Could really use some cover letter advice for research assistant applications

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Nov 21, 2012
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I've got a really solid resume for research assistant positions put together for my gap years, but I have no idea where to start with my cover letter. I hate writing about myself. It's probably one of my least favorite things to do. What I could use some help on is:

Where to start?
What important points to include?
What to leave out?

A small little blurb about myself to get the ball rolling: I'm a graduating senior with a solid GPA, some good EC experiences, and great references (1 from research advisor, 1 from biochem professor (chair of bio department at my school), and my clinical volunteering coordinator). I want to do research for two years before I go off to medical school (I don't want to downplay this; I want these labs to know my life goals). I have little actual lab experience, but tons of quantitative and statistical experience with some research in theoretical chemistry (no lab component). Most of the places I'm applying would have me doing modeling/biostatistics work for policy and outcomes with a combinations of MD and PhD PIs. I want to do research, because I love scientific inquiry. I love coming up with an idea that no one has ever come up with before. I love struggling through difficult problems and geting the result I was hoping for or surprising ones I didn't expect. I also want research to be a part of my entire medical career. I don't see myself as purely an academic, but I have too much curiosity to be strictly a clinician as well. I also feel like I might want to touch on wanting to see medicine from a public health/policy standpoint, so that I know everything that goes into giving patients the best possible care from the high level policy stuff down to the patient-physician interactions.


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7+ Year Member
May 26, 2012
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Keep in mind that cover letters are not personal statements. In a personal statement you describe your best qualities and life experiences in the framework of a narrative. In a cover letter you just get right to the point and flat out tell them "this is why you should hire me". Make it short (half a page single spaced), and don't bother discussing your motivations beyond "I want the job" (if anyone wants to know they'll ask you during the interview). The points you want to cover are whatever provide evidence that you're qualified for the job.