Countless cover letters: Applying for summer internships

American Poet Wallace Stevens once wrote, “After the final no there comes a yes / And on that yes the future world depends.”

Yes, I know that was an incredibly cheesy way to open this post, but this past spring I realized how true it is. I’d heard people tout the common career trope countless times as they reflected back on the moment when it all changed for them. That that one momentous “yes” came after a myriad of “nos.” 

That’s exactly what I experienced as I embarked on the journey of applying to summer internships for the first time. I hoped to obtain an internship that focused on writing and communications, and thus applied to many media outlets and communications departments at non-profits. I wrote too many cover letters to count. I can’t even remember half of the many companies and organizations I sent application materials to. 

Yes, it is true that you will receive far more nos than yesses. I definitely did. But what people don’t tell you is that the most common response you will receive will be absolute silence. Even after follow up emails, the large majority of places I contacted never responded to me. For a while it felt like I was shouting into the void, and every day I lost a little bit of hope of ever getting that miraculous “yes.”

And then I did. And then I did again.

The first yes came from the Manhattan Borough President’s Office (MBPO), where I was offered an internship in the Communications department. A week later, I got my second yes from Straus News Manhattan, a group of local newspapers. 

The Manhattan Municipal Building, where the Manhattan Borough President’s Office is! Photo:  Creative Commons

Luckily, I was able to accept both, as the newspaper internship was only two days a week and I could choose to work part-time at the MBPO, so I’m there the other three days of the week.

Everything truly fell into place perfectly. Now, I’m able to both learn more about newspaper writing by writing my own articles in Straus News’ downtown paper “Our Town Downtown” and discover how an elected official works with the press and communicates with its constituents. 

I love walking the streets of New York and passing by Our Town Downtown newspaper stands. Here you can see my first article, “The Place Where Pride Began,” printed on the front page!

However, it’s important to note that internships can be inaccessible to many people, as a large amount of students simply cannot afford to do them, especially if they are unpaid and require relocation for the summer. Luckily, the WashU Career Center offers stipends to help ensure that students can reach their career and educational goals through summer internships.

The Career Center was also very helpful in guiding me through my application process. I met with a career counselor multiple times to work on my resume, cover letters, and LinkedIn profile. I was also given great advice about online resources to search for job postings and types of organizations to contact. I had the chance to talk to a couple alums working in fields of interest to me who provided wonderful insight. 


Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Smart, hard-working, and incredibly nice! It’s an honor to work for her. Photo: Wikipedia

I am excited to share more about my internships in a post soon, but right now I want to circle back to my initial point. Especially as you experience the college application process, the idea of a “no” can seem incredibly daunting. This experience has taught me that if you keep knocking on enough doors, eventually one will open. Maybe even two!