Workshop Wednesday – January 16, 2013

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 Workshop Wednesday 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 a sports medicine internship with a professional sports team.

To whom it may concern,

I am applying for the Sports Medicine intern position for the 2013 [Team] season.

For much of my youth I participated in various sports including soccer, golf, hockey, and football. I was a three-year varsity starter on my high school football team as an offensive lineman. My passion for sports lead me to [University] where I majored in Athletic Training. During that time I had the honor of working with every sport as well as working as an aide in a local physical therapy clinic and providing Athletic Training services to a local high school football team. I graduated in 2009 and passed my national certification exam on my first attempt.

I would combine these first two paragraphs into one. I’d cut the first three sentences of what is now the second paragraph and go straight into mentioning that your experience and national certification make you qualified for the opening. Also, in the second to last sentence, I don’t think it’s necessary to capitalize “Athletic Training”.

*Update: I received this message in the comments: “There is a concerted effort within the NATA community to distinguish Athletic Trainers from other kinds of trainers. While I agree that ‘athletic training’ doesn’t not need to be [capitalized], there are some hiring ATCs that would be looking for ‘Athletic Trainer’ to be capitalized.”

During my sophomore year our head Trainer [name] graced me with my first assignment as an Athletic Training student by making me head student Trainer for the tennis team. My duties included providing water and Gatorade to the team during practice and home matches, taping, wound care, and on site injury evaluation. I was also responsible for managing any treatments the team required. These treatments were generally pain modalities such as ice, Electrical stimulation, and ultrasound. Stretching was also a common in season treatment. I was also responsible for inputting all pertinent personal and medical history information into SportsWare injury tracking software and logging all treatments into the system. This experience showed me much about what it meant to be an Athletic Trainer and drove my passion to continue in the field.

“Trainer” and “Athletic Training” don’t need to be capitalized. In the second sentence, I think it should be “on-site injury evaluation”. I also wouldn’t capitalize “Electrical” in the fourth sentence, and I think it should be “in-season treatment” in the fifth sentence.

I’ve got more comments… but I’m saving them for the end.

My junior year, while working with the baseball team, I was exposed to my first major injury. One of our players separated his AC joint during a collision at first base. I was giving the privilege of helping to create and execute the treatment plan and was able to assist in providing treatments beginning post-surgery and continuing through full return to participation. During this time a friend of mine who I played football with in high school and was a member of the [University] football team completely tore his ACL and damaged his meniscus. Again I was honored to be allowed to be involved in creating a plan of care and worked with him during daily treatments until he was able to return to full activity. I was also responsible for covering home football games for [High School]. This was my first solo experience as an Athletic Trainer. It taught me a lot about communicating with athletes, parents, and coaches as well as allowed me to make decisions about return to play and referral choices.

It was also during my junior year that I was assigned to a rotation at [physical therapy company]. It was during this time that I discovered my love for rehabilitation. Due to my proficiency providing exercise instruction and skill at providing care the owner hired me as an aide. I worked as an exercise coordinator providing treatment plan implantation, progression input, and documentation. My time with [physical therapy company] was the beginning of a love for physical therapy that I am pursuing to this day.

My senor year I was co-head student Trainer for the [University] football team. My fellow student and I were responsible for providing for all hydration needs during practice and games as well as providing wound care and pre and post practice treatments. We were also responsible for keeping track of training room inventory, equipment and training room maintenance and sanitation, and communication with coaches and players about injuries, rehabilitation, and return to play status. During this time I also had the honor of working with our team physicians conduction pre participation screenings, in season injury evaluation, and treatment plan creation and implementation. I also worked closely with the women’s water polo team, men’s soccer team, and track and field.

After college I worked for [another physical therapy company] for two and a half years. My duties were similar to my time with [the first physical therapy company] but it was here I discovered my passion and skill for functional sports rehabilitation and return to play decision making. Progressive worked with many of the local High School athletes and it was my responsibility to conduct late stage functional rehab and sports specific exercise. The Physical Therapists often looked to me for creation of appropriate exercises as well as teaching and supervision of these exercises. Many of our patients were able to return to their sports without further injury after completing their treatment protocols. On of our patients is now playing fast pitch and [University] thanks in part to the sports specific rehabilitation she completed under my supervision. We also had two youth soccer players with IT band syndrome who successfully completed therapy and were taught the skills needed to continue successful preventative care.

During my time with [second physical therapy company] I had the good fortune of being introduced to a retired Orthopedic surgeon Dr. [Brown]. He was in charge of providing medical staff for all the [City] Unified school district sporting events. With his recommendation I provided medical coverage for all home football games for [High School] as well as covering games for other high schools. During these events it was my responsibility to see to the needs of both teams. It was during my first year with [City] Unified that one of our football players suffered a complete Tibia and Fibula fracture during a football game. That experience was one of the most intense I had encountered in my career and the successful management of the situation gave me the strength and confidence to continue to improve and expand my career. I also had the opportunity to provide coverage for cross-country meets. In 2011 I was picked to cover the men’s and women’s western division soccer and track and field Championships.

I am currently employed by [third physical therapy company] as the Athletic Trainer for [High School].  My current work with the athletes has given many more opportunities to improve my evaluation, treatment, taping, and prevention skills. During the fall I worked with football, girls soccer, cheerleading, and girls volleyball. Many of our athletes sustained concussions during the course of the season, two of which required hospital visits, and I have had the opportunity to work with these athletes, their parents, coaches, and school staff to create and facilitate a successful plan of care.  With the collaboration of Dr. [Green] and other key individuals, I am proud to say that all of these athletes were able to return to playing the sports they love. The most challenging injury I have faced in my brief time here has been a basketball player with a partial ACL tear. Initially the decision was made to not have surgery. The physical rehabilitation is going well but tackling the mental aspects of the injury and rehabilitation has proved to be challenging. With the continued support of his family, coaching staff, players, and other medical professionals I believe he will make a full recovery and return to basketball.

It is also my great pleasure to work with the students in the fledgling sports medicine education program here at [High School]. Teaching and mentoring your professionals has forced me to examine much of what I have learned over the years and find ways to make it understandable to others. It has taught me a lot about communicating with people and providing understandable information. It has also forced me to examine everything that I do to make sure I am setting a good example for the students. I have a new respect for those who have put forth the effort to teach and mentor others and myself. I have come to find it is a challenging yet rewarding endeavor.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I am thankful for the opportunity to apply for this position.

John Doe

I stopped marking comments when I realized how much this needs to be reworked and how much of it needs to go.

The biggest issue here is length. What you’ve done is turn everything on your resume into a narrative. You want to use your cover letter to highlight a few select experiences and/or skills that are relevant for the position at hand. I don’t claim to know much about athletic training, but I do think everything you’ve listed here is relevant… that’s not the issue.

No one is ever going to give your cover letter this much time. You’ve done a great job of giving specific examples – of showing and not telling, which you know I chastise almost everyone for during Workshop Wednesday. It’s too much though. You’ve got to pick just a few examples and let your resume tell the rest of the story.

I wish I could give more guidance about what to keep and what to cut, but it’s a considerable amount of material, and my knowledge of athletic training is minimal. I can give you some basic guidelines though. Don’t go year by year. That’s part of what makes it read like a resume in the narrative form. Do keep in mind that resumes usually go in reverse chronological order. Why? Because your most recent job probably showcases your most advanced skill set. You don’t need to detail what you were doing sophomore year – you can start with your most recent position and highlight experience and skills from that position. If there’s something particularly noteworthy about a previous position, or something you did in that position you haven’t done in the most recent position, then you can backtrack and mention it.

You should keep your cover letter to one page. This was two and a half pages when I opened it in Word.


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  • Tammi
    January 16, 2013

    I agree with many of your comments but would add one alternative perspective. There is a concerted effort within the NATA community to distinguish Athletic Trainers from other kinds of trainers. While I agree that ‘athletic training’ doesn’t not need to be, there are some hiring ATCs that would be looking for ‘Athletic Trainer’ to be capitalized. That said, it stood out more (to me) that in later paragraphs, s/he capitalized ‘Trainer’ without using the more formal Athletic Trainer. It’s a nuance, certainly, but it can make a tangible difference depending on the perspective of the person doing the hiring.

    Great analysis of the letter though, especially re the length!

  • Jake
    January 16, 2013

    Thanks for the comments. I will certainly take the advice into consideration.