Engineering companies get bucket loads of requests for work experience, so how can you make your work experience letter stand out from the crowd? What is going to make them shout “Crikey, we’ve got to get this person in!”?
1. Show them that you can genuinely offer them something;
2. Tailor your work experience letter to their company;
3. Keep it short.
The golden rule when applying for work experience is: “it’s all about what you can offer them, not what they can offer you.” You might be foaming at the mouth to work for a particular company, but why should they be as keen as beans to have you?
Some work experience letter basics…
Always assume the person who will read your work experience letter is busy; they won’t want to spend longer than a few minutes reading your letter.
Long poetic sagas extolling your virtues are out; short, snappy letters are most certainly in. Your letter should really be three to four short paragraphs and no longer than an A4 page.
Bear in mind also that most engineering firms are pretty strait-laced, so sending in a letter that says “Oi guv, giv us sum work experience” won’t impress. Your letter should be professional and formal.
Also, you should research the firm before you write the letter. You should know who they are and what they do. Try and find out about their work experience opportunities and come up with some convincing reasons why you want work experience with them, e.g. something other than “It’ll look good on my CV”.
In its very basic form, your engineering work experience letter will most likely answer these four questions:
1. Who are you?
2. Why are you writing to me?
3. Why do you want to do work experience at this firm?
4. Why should we offer you work experience?
Addressing your work experience letter
Try and address your engineering work experience letter to a named person (find out who you are writing to). Use a formal business letter template: your address and the name and address of recipient should be at the top of the letter. If you are emailing them, put the cover letter in the body of the email and omit the addresses.
This is where you might want to answer the “who are you?” and “why are you writing to me?” questions. If it’s a speculative engineering work experience letter, you might say something like: “I’m writing to enquire whether your firm offers work experience opportunities for first year university students. I’m in my first year of an MEng in Mechanical Engineering at the University of AllAboutCareers…” or something similar.
If you are writing in response to an advertised work experience vacancy, then you should mention the vacancy and how you heard about the opportunity (particularly if you were referred by a mutual acquaintance). You might want to give a unique reason why you’d be fantastic for their company.
Introduction over, now it’s time to plunge headfirst into why you want work experience at that particular engineering company. For that, you’ll need to know exactly what they do and what areas of work you’re interested in. Tell them exactly what it is about their company that appeals.
This is the important bit: you should explain exactly what it is that makes you an excellent work experience candidate. Think about the skills or qualities you have that will be an asset to the company.
This might mean telling them about certain technical knowledge or skills you possess. For example, you might want to highlight your CAD skills, competence with certain software, or other relevant skills.
If they’ve listed any specific attributes in their work experience advertisement, which they’re expecting candidates to possess, then you’ll need to show that you have them.
Make sure you showcase the skills or technical knowledge that they ask for in the job brief and back everything up with evidence.
This should be very brief. State when you are available for work experience (if it’s a speculative application) or interview. Be positive: “I’m looking forward to your reply.”
You should end the letter “Yours sincerely” if it’s being sent to a named person; if you haven’t managed to find out a name then use “Yours faithfully” followed by your name (obviously!).
Of course, the above structure is by no means set in stone, feel free to play around with the structure and content of your letter, but always try and keep it professional.
Right, so you’ve written it, let’s fire it off then? Hold your horses! It isn’t over until the proofreader sings. By proofreader, we mean you. Scour every inch of your covering letter for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. After all, these faux pas are the mark of an amateur. Get your friends or family to check it over too.