Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How to Write Cover Letters

The cover letter is your introduction to an employer on paper. It is designed to accompany a resume when you apply for a job. The goal of the cover letter is to tell the employer why you are appropriate for this position, and why they should review your resume for further consideration. Write the letter to sell yourself for the particular job you are seeking. Identify your experience, education, and skills that are most directly related to that job. Highlight items covered in your resume, but DO NOT repeat your resume. You want the employer to READ your resume so only give the most important pieces of information from your resume, written in concise sentences that tell the SHORT story of you. Continue to use the key words from your resume to focus on your skills.
 A cover letter should be no more than one page. You MUST INCLUDE:
  • What position you are applying for
  • How you found out about the position
  • Why you want to work for THIS company
  • Why you are the RIGHT person for the
  • How your education and area of study fit with the position 
  • How your past experience has prepared you for this position (focus on SKILLS)
  • How to contact you
Cover Letter Format
  • Be sure your letter is individually tailored for the job (never a form letter).
  • Address it to the contact individual by name (call and find out the name if you do not know it), including his or her correct job title, company name, and address. As a last resort, use the title given on the job description such as “Dear Intern Coordinator” but please do NOT use “To whom it may concern”.
  • Write in your own words in a conversational style with short sentences.
  •  Start with an introduction paragraph, followed by one or two paragraphs covering your education and experience, emphasizing the skills you have that match the position.
  •  Close with a summary statement about your qualifications and interest and a request for action (ask them to contact you). Include both your phone number and email address as forms of contact and end with a “thank you” for consideration.
  • Remember to sign the letter. When online applications are preferred, try to use an electronic signature or scan a copy of your letter with a true signature.
  • When emailing your application, attach both the resume and cover letter. DO NOT write the cover letter in the body of the email. The body of your email should say something like, “Please see the attachments as my application for the policy analyst position.”
If you need a cover letter reviewed or want to discussion the position your applying for, set up an appointment with us on Connections!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Professional Development Funds

What is the Professional Development Fund?
The purpose of the Professional Development Fund (PDF) is to defray some of the travel and other expenses incurred by students for participation in internships, conferences or GSPIA-approved study abroad programs; doctoral students may also request funding to support dissertation research. In making its allocations, the PDF committee considers the quality of the student’s academic record, financial need, and the merit of the proposed activity. 

When is the application due?
There are three rounds of funding - October, March, and May. Applications are typically due on the 10th of the month of each round. The application is completed online through GSPIA Connections. An email announcement will be made when each round's application period opens.

How much funding can I apply for?
The amount of funds granted will typically represent only part of total expenses and students should expect to receive no more than $500 to support a U.S. conference trip, $1000 to support a U.S. internship, $2000 to support an international conference/study trip or internship, $2000 to support U.S. dissertation research, and $5000 to support international dissertation research.
*Please note doctoral candidates can only apply in the October Round for dissertation research funding.

What are some basic guidelines for the application?
The PDF is a competitive process for students to apply for funding. You need to make sure you follow the directions provided. Consideration for your application is based on academic merit, financial need, completeness of application, and how you prepare your budget. Therefore, you need to pay close attention to the funding maximum for the eligible funding expenses. Funding is not guaranteed.

What are the endowments?
Depending the round for which you are applying, there are several endowments available for students to apply. Endowments are made of monies donated to GSPIA for specific purposes. If you are considering applying for funding, please carefully read the endowment guidelines. You will need to submit additional materials.

What are the budget details?
All expenses must be budgeted for in the original application and accompanied by an original receipt per the University of Pittsburgh policy. The award letter will indicate the expenses approved for reimbursement. In the event of a destination or purpose change, a revised application and budget must be submitted for review and approval. Below is a guide of allowable and unallowable expenses. This is not all-inclusive.
*Note: Expenses can only be reimbursed for after the trip/event has occurred per University policy. Students are required to complete a Travel and Business Expense Report Form for reimbursement (University-approved form).

What are generally allowable items on the PDF?
These items must be included in your budget and accompanied by an original receipt.
  • Airfare (require receipt and Boarding Passes)
  • Lodging (only outside Pittsburgh lodging)
  • Transportation
  • Registration Fees
  • Program Fees
  • Enrollment Fees
  • Mileage on a personal vehicle in lieu of gas reimbursement. Gas receipts are required as the form of back-up. When a personal car is used (per the application), mileage will be reimbursed at the approved rates.
What are items NOT allowed on the PDF?
These items are NOT allowed in your budget for the PDF.
  • Any items that are NOT accompanied by an original receipt
  • Per Diem (Receipts are required for reimbursement)
  • Clothing
  • Food/Meals (includes drinks and groceries)
  • Entertainment/Excursion costs (i.e. city tours)
  • Passport Fees
  • Health Insurance
  • Cell phone, internet, or personal communication bills
  • Pittsburgh (hometown) rent & utilities while away (also includes if the trip/internship was also in the city)
  • Emergency funds, miscellaneous, or spending money categories will not be funded. A detailed description is required.
What is the time frame for the reimbursement?
Generally speaking, the University’s Payment Processing Department takes on average 3-4 weeks to process a payment. There is no guarantee on the time frame; however, it could take less or more time depending on their workload.

If you have any questions on the Professional Development Fund, you can contact Career Services.