I’m not above peer pressure. I’m very much not above peer pressure. People begin to say that old adage, “if all your friends jumped off a cliff would you?” to me but stop because my feverous nodding already gives them an image of my flattened body grinning from the bottom of the Sahara. This is not to say positive peer pressure doesn’t affect me just as much as negative; such is the case with Emerson College and the internship panic that spreads throughout spring semester. The respective student body usually migrates to Los Angeles or New York. Once final grades were posted I was determined to avoid standing on Boylston Street holding a shameful retail time card with a single rain cloud of self doubt pouring down on me.
With impending homelessness, fleeting optimism and an empty inbox I made a decision about three weeks ago to stay in Boston, to stay with friends, and to stay employed. I accept not defeat for I’m currently still quasi-pursuing internships in Boston (Central Productions if you’d like to check your voicemail there are approx. 30 new messages from me begging to do menial labor) but I can honestly say I put up a valiant fight. Over the course of the internship battle I came in contact with an unforeseen enemy, an enemy I am forced to deal with and an enemy that will continue to be a presence in my life for an undetermined amount of time; I speak of the dreaded “cover letter”.
I’m not against marketing myself and in certain contexts I’m not against formality, but producing these detestable documents became the bane of my existence. It started to become a problem when I began applying to the—whatever-might-as-well—internships such as: writing intern on “All My Children”, animation podcast intern, and an ambiguous pilot involving Spanish people in a laundromat. Not only would I have to feign interest, but I would have to convince them that my film production background makes me the perfect candidate to write about Tristan’s love affair with her Grandfather’s cyclone business partner. I mastered the art of using one cover letter and simply substituting and cutting certain lines, like those thank you notes you’d write in the 3rd grade to relatives after a bountiful Christmas. “Dear _____ thank you for the _______, it was really great, how’d you know I wanted that!? Hope to see you soon!”. Instead these letters were written in the hopes of acquiring a gift, the gift of a (temporary) professional peace of mind. It goes without saying I place a bit of importance on cover letters. When the weeks would pass without reply I’d fear I’d left in a sentence or two from the previous draft and thus revealing my lazy application work ethic. I had roughly a dozen different drafts of my resume put didn’t want to name them according to the place I was applying to for fear of looking unprofessional and exposing my all-inclusive job hunt, so I devised a system of letters for differentiating. Let it be known I’m no Dewey Decimal, my system was more than confusing. So my fears were only intensified with the thought of sending the resume inflating my fine arts background to the writing.
Who knows the reason behind my lack of an internship: typo-ridden emails, resume goof, “better” applicants, racism…at this point the reason is unimportant. While I’ll be enjoying a relatively carefree summer I thought I’d keep my cover letter writing skills sharp, while using a new “fresh” approach.
June 2, 2008
64 Pleasant Street Apt. 2
Cambridge, MA 02139
1234 Broadway Street
New York, NY 00911
Dear Jane Smith,
I’m currently a panicking senior film production student at Emerson College in Boston. I’m extremely interested in having some fresh additions to my resume in the hopes of it helping me land a non food service job post college, and your company was one of the many I found in a desperate search. Ultimately I’d love to work with film and writing, and as you can see by my bull-shiting abilities within this letter my writing skills are not to be ignored! On that note an opportunity at your company fits right into my ultimate career goals and would provide me with a terrific learning experience.
An internship with your company would be a mutually beneficial experience (I hope that sentence appeals to you because I got it straight from a sample letter!) My strong work ethic would allow me to be a valuable part of your team. Just this past month I’ve applied to countless internships spanning many different genres despite fleeting interest and feigned enthusiasm, but my work ethic, and fear of professional inferiority, drove me forward.
I am currently committed to being on campus until late May, for I’m a Resident Assistant which means I’m not only responsible and good with people but it also shows I’m not above jeopardizing a social life for a job. From June 1st to September 1st I am available any hours or days necessary save for an hour lunch break a day so I can gorge on food and call as many people as I can to complain about my work schedule. Please feel free—seriously I’ll use all caps if it will drive the point across—to contact me via e-mail or phone with any questions or concerns. If interested I will be happy to arrange an interview at a mutually convenient time and place. I have no issues with skipping class, dental appointments or family obligations.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you in the future. But I’m not optimistic, I’ll secretly wish today is the day you’ll call but I’ve been burned before and I know the sting of rejection.