who has been in the workforce to read over your letter to weed out any potential missteps.
A cover letter is a company’s first introduction to you. With a little extra time, care and research, it can also be the very first step toward your dream job.
You probably won’t need citations in your cover letter, but BibMe.org is there when you’re ready to research. Whether it’s an APA bibliography or MLA citing you are looking for, thousands of styles to choose from (Chicago format, too!) at BibMe.org. You can also find help on putting together your annotated bibliography.
5 College Prep Tasks to Do the Summer Before Senior Year
Summer vacation means you get to finally take a relaxing break from school — but if you’re a high school senior, summer can also be an opportunity to get a jumpstart on college applications.
If you can devote even just a few hours each week to college apps, you’ll save yourself a TON of stress later when it comes time to press that “submit” button.
Here are 5 college prep tasks you can work on over the summer:
Applications, essays, and resumes, oh my! Let BibMe.org give you hand. There’s a paper checker to help you avoid plagiarism, and grammar guides that provide examples of interjections, lay out the difference in usage of adjectives and adverbs, and even help with research paper topics and example papers!
#1: Start drafting your application essays
As many colleges allow you to apply via the Common App, you can count on having to complete their essay. The Common App gives students several different prompts to choose from, and they’re all pretty broad. Come up with a draft of your 650-word essay over the summer. That way, you can ask a tutor or English teacher to read it over for you once school starts back up. If you plan to apply to schools that don’t use the Common App, check and see if their essay questions are online.
#2: Decide on a final college list
By the summer before senior year, you may have already toured some colleges and may even have a dream school in mind. This is a good time to finalize the list of schools you’re applying to, considering factors like academics, social life, location and cost. The exact number of schools students apply to varies quite a bit, but if you have your eye on highly selective universities, somewhere around 12-15 sounds about right. Make sure to have at least one “safety” — a school where you feel confident you’ll be admitted with your grades and SAT/ACT scores.
#3: Build your resume with a job, classes, etc.
The summer before senior year is your last chance to add something big to your resume. Get a job lifeguarding at a local camp, enroll in classes at a college or intern at a company that does something you’ve always been interested in. Volunteer work is another great way to boost your resume and give back during your extended vacation. Of course, summer is also the time for fun: Don’t forget to relax with pool days, Netflix binges, or a family trip.
#4: Think about financial aid options
College is notoriously expensive, and this is a good time to look into different financial aid and scholarship opportunities. The FAFSA — the federal form used to determine how much you qualify for in loans/aid — should be submitted as close to Oct. 1 as possible, as you can increase your award by filing early.* Many students also seek out merit scholarships, which often have rigorous applications that require you to submit additional essays or letters of recommendation. While most of these won’t be due until the fall or later, summer is a good time to do some research and figure out which opportunities are a good fit.
*Always check with the official FAFSA website for any changes or updates.
#5: Study for your final SAT/ACT
Most students take the SAT or ACT in the spring of their junior year, but if you’re not yet satisfied with your score, you’ll have one final opportunity in the fall before applications are due. Order a prep book, join a class, or schedule sessions with a tutor to make sure you’re prepared for test day.
You may not need to create MLA citations or an APA reference page for the ACT or SAT, but BibMe’s citation guides can give great help for your college-level paper. Why not check out what BibMe.org can do for you before your first semester starts?
Research Habits that Sabotage Your Papers
Research papers are hard work. Don’t sabotage your paper’s grade before it’s even turned in. Help make your research process more efficient and ethical by kicking these four research habits to the curb!
Habit 1: Waiting until the last minute
We all do it. When it’s not something fun or easy, the natural instinct is to keep putting it off until it absolutely has to get done. Starting an essay at the last minute is convenient and temporarily nice, but can stress you out later and won’t help anyone do their best writing.
The answer: Set smaller deadlines for yourself before the teacher’s due date (e.g., outline, research, draft, editing, etc.). This makes the entire process of writing a paper less intimidating and can help you manage your time without resorting to doing it all the night before. Planning ahead means you can rest easier knowing you’re ahead of the game.
Habit 2: Using unreliable sources
“Of course it’s true! I read it on the internet!” is a classic joke for a reason. Always question anything you read online, even when the source seems legit. For example, did you know that some sites put out ads disguised as articles? Also, blogs can be great but be aware of the blogger’s background. Some bloggers are experts in their fields and really know what they are talking about. Others are novices with opinions and no evidence to back them up.
When reading a source of dubious credibility, there are a few things you can do to check if they are reliable. Go to the “About Me” or “About Us” section of an article to learn about the author or site’s authority and background. Scan the headlines and a few other articles of the website to judge if the website is fairly objective or leans toward an agenda. Finally, verify the information you’ve found with another source or two...which brings us to the next tip...
Habit 3: Getting all of your information from one source
Getting all a paper’s information from one source might seem like an easy solution, but what if that source is wrong?
Using multiple sources might take a little more researching time, but it also means more evidence that supports your thesis. It is also the best way to help you present a balanced view of a topic.
Avoid plagiarism and make sure your facts are straight by checking at least two or three sources and citing all the ones you use in your paper. That brings us to the last habit...
Habit 4: Forgetting to cite your sources
Your paper is done, and it is beautiful: double-spaced, a neat heading, the perfect creative title. There’s just one thing missing: parenthetical citations and your works cited (or references) page. The annoying part is all that work you just did will be for nothing if your sources are not cited.
Luckily, this part is easier today than it has ever been before! Citation Machine citing tools can help you easily create MLA citations, APA citations, and more! Just remember that you still need review the tool’s form to see if there’s any information you can add from the source that wasn’t automatically included, like a year of publication (often found in the first few pages of a journal or the very bottom of a website).
Internship 101: The Dos and Don’ts
Internships can be awesome! They’re a great way to gain experience, see what it’s really like to work in a field that interests you, and to make tons of connections that can help you in the future. Use the tips below to discover what you should — and shouldn’t — do during your internship to make the most of it.
Visit BibMe.org to learn more about our handy plagiarism checker and peruse our free grammar guides to learn about prepositional phrases, find out what exactly is an abstract noun or an adverb clause, and much more!
DO: Bring a pen and paper with you everywhere
An internship is, most importantly, about learning. Most programs have special events for interns with speakers or discussions on topics relevant to their field. Oftentimes, your supervisor will also have check-in meetings with you where they assign you tasks or ask you about your current projects. It is important to always bring a pen and paper with you, as you will never know when you will need to remember something for later. Invest in a nice, small notebook to bring with you to your internship, and you can fill it with all that you learn over its course for later reference.
DON’T: Sit idly
The cliché exists for a reason – interns don’t always have the most glamorous work. Sometimes you will be assigned tasks that seem mundane or simple. Sometimes you might not even be assigned anything at all. This is your chance to show your supervisors that you are reliable, and doing a great job on small things will allow you to build a trusting relationship with them. Even if you have nothing assigned, be proactive and try to ask for more work, see if anyone around you could use a hand, or even read up on current news about the company or your field.
DO: Try to meet as many people as possible
Most places that hold internship programs have a large network of employees that would love to meet young people and discuss their jobs. Choose a couple of people in your office that seem the most interesting to you, and ask your supervisor if they can connect you. Have coffee, lunch, or even an email conversation, and you might make a lasting connection that will teach you a valuable lesson or help you later in your job search.
DON’T: Make a bad impression on your supervisor
Some say that each day of an internship is like a job interview. This can hold true – you probably won’t have more than a semester at your internship, and being dependable and responsible throughout its duration is critical. This means showing up on time, not leaving early, staying off of your phone and social media, dressing professionally, and responding to emails in a timely manner.
DO: Make friends with the other interns
Most internship programs have at least a couple of interns rather than just one. If you all ended up in the same place, odds are you have something in common! Take time to talk to these people over lunch breaks, during events, or even outside of work. It can be a good idea to make a group chat with part of the group so that you all can answer each other’s questions, share your experiences, and make closer connections. These people may end up being your good friends, and they will make your internship experience a lot more rewarding and enjoyable!
DON’T: Forget to thank your supervisors
Supervisors do a lot for their interns, as they make the whole experience possible. Show your gratitude each day through your actions, but also make sure to follow up more concretely before you leave. Schedule a final lunch, and bring a thank you card with you as a tangible representation of your thankfulness. They will appreciate it more than you know!
An internship is the perfect time for personal and professional growth. Done correctly, you can leave with friends, connections, knowledge, and even a job offer! Keep these dos and don’ts in mind, and you should be able to navigate the process seamlessly.
Use BibMe to create your next bibliography in MLA, APA, and Chicago citation styles, or any one of the many citation styles available. There are also articles on how to put together your sources in an annotated bibliography — master your writing craft with our free resources!
Little Tricks to Stay Focused in Class
Let’s face it: Keeping alert in class can be tricky, especially if you have one of those pesky 8 a.m.’s and spent the previous night working late on a paper and APA reference list. While an extra-large coffee might be your go-to for those days you’re especially tired, sometimes caffeine alone can’t do the trick.
Below are tips to help you stay focused in class even on those days when all you want is to go back to bed.
Sit near the front of the classroom
It’s tempting to grab a seat near the back of the lecture hall but, you’ll find yourself more alert if you sit near the front where you can easily hear and see your professor. If it’s a 200-person seat auditorium, there’s no need to snag a spot in the first row, but try sitting somewhere in the front half of the classroom.
Put away your phone (and laptop)
Nothing is more distracting than getting notifications for texts, emails, and social media. Put your phone away for class, and try taking notes with a pen and paper instead of on your computer. If you must use a laptop for note taking, put your computer on “do not disturb” to avoid notifications.
Do the assigned reading beforehand
It’s easy to fall behind on course reading — especially if you know you won’t be tested on the material — but you’ll be much more engaged in class if you’re familiar with the subjects your professor is discussing. If you’re having an especially busy week, take the time to at least skim through the reading before you set foot in the classroom.
Bring a snack/drink
When your stomach’s rumbling, it’s hard to focus on anything other than food. Bring a reusable water bottle and a healthy snack — like a yogurt, granola or a banana with peanut butter — with you to class. If you don’t have time to cook a full breakfast prior to your morning class, make sure to at least pack something light in your backpack the night before.
Get involved in the discussion
Whether there’s a participation grade for a course or not, make sure to contribute to the course discussion — it’s a great way to keep alert! Come up with questions you’d like to ask your professor, or answer questions your instructor poses.
Sit up straight
Good posture is a simple — but effective — way to improve your focus. Instead of slouching in your chair, try sitting up straight, with your feet firmly planted on the floor. You’ll find it’s much harder to get sleepy when sitting perfectly upright than when hunched over. On a similar note, don’t wear clothes that are too pajama-like to class. No need to get too dressed up, but it’s way more likely you’ll fall asleep when clad in sweats instead of jeans.
Ok, this sounds like a weird suggestion, but chewing gum can actually help you stay focused as it’s a repetitive act that stimulates blood flow. You can do other little things — like spinning a fidget spinner, popping mints or lightly tapping a pencil — to keep yourself awake throughout your early morning lecture.
Handy Checklist for Graduating Students
Congratulations! You made it through years of college lectures, living off weird campus food, and late nights studying. All that hard work has paid off and you’re about to come away with a degree (finally!). No matter if you’re heading to graduate school, starting a new job, or taking some time off, you should be proud of this major life accomplishment!
Even though you should totally celebrate, also make the time to take care of a few things before you leave college. Here’s a list of a few to-do’s to consider for your final semester.
If you have papers to write before you graduate, try the BibMe essay and plagiarism checker to help refine them! There are also grammar guides that help you understand subject-verb agreement, give you a list of adjectives, learn what are relative pronouns.
Sign up for an exit loan counseling session
This session is mandatory for students who’ve taken out federal student loans and provides important information on how you can pay back what you owe. Luckily, the exit counseling session is easy to check off your to-do list. The entire process can be completed in roughly 25-30 minutes online.
Fill out the necessary graduation forms
If you’re walking in your school’s commencement ceremony, it’s important to file the necessary paperwork so that they’re ready for you to walk the stage. Check your university website to find out what date you need to apply for graduation by. Also, make sure to purchase your cap and gown — you may need to schedule a fitting for the gown — by your school’s deadline.
Visit your school’s career center
If you’re applying to jobs right after graduation, get in touch with a career counselor at your school for advice. The counselor may be able to provide you with contact information from alumni who pursued similar career paths — people who would be great for you to set up informational interviews with! Also, your career center can help you polish a resume or cover letter and prep for any upcoming job interviews.
Review your online presence
Whether your next step is graduate school or the job market, there’s a good chance someone will Google search you at some point. Make sure you’re giving off the right impression. Same goes with your social media profiles: Delete any posts you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see — and make profiles private if you don’t think they give off a professional vibe. Also take the time to give your LinkedIn a refresh! Add any missing information — awards, internships, etc. — to enhance your profile.
Ask professors/faculty members for recommendations
Regardless of your next step, you’ll probably need a letter of recommendation at some point. Determine which faculty members might be good to ask. Do you have a mentor on campus? Is there a professor you’ve taken several classes with? Those are good folks to ask! Be sure to write a thank you letter — and maybe give a small gift — to anyone who agrees to help you in this way.
Prepare for move-out procedures
Unless you’re attending graduate school at the same place you went for undergrad, you’re likely moving to a new neighborhood, city or state following college graduation. This means you’ll need to move out of your dorm or apartment. Instead of putting unwanted items in the dump, re-sell textbooks online and donate gently used clothing. To avoid having to move heavy furniture, see if the new resident of your apartment wants your stuff.