All posts by Mary Becelia

A FEW WORDS ON COVER LETTERS

coverletter

It’s always a good time when you are staring at a blank screen, wondering where to start. You got your resume written, revised it multiple times and finally polished it to the point of perfection. You felt really, really good about that… for about two days. Then you realized: The Cover Letter. A new mountain to climb, a new writing style to master.  Forget it, you think, I’ll watch some funny cat videos instead…

Not so fast!  If you want a decent job or internship you are going to have to come to grips with writing a cover letter sooner or later.  It had might as well be sooner, right?  And since a picture (or an example) is worth a thousand words, I’ve provided one, below.  And because this whole cover letter writing business is so miserable to start with, I’ve taken a little artistic liberty and gone to Hollywood to craft my sample. Enjoy!

 

22 Your Street

Los Angeles, CA 22222

March 4, 20–

 

Ms. Christina Aguilera

Diva

11 Hollywood Ave

Hollywood, CA  11111

 

Dear Ms. Aguilera:

While chatting recently with Lydia Johnson, nanny to Sandra Bullock’s  son Louis, I learned that you are seeking a new nanny for your son, Max, and soon-to-be newborn baby.  Knowing of my extensive background caring for children from the newborn stage up through the early teen years, Lydia thought that I would be perfect for this position.  My current employers, Calista Flockhart and Harrison Ford, have decided that their son Liam, at age 13, no longer needs a full-time nanny and thus I was thrilled to hear of this opening in your household.

Lydia tells me that you are looking for an energetic, active nanny who preferably is fluent in Spanish and English. As an avid runner and yoga student since my days at the University of Mary Washington, I am definitely fit and active; ready to keep up with your son and also care for your newborn.  My undergraduate minor in Spanish and time spent helping Liam with his homework (he attends an immersion program intended to foster fluency in Spanish) mean that I am near-fluent in Spanish. I also took many trips to South and Central America with the Flockhart/Ford family where I became very familiar with Latino culture and customs.

Before holding this job, I was employed for three years by Heidi Klum. In that time Ms. Klum had two babies and thus I am also very familiar and comfortable caring for infants and toddlers.   I know that your career entails a good deal of travel and understand that you like to bring your son along as much as possible. Thanks to my years working with the Flockhart/Ford and Klum families (and before that, as an au pair for three summers while in college), I am familiar with the ups and downs of travelling with children and have excellent abilities in terms of being flexible to your requirements while also meeting their needs and keeping their routine as consistent as possible.

Attached is a copy of my resume with more details on my professional childcare background. I look forward to hearing back from you and hope that we can meet soon for an interview.

Sincerely,

Gabrielle Smith

 

Note: This letter incorporates a contact name and some implied relationship. Apparently, Lydia knows Ms. Aguilera (or at any rate knows her current nanny) and has the inside scoop on her childcare opening. She is providing an indirect referral of the applicant by sharing this information. Any time  you have an indirect referral be sure to mention the person’s name in the very first paragraph (if not the first sentence) of your cover letter. (To be on the safe side, clear this with them before you write the letter, though).  This use of a familiar name will establish a connection between you and the prospective employer that might otherwise not exist and will help to make your letter stand out from the rest.

Please note: due to formatting that I could not overcome (learning curve, people, learning curve!) the addresses came out double spaced.  In reality, they should be single spaced within each address with a double space between the letter’s date and the recipient’s address.

Next blog post: a “cold” cover letter (no implied relationship).

Disclaimer:  All the above is fictional! Yes, Calista Flockhart has a son named Liam. But does he study Spanish and has he outgrown a full-time nanny? I have no idea! And yes,  Christina Aguilera has a son named Max and, as of this writing, is expecting a baby. But is she seeking a nanny? Again, no clue here! 

And oh yes, I agree, Christina Aguilera would no doubt have an assistant vet the applications for a nanny position. So let’s assume this one made the first cut and is being considered by the star herself, in some alternate universe! Good luck, Gabrielle!

 

 

Lesson Learned

For nearly two years I have had a second (or is it a third? Or fourth? Does being a mom count as a job?) job as Blogs Community Manager at Fredericksburg Parent and Family. I LOVE this job. I get to read a variety of posts on topics related to parenting AND I get to brainstorm with the writers, suggest topics, edit their posts as needed, and promote them to the readers of Fred. Parent via Facebook.  I also develop relationships with these talented writers and remind them to post in a regular manner. I mean, who wants to read a blog that is only posted to every couple of months?

Er. Yes. I’ve noticed the disconnect. While I am busy cracking the whip at the Fred Parent writers, my own blog sits and languishes. Not quite at the “every two months” scenario, but I’m not exactly setting the world on fire here either.  Maybe I need an external whip cracker too, since my self-motivation seems to be a bit weak.

I could say, and it would be true, that there are always a hundred things vying for my attention. On the home front: we got that snow I was warbling about in my last post and despite it being only 2-3″ the kids were out of school ALL WEEK. Yes, ALL WEEK.  Here in Virginia we take our snow SERIOUSLY. 

That span was a never-ending cycle of wiping snow and mud off the floor, running gloves and hats through the dryer and making what felt like a million mugs of hot cocoa for the enthusiastic sledders.  Yep, that week threw me off any semblance of a schedule whatsoever. Work, writing, you name it, it was buried under an “avalanche” of snow.

On the UMW front (when I finally made it back in, post-Snowpocolypse, and reintroduced myself to my co-workers), it is spring semester. The office I work in serves all students, including seniors. Who, drumroll please, are waking up (as they always do this time of year) and realizing that: OHMYGODIAMGRADUATINGINAFEWMONTHSANDINEEDAJOB!!!  As our office includes “Career Services” prominently in the title, where do you think their professors and parents are sending them? You got it, camera zoom to yours truly. Thus work has been, oh, a wee bit busy of late as well.

Not that I would be writing this blog on work time. Perish the thought! Even though it is related to my work (role model, etc, see this post: http://www.marybecelia.com/uncategorized/new-year-fresh-start/), but I might at least be running ideas through my head or pondering funny topics if I was not slammed with seniors looking for resume and job search assistance every minute of every work day (or so it feels some days).

And then there was the post-I-lost. It was SO frustrating to write some of the best prose I have ever, ever written (or so I can say now that it’s vanished) and then, like an idiot, turn off my computer one night without saving it.  Bye-bye brilliant blog post. (Again, it will live on for all time, or as long as my feeble memory can hold onto it, as the wittiest, most wonderful piece of writing ever produced by me and no one can dispute it. I know. That may not be saying much).

But back the beginning of this post. I’ve learned, through my little blogging adventure, how hard it can be to post regularly. I realize, more than ever, what a great job the Fred Parent bloggers (and bloggers everywhere!) are doing. Many of you have lives that are far more hectic and demanding than mine. Most of you probably don’t have a Mary reminding/encouraging you to post, yet you write diligently and post regularly! 

Like many things (parenting, as one small example), I never appreciated the effort involved in keeping a blog up until I tried it myself. I will try to be inspired and not overwhelmed and whip myself along as best I can.  And if any of you want to check out the blogs I am referring to, and actually find some that are posted to on a consistent basis, why thank you for asking! Here is a link: http://www.fredericksburgparent.net/blogs

 

Waiting for the Snow

So, my eyes popped open at 5:30 AM today. Last I heard the snow was supposed to start at 6:00 AM. Dashed to the window, all of five years old again for a moment. Nada.  So I went back to bed and gave it the old college try. Except back in my college days I was sometimes going to bed at 5:30 AM, not ever getting up. At any rate, I knew getting back to sleep would  be a fail and it was. Gave up at 6:00 AM (still no white stuff) and staggered downstairs in search of caffeine and my first hit of Facebook.

As I type this, it’s a bit after 7:00 AM and (still): no snow. But that’s ok, the most recent word from my friends Chris and Dee over at B101.5 (http://www.b1015.com/) is that it’s supposed to start at 10:00 AM. 2.5 hours til lift off, folks!

So I’m enjoying the proverbial calm before the storm. Before my two kids come barreling down the stairs and start their own personal snow watch, blaming me if the flakes don’t fall fast enough and clamoring to get outside as soon as there is a dusting. My eight-year-old son wanted to lay out his snow pants, fireman-style, last night. My 11 year old daughter told me that, no, her old snow boots do not fit and, no the ones that I had planned to loan her won’t do either (too big). So we may have a problem there. Am trying not to think about it and humming “fiddle de dee” just like Scarlett O’Hara:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0hTvKgsKsY

The rest of the day is sure to be a messy one. Snow tracked in. Kids yelling and shouting with excitement. Moms (me) yelling as well. Wet mittens and scarves draped everywhere (“NOT OVER THE WOODEN CHAIR! HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU THAT?!”) and many mugs of hot cocoa. Maybe a movie once they get worn out from sledding and throwing snowballs. And extra practice time on the piano. Yes, I’m that kind of mom. “Snow day? Great! You have no reason not to get in a few extra minutes, guys!”  Ah, if only the extra time put in at the keyboard registered in terms of the progress they are (not) making. But that is a topic for another post. Right now I’m going to refill my coffee cup, sprinkle some bird seed outside for my feathered neighbors and keep an eye out for that first glorious flake!

New Year; Fresh Start!

After a bold and brill start, with references to hot movie of the fall, Mary’s Musings fell silent.  I know. You were devastated. My apologies.

During this silent period, the blog’s author read the long-awaited (well, by some) Bridget Jones sequel: Mad About the Boy.  Author is feeling very British in the wake of this experience.  However. Will try to refrain from references to calories and alcohol units consumed, as neither is appropriate or relevant to this milieu.  Which, ahem, is supposed to be professional.

So.  Let us start over. Just had a v. helpful meeting with Martha Burtis of the UMW IT Department, which rolled out the Domain of One’s own initiative at UMW last fall.  (http://umwdomains.com/).  Retained approximately 10% of information from this session…just enough to be dangerous, no doubt, and to feel sufficient confidence to resume posting.  My purported role in this project is to be one of many ambassadors to the UMW students, extolling the virtues of the domain  project and encouraging them to sign on.

I certainly AM on board with this idea. If you’d seen some of the social media presence exhibited by today’s students, you would be too!  Having a domain, like having a LinkedIn page should, in theory, be a way for the student to put forth their best foot. Impress employers/grad schools/future in-laws and the like with their academic and professional presence. As I am doing now, shining role model that I am/channeler of Bridget Jones that I aspire to be.

I am excited to learn more about managing my domain, to posting more frequently, to mixing in some a little serious information along with more amusing musings.  I plan to look online and find some of the outstanding domains that I know UMW students and faculty/staff are developing (I’ve already found several!). I appreciate all the time Martha gave me today, and even more the fact that she turned down the chocolates I offered her as thanks for her assistance…all the more for me to eat, you know!

In conclusion let me wrap up with: Chocolates consumed (Kisses and leftover Christmas loot)–six (so far). Calories: I have no idea, but the sugar rush will get me through at least the next hour or so!

Testing

I find myself thinking of the recent Sandra Bullock movie, GRAVITY, as I put this test message out there. Wondering if it will find its intended audience, and even who that audience is. Wondering if it will “arrive” at all. Hoping for success in this new venture (where the stakes are much lower than they were for the astronaut played by Sandra!) but concerned about glitches. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained as the old saying goes and so, onwards to hit the “Publish” key!