University is a time for learning and trying new things. It is also a time in many people’s lives where they may be looking for their first job.
It’s a daunting task to write a cover letter with no experience. Much like writing a resume if you never had a job, there is a certain amount of creativity involved in filling a cover letter page with job exposure.
On-campus jobs are convenient for students, and employers are often understanding during times such as mid-terms and finals weeks.
These jobs are convenient and highly sought-after, so it’s important to get the cover letter right so you can get the position you want!
How to write a cover letter for an on-campus job
- First, write the sender’s information at the top of the page
- Write the recipient’s information
- Include a professional opening salutation
- Introduce yourself, including your year and major
- Write the body paragraphs describing your qualifications
- Describe your availability for the semester
- Include a professional complimentary closing and write your name
By following these steps, you will be able to write a cover letter to go along with your resume for an on-campus job.
Because many students live and study on-campus (usually full-time), the process of applying for and getting a job on-campus is slightly different than for those seeking a job after graduation.
Almost all students are seeking part-time on-campus jobs, so checking out how to write a cover letter for a part-time job is also a good resource.
To be sure the cover letter is as effective as it can be, let’s go over each step in detail to land that on-campus job!
1. Write the sender’s information at the top of the page
The sender’s (your) information should always be at the top of the cover letter. There are two main formats used for this information.
The first format is to include all of the information across the very top of the page like a header. Include your name, phone number, address, and email address, and center it at the top.
While headers may be slightly different in style, typically it will look similar to the following:
14 University Dr. Unit 13 Boston, MA 13204
The second format is to write it out as if you’re writing a formal letter, with the information formatted to the left side of the page.
Include each piece of information in its own line rather than having it all written out in the same line.
This should look like the following:
14 University Dr. Unit 13
Boston, MA 13204
You may notice on other cover letter examples that the address is simplified to only the city and state. For on-campus jobs, it is better to include the exact address so that the recruiter can immediately see that you live on-campus.
This can give the on-campus student an edge over other applicants, because they are more easily reached in case of a sudden call-out or work emergency.
While it is uncommon to use a school email address on a resume or a cover letter, students still continuing their education are the exception.
When applying to an on-campus job, it is perfectly acceptable and encouraged to use a school email address since the job is within the academic system.
This also ensures the recruiter that the applicant is a current student, which is often a pre-requisite to these on-campus positions.
So now that the sender contact information section is filled out, we move on to adding the same information of the recipient.
2. Write the recipient’s information
The recipient is either the person who listed the job, or the person in charge of the position. Their information should always be formatted to the left side of the page.
Include the recipient’s name, address (if known), phone number, and email address. This should look like the following:
23 University Dr.
Boston, MA 13204
If the name is unknown (which is a relatively uncommon problem for on-campus jobs) you may write “Hiring Manager” as the name. It is always best to find out the name of the person in charge of hiring though, so do your best to research accordingly.
If the address is unknown, simply omit the address lines.
Not including the address of the hiring manager is alright for on-campus jobs.
As a side-note, make sure you spell their name correctly! That is the kind of mistake that could instantly cost you the job, because a misspelled name comes across very disrespectfully.
Once you’re sure it is correct, you can move on to saying hello with your opening salutation.
3. Include a professional opening salutation
This is a cover letter for a job, so you must use a professional opening salutation.
Almost all professional correspondences begin with the salutation “Dear ____”, with a recruiter’s last name in place of the blank. Their title should also be included, such as “Mr.”, “Ms.”, “Mrs.”, or “Dr.”.
If their name is unknown, you may put “Dear Hiring Manager” with capital letters for the “H” and “M” because it is being used as a formal title.
A comma should follow their name or title (see our article “Comma after salutations” for reference), such as in the following examples:
- Dear Ms. Smith,
- Dear Hiring Manager,
- Dear Mr. George,
Always leave a blank line below the salutation before beginning the first paragraph. The space helps the cover letter read more neatly.
After all of the setup is finished, you can actually begin to write your cover letter!
4. Introduce yourself, including your year and major
On-campus jobs are often those within a certain department of the university, and as such, recruiters are often interested in what the applicants are studying.
Students in relevant majors are more likely to get the job, such as an anthropology student getting a job as an anthropology professor’s research assistant.
The applicant’s year is also relevant to the recruiter, as some jobs are better suited to students of different years.
Freshmen tend to be less concentrated in one area of study, so they may be chosen for administrative jobs or jobs within the campus gym or cafeteria. (Freshman have plenty of good things to boast about on their cover letters, however. Check out some career highlights for freshmen for ideas.)
Jobs which are more intensive in a certain area or have greater levels of responsibility (such as internships or research jobs) best suit upperclassmen, such as juniors or seniors.
This introductory information can be formatted in a number of ways, but is often written in a single sentence such as the following examples.
Then you can move on to write the bulk of the information in the following few paragraphs.
5. Write the body paragraphs describing your qualifications
The body paragraphs of a cover letter are for telling the recruiter why you are a good fit for the job.
Be careful not to summarize everything in your resume here, as that is not the point of the cover letter. Highlight the specific skills, interests, or other reasons which you believe make you an excellent candidate.
For university students, this is the place to include information about a relevant part-time job, any relevant school club responsibilities, or how your interests align with the position in question.
It is also common for students to include their GPAs here, although GPA should not be included on resumes or cover letters for working adults after university. It is best practice to round the GPA to one decimal point, and only include it if it’s over 3.5.
It goes without saying that this section will look vastly different for each person depending on their situation, but here’s an example of the types of paragraphs which might be found on a cover letter for a fitness job.
The more you can tailor this part of the cover letter to the specific job, the better.
A recruiter may not be interested in your experience waitressing, but they are likely to appreciate your ability to multi-task, or your friendly demeanor and customer service skills.
Try to keep the body of the cover letter between 3-5 paragraphs, as anything more is probably summarizing the resume too much. In the final paragraph, you should also include a note about your availability!
6. Describe your availability for the semester
University students are understandably busy with classes, as their top priority as students is to learn and study.
Any on-campus job recruiter will know this and will work with a student’s schedule, but some jobs will require a certain availability.
Writing a cover letter for a summer job is very different than writing one for spring semester. Availabilities change for students from semester to semester, so the availability section of a cover letter will change for each new semester of the year.
If a job posting is specifically looking for someone Mondays through Wednesdays 6-9pm, it would be a big plus to include the information that you are free during those times on a cover letter.
It’s not necessary to include the exact hours which you are free day to day. This should be a short, summarized version of your availability such as in the following examples.
If there are smaller stipulations such as “once a month I am busy on Wednesday”, it’s not necessary to include this information on the cover letter.
Just giving a general idea of your availability is enough at this stage; you can explain in further detail once you score an interview.
7. Include a professional complimentary closing and write your name
A complimentary closing is the line above the name at the bottom of a letter. Some complimentary closings include “Thanks”, “Regards”, or “Sincerely”.
For a cover letter, it is important to always use a professional complimentary closing. These can be chosen from the following list:
- Thank you,
- Thank you very much,
- Thank you for your time,
- Kind regards,
A comma is placed directly after the closing, as in the above examples.
Two lines below the complimentary closing, include your first and last name. Unlike when writing formal letters, you should not include a cursive signature on a cover letter for an on-campus job.
A signature would come across as a bit self-important for an applicant with little experience.
Also, contrary to cover letters of those with more experience, there is also no need to include the business name or position of the applicant below the name.
It is unlikely that a university applicant owns a business already, or has a high enough position to warrant including this information. Simply include a first and last name at the bottom of the cover letter, and leave it off there.
With that finished, you’ve completed the final step of writing a cover letter for an on-campus job! Give the whole thing a good check for spelling or grammatical errors, and then you’re ready to send it in.
A guide to cover letters wouldn’t be complete without showing some full examples, however, so let’s take a look at a few examples of cover letters. From there, you should be all set to write your own!
Cover letter for an on-campus job – personal trainer [Example]
John Smith38 Helway St.
Portland, ME 21968
50 Campus Dr. Apt.26
Portland, ME 21968
Dear Mr. Jones,
My name is John Smith, and I’m a third year studying health science at Portland University.
I am applying for the open position of personal trainer at the on-campus gym which was listed on the school website. The position was recommended to me by Professor Callum of the nutrition department.
I have participated in the annual Portland 10k marathon since I came to Portland University, and am also an active member of the Flippers swim team.
My current goal is to become a personal trainer after graduation, and I believe that this position will help to prepare me for the future. I have always enjoyed helping people meet their goals, and inspiring others to be their best selves.
I believe that I would be a great fit for the team, and would be happy to discuss fitness plans I’ve developed during my courses upon interview.
I am free to work weekdays after 5pm, and Sundays any time. Please feel free to reach out to me by email or phone. I look forward to hearing from you.
Cover letter for an on-campus job – writing center [Example]
Felicia Smith29 Cayman st. Unit 11 Wilshire, MA 13398 (888) 888-8888 [email protected]
Dear Mr. Gray,
My name is Felicia Smith. I am a second year at Meadowbrooke College majoring in American Literature. I heard about the open position in the writing center from Mrs. Holdsfield, and she recommended that I apply.
I have scored high marks on all of the essays and reports which I have written while here at the university, and have earned the Yarley Award for my entry into last year’s poetry competition here on campus.
I’ve always had a knack for composition, and also enjoy writing in my free time. I believe that I would be a good fit for the writing center position as I have helped many other students in classes and in the poetry club.
If you are interested, I would be happy to provide samples of both my technical writing and my creative writing. Please feel free to contact me by phone or email.
Thank you for your consideration,
Cover letter for an on-campus job – cafeteria worker [Example]
Russel D’von18 Franco St. Apt.3 Georgetown, NY 89273 (888) 888-8888 [email protected]
21 University St.
Georgetown, NY 89273
Dear Hiring Manager,
My name is Russel D’von, and I am a freshman at Connecticut University studying Biology.
I have not had a professional job before, but I do have experience helping with family dinners, as I come from a family of seven. I am able to cook basic meals, and I am a fast learner. I am also accustomed to washing dishes, and have knowledge of sanitation and cleaning.
I hope to be able to gain some experience with a part-time job alongside my studies, and I believe that this would be a valuable addition to my resume as a university student. I would be happy to try any position available within the cafeteria.
I am available Mondays through Thursdays from 5:00am to 9:00 am, and weekends any time. If possible, I am looking to keep my workload to about ten hours per week.
If you would like any additional information, please reach out to me by email or phone. I am looking forward to hearing from you!
Cover letter for an on-campus job – residence advisor (RA) [Example]
47 Learning Ave.
Yearton, WA 19048
Dear Mrs. Swetz,
My name is Joshua Kidman, and I am going to be a junior this upcoming semester at Washington University. I am majoring in modern dance with a minor in theater.
I am applying for a residence advisor position as I saw the opening on the school’s website. I have lived in the dorms of Washington University since I arrived as a freshman, and I have always admired the way the current RAs create a sense of community among the residents.
I have taken part in many community nights in the student lounge, and it has continued to be a place for meeting new friends, and connecting with old ones.
I feel strongly about wanting to continue these traditions, and would love to be a part of the staff which conducts them. Academically, I have been on the honor roll during both my years here. I have also been a part of the tap and hip-hop dance groups at Washington University for 1.5 years.
I have many ideas for new events which I could introduce as an RA, and I would love to share my thoughts. If chosen, I guarantee that I can help new students feel at home quickly, like I did when I first started my life in the dorms.
You can reach out to me by phone or email anytime. Thank you for your consideration.
Cover letter for an on-campus job – community center [Example]
George Howard98 2nd St. Pittsburg, VA 29102 (888) 888-8888 [email protected]
47 Commercial St.
Pittsburg, VA 29102
Dear Ms. Marin,
My name is George Howard, and I am applying for the open position at the community center at Thompson Hall. I am currently a sophomore in the Liberal Arts program.
Although we already know each other due to my time spent at the community center, I hope that my academic accomplishments reflect the type of student and worker I am as well.
I have maintained a GPA of 3.8 during my time at university, and am participating in the math league here on campus. I have spent many of my evenings studying and collaborating with others in the Thompson Community Center, so I am familiar with many of the events held there.
I am also proficient in tutoring, and have held many study sessions at the community center with other students in my classes.
I would be glad to work at the community center in a professional capacity, as I feel like it would help to round out my resume as an undergraduate. It would also give me experience as a working adult, which I feel would help me to grow as a person.
I am available Tuesdays and Thursdays after 6pm, and other weekdays after 7pm.
Please feel free to reach out to me in person, by email, or by phone. Thank you for the opportunity.
These are just a few ways in which a cover letter for an on-campus job might be worded.
The most important things to get across to a university recruiter are that you are doing well in school, you are responsible, and that you have a strong interest in the job.
University recruiters are generally quite lenient on students, as students rarely have career experience. Therefore, the cover letter plays a large part in a student’s application.
It’s a bit cheesy, but follow your heart! If you are passionate about a subject, let it show.
The people who are hiring for it likely have a passion for it as well, and are looking for students to share it with.
By following the steps we have laid out, you can be sure that you have the best chance of landing the position you are seeking. Best of luck with the job hunt!
Frequently asked questions on cover letters
Should you include the date on a cover letter?
Whether or not to include the date on a cover letter is a highly contested point. Some people choose to include it, and others do not. Most cover letters are sent by email, so the date is already shown. If you wish to add the date to the letter, put it in the line above the sender’s name.
Do you need to include a cover letter for on-campus jobs?
Unless a job posting specifically asks for a cover letter, it is not necessary to include one. Cover letters can be quite useful for students, however. Especially for those lacking in professional experience, cover letters are a great way to show passion and eagerness for a job while in university.
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