Workshop Wednesday – September 26, 2012

Each Wednesday I randomly select a cover letter sent in by sports job seekers and critique the letter. If you want to know more about how it works or how to send in your cover letter, see this post.

I have left comments open, but I will only approve comments with respectful questions or comments.

Please note, names and companies have been changed to protect anonymity. This person is applying for an internship with a professional sports league.

Dear Mr. [Smith]:

My lifelong dream is to work in professional [sport].  I started to prepare for this with a minor in Sports Management at the [University of X]. As part of my program, I developed a report covering the economic impact of a sports event on a city, created a presentation to gain corporate sponsorship, formed an event risk management plan and wrote a press release for minor league baseball.

I cringed when I read your first sentence, because I always get nervous when people use the words “dream” or “passion”. However, after reading the rest of the paragraph I relaxed because clearly this is more than just a pipe dream. You’ve actively worked toward accomplishing this goal. But… your letter kind of fell apart for me after this strong start. See below.

I am a self-starter and enjoy taking on a leadership role. One college summer I had the title of Camp Coordinator at the [Former Player Camp]. It became clear to those managing the camp that I could take on a bigger role and I ended up running the camp’s daily operations. In addition, I have been coached by well known retired players and coaches such as [X, Y and Z]. These professionals offered insight into the game from both a business and playing perspective. This experience also enabled me to feel comfortable speaking with players and coaches.

One small grammar issue – “well known” should be “well-known”. But since I’m about to tell you to ditch that part altogether, don’t worry about it.

I love self-starters. Makes all the difference in the world. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to impress someone during your internship if you’re not a self-starter. While I think you started to show and not tell, I don’t think you’re quite there yet. Tell me why it became clear to your managers that you could take on a bigger role. What did you do in such a short period that proved that to them?

As far as your experience with retired players and coaches, I’m not sure it’s worth putting in here. I think it’s expected you’ll conduct yourself professionally around athletes and coaches, so I don’t know if this is your best use of space in your cover letter. Now, if one of those guys was willing to serve as a reference for you, that might be worth mentioning.

The biggest problem is that I find the information in this paragraph far less interesting than the things you mentioned in the first paragraph. I would have preferred to see you expand on those experiences.

I would appreciate the opportunity to talk with you about an internship and how I might contribute to the further growth of [professional sports league].

John Doe

Overall, this isn’t a bad cover letter at all. It’s very concise, which is tough for many applicants. I just found myself wishing you told me more about the things you did in the first paragraph. I’d rather hear examples of skills you’ve gained and utilized than about your encounters with former players and coaches.


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