Illustration by Ashley Stewart

Internships are a helpful stepping stone to gain experience in your chosen industry. Whether you’re applying for an internship or full-time job, cover letters are a universal part of the application process. 

However, despite their necessity and practicality, there isn’t anything I hate more than writing cover letters. I have written a decent amount while at SCAD, but they haven’t gotten easier with time. Every letter is a new source of anxiety and dread. One of the most difficult aspects is the fact that it’s all about striking a balance between trying to stand out and following the expected format. 

I don’t mind talking about myself, but it’s never easy to tell what is too much or too little. Every company has a different standard for what they are looking for. Even if you’re applying to an entity that is known for having a distinct personality and style, there isn’t room for being too unique or quirky because you can’t be totally sure of who’s going to be reading the letter. 

Additionally, cover letters all have the same information across the board, no matter who is writing them. It isn’t so much about the content of the letter as it is how it’s written. Everyone who writes a cover letter is saying the same thing — “I want this job, please hire me.” The competence of the writer comes through, regardless of the information contained within it. It makes sense why they are required materials in many cases.

But, I still wish that I could just send my resume, work samples and have my competence evaluated in an interview. Sometimes the most daunting aspect of writing a cover letter is the sheer number you have to write. Each cover letter needs to be unique to the application. Because most people apply for multiple positions, there is a repetitive element that becomes mind-numbing. You say the same thing in different ways over and over again. The problem is that there is a limited number of ways to say something in a succinct and easy-to-understand manner.

While I understand the purpose of a cover letter, I hate the weird games we play in strategically trying to sound competent and interested in the position. You are forced to be disingenuous in explaining why it is important to you, without saying, “I am looking to use this as a stepping stone towards something else.” It feels like you are trying to date the company and send a text that isn’t too eager or too disinterested, instead of apply for a job or an internship. I would just prefer if the cover letter portion of the process was left out entirely.