A letter of intent is typically written by a student who is trying to sell himself to an undergraduate college/university, a graduate school, an athletic department at a college/university, or a business that provides an internship. The purpose of the letter of intent is a sales pitch. You are selling yourself and your abilities.
Writing a letter of intent is similar to writing a cover letter for your resume - so similar, in fact, that I recommend you check out Amazing Cover Letters for some solid advice. However, letters of intent are geared more toward student programs or entry-level positions.
As a student, you have probably spent a great deal of time researching the schools and programs that interest you. Once you have narrowed down your choices to the ones that you believe fit you the best, it's time to introduce your best self to the right people. That's where the letter of intent comes in.
So how do you write a letter of intent? Here is a basic letter of intent template:
- Determine the name and address of the right person to receive the letter. You don't want to address the letter to "Department Head" or worse yet, "To Whom it May Concern." Unless the letter is directly addressed to the right person, it's not likely to get read by that person. A quick phone call to the institution or place of business can usually get you the information you need.
- Write the letter using the proper business format. This is not a casual, friendly letter. It needs to look professional. Use a simple font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
- Introduce yourself in the first paragraph of the letter. Include what year you are in school, what school you currently attend, and any information that is pertinent. For example, if you are writing to the basketball department of a school, it would be appropriate to mention that you are the captain of your high school basketball team.
- Next, describe why you are writing the letter. Describe how you first learned about the school or program, and how you became excited about it.
- Now it's time to state your credentials. Tell the reader why he should consider you for this school/program. This can be in paragraph form or a bulleted list of your accomplishments. Be specific and be honest.
- In the following paragraph, say some good things about the school/program. Flatter the reader, but don't go overboard with flattery for fear of appearing insincere. Describe why you find the school/program so appealing, and how its strengths and your interests are ideally matched.
- Request a response. Express your desire for an interview. Make sure that you include all of your contact information in the letter so you can be contacted for the interview.
- Finish the letter with "Sincerely," and your signature.
- Length. Keep the letter to one page in length.
- Proofread. You are trying to sell yourself, and a misspelled word or typo can look very bad.
- Revise and let others see it. Show your letter to a guidance counselor or student advisor and ask if it is well done. Make changes if necessary.
- Make a copy of your letter before sending it. In the event that the letter is lost in transit, you then have the ability to resend without starting from scratch.
Here is a quick sample letter of intent, based on the letter of intent template above:
Dear Ms. Smith:
My name is Robin Shreeves and I'm a senior at Florida State University, majoring in physics. I've made the Dean's List every semester, and I'm writing to express my interest in your graduate physics program at the University of Texas.
I learned about the University of Texas graduate physics program in Physics Today magazine. When I saw what you did to revolutionize our understanding of magnetism, I dug deeper to learn more about what the program offers. The cutting edge research behind your program, combined with some of the greatest minds in physics as professors, make the University of Texas physics program a phenomenal place to expand my knowledge.
I would like to discuss this program with you over the phone. My phone number is 555-5555, and my email address is email@example.com.