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#122 Cover Letters from Unemployed Overachievers

December 26, 2011

Dear Hiring Manager for [insert International Humanitarian Organization],

I would like to apply for the position of [insert vague sounding job title that has no meaning outside of the given organization]. I believe that my educational background and skills make me uniquely suited to this position. So far in life I have proven myself capable of taking on the challenges required for this position, which I understand pays under $20,000 a year for working in one of the most dangerous countries in the world and undertaking tasks that no one else wants to do.

As you can see from my tiny-font, two page resume, I attended a top-level undergraduate university where I excelled at taking on more than I could possibly handle while maintaining a high GPA, completing 12 internships, and finding opportunities to travel to Western Europe where I was enthralled by the ancient architecture and many art museums. My travels prompted me to do a semester abroad where I discovered a disdain for “tourists” who travel in packs taking pictures of 50 monuments in a single day instead of spending hours at cafes drinking wine and smoking like real Europeans. After my study abroad experience, I completed my senior honors thesis on the topic of [insert esoteric topic of no interest to the majority of the world].

Upon graduation with highest honors, I took a year to backpack around the world to extremely poor countries where I spent most of my time drinking local beers and posing for pictures with street children. This experience led me to want to help alleviate poverty. I therefore obtained a volunteer position in which I dedicated a couple of years of my life to living in a mud hut. While I did not have cable television, I was able to use this time to learn curse words in five tribal languages, grow dreadlocks, drive a motorbike, learn to drum, and discover the real Africa. These skills will undoubtedly prove essential in my future career.

After this unique experience, I attended an ivy league graduate school where I obtained a Masters degree in appearing humble while actually making other people feel inadequate and uninformed. From my peers I soon learned that there is a hierarchy to international work, and I became determined to not just help poor people, but to help the poorest and most desperate people, preferably those living in war-torn countries under military dictatorships where the chance of being kidnapped, blown up, or summarily executed is very high. Only by working under the very worst of conditions can I prove to myself and my peers that I am in fact as ballsy as they are and just as willing to die for a project that is under-funded, poorly planned and probably has little chance of actually helping anyone.

This experience will allow me to live on a permanent adrenaline rush, which will mean that I do not need to use drugs the way my over-privileged peers do. At the same time, it will allow me to become more arrogant and cynical and give me the credibility needed to scoff at anyone who questions the effectiveness of my chosen career. Following this, I intend to return to my home country where I will land a cushy job at a university or think tank and get paid an exorbitant amount of money to create policy guidelines that are not possible to implement in the real world.

As you can see I have spent the past seven years of my life working unpaid internships for the friends of my semi well-connected parents, and am enormously in debt as a result of my determination to live in the world’s most expensive city while attending the world’s most expensive graduate school. While my high school friends are married with kids, houses, and cars, I am still using my parent’s address and couch surfing in a city where a glass of wine costs $12. However, a position at your organization will enable me to add to the number of visas in my passport, give me stories to tell about being shot at by rebel armies, and imagine that I am helping people by living in poverty with them.

Thank you for your consideration, I look forward to hearing from you.


E… W… S…

P.S. Do not ignore this cover letter because I have cc’d my professor who used to work for your organization as well as a family friend who is on your Board of Directors.

(Submitted to SEAWL by E.W.S; unfortunately SEAWL is currently underfunded and unable to justify an increase in headcount.)

47 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    December 26, 2011 9:02 am

    omg. I think I know this kid.

  2. mcdc permalink
    December 26, 2011 11:33 am

    Omg. I think I AM this kid.

  3. Tongue-In-Cheek permalink
    December 27, 2011 6:18 am

    “…I obtained a Masters degree in appearing humble while actually making other people feel inadequate and uninformed.” OK, sure, it seems like this happens all the time, but only because I am so humble, and they are so uninformed…. not that I mind – makes me look better. Thanks for hitting the nail on the top part… of the nail.

  4. james permalink
    December 30, 2011 8:17 pm

    Not only did this cv put a smile on my face it brings me back to the reality of living in a capitalist world economy. So many ways to bring hope to a few under privilege communities with little change and influence on the many… a nice thought for all of us to think and do better for other family’s and communities throughout the world for a better 2012

  5. Maria permalink
    January 2, 2012 6:52 pm

    there needs to be a post script about it being hard to do normal people things, like lease an apartment, after traveling for several years. i recently had to explain why there were 7 addresses on my credit check, none of which I’ve actually lived at, and begging friends to provide references that I can pay rent on time, because none of my prior “landlords” speak english.

    • January 3, 2012 9:31 am

      True story.

    • Elliott Prasse-Freeman permalink
      January 3, 2012 1:22 pm

      Yes, Maria! But in addition, and perhaps it’s just me, I have hard a time doing normal people things mostly because I never had the chance to do / never had an interest in doing / had a healthy martyr complex about being above them. To wit: in my 30s, have some expensive degrees … and was recently rejected for a Macy’s Credit Card. I have to “build credit” – wha?!

      An aside: something funny about a blog highlighting the cynicism of the aid worker machine and not realizing (?) that in so satirizing them, it is duplicating (redoubling) that cynicism…

    • caraka permalink
      January 20, 2012 10:46 pm

      Yes Maria, I get it. 10 weeks back from said mission in war torn African country and I lose my temper because my bathroom is such a shithole and why isn’t it getting cleaned? Well, I instantly realized, it was because I wasn’t cleaning it! God I miss my drivers and armed guards and cook and cleaner and administrative assistant and all those other jobs we created to gainfully employ as many locals as humanly possible… And readers here will think I’m joking. I’m serious. It played out this way for me! It’s hard coming home from the war, but it’s nice not getting shot at pretty much daily too.

      Re: the credit thing. you missed the boat. 2 months before you leave, you take a revolving credit line for $500-1000 at your bank, at whatever interest rate. Doesn’t mattter. 2 days before you leave, withdraw against credit line to the maximum limit, depositing entire sum into interest bearing savings account at same institition, or at least an account without monthly fees. Create automatic monthly payment from savings account to credit line for 1/12 the amount you borrowed. Check regularly when you have internet access from overseas. Use internet when bored to calculate how much you are going to lose in interest by doing this – cost of borrowing less interest earned into savings account. While on R&R, deposit just enough of your perdiem into the savings account to ensure that the whole credit line plus excess interest will get paid. Then go back to work and forget about it. When you come home, you will have a massively good credit score and many interest free credit card offers in your mailbox to start life over… Super cheap credit rating fixer, and they don’t care who your landlord was. As if you were going to give them that warlord’s address and risk getting you and your bank shut down for flirting with terrorists!

    • Mannix permalink
      July 10, 2012 11:40 pm

      Nice one, the “landlord nightmare”!

  6. January 2, 2012 9:18 pm

    i am a science student and had completed my +2.i have done medical prepn class too.i am from nepal so want to continue my study in which country and which university will be perfect for me to study MBBS.

    • iamnotstupid permalink
      January 3, 2012 8:51 pm

      can you use google in nepal? put your question in the search engine instead, you dim-witted.

      • BLauren permalink
        January 12, 2012 4:25 am

        why are you on this blog if you reply to someone with such rash disdain?

  7. January 7, 2012 2:03 am

    Genius. And uncomfortably close to home.

  8. Sandra permalink
    January 11, 2012 5:12 am

    And in the end, E..W..S will have yet another unpaid internship with bonus food coupons. ;)

    As nice as working for an NGO sounds, I stopped dreaming a couple of years ago and went to work for a company. They actually pay me – despite graduating in Sociology.

    And guess what: the guy from Nepal, who currently cannot google, will probably earn a five-figure salary sooner than E..W..S, who will continue living in mud huts, learn Korean, adopt a Brazilian street kid, and invent a new religion.

    • HungryUnpaidOverworked permalink
      January 11, 2012 12:26 pm

      WAIT! There are NGOs that reward unpaid dinterns with bonus food coupons? Why haven’t I been working at those….suddently my 12 internships seem meaningless.

      • HungryUnpaidOverworked permalink
        January 11, 2012 12:27 pm

        *unpaid interns…

  9. boomjitter permalink
    January 11, 2012 6:20 am

    this makes me feel better about being a thoroughly mediocre nothingmaster who has never left his state


  10. Louise the plumber permalink
    January 12, 2012 9:04 am

    To all of the people who this is most applicable:
    If you really want to help people, make your fortune in the capitalist world first and simply donate your fortune. That way, you can REALLY help those less fortunate than you 1000 fold compared to your puny effort of living in a mud hut, weaving baskets and living off your parents. Duh.

    • January 13, 2012 1:18 pm

      “To all of the people who this is most applicable:”

      To all of the people WHOM this is most applicableTO:

      • srsmn permalink
        January 13, 2012 7:59 pm

        “To all of the people WHOM this is most applicableTO:”

        Um….why is the grammar nazi ending a statement in a preposition?

        “To all of the people TO WHOM this is most applicable.”

        My goodness, you’re arrogant….

    • January 13, 2012 9:33 pm

      The “grammar nazi” ended the corrected statement with a preposition to emphasize that you had two grammatical errors in your original, and to show disdain for what I expected would be the gist of your retort. To quote Churchill: “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.”

      • srsmn permalink
        January 14, 2012 9:19 pm

        Ease off, wise-guy: it wasn’t my post that started this melee. I just found it ironic that you attacked the grammar of the initial post instead of its content by using, um…”questionable” grammar yourself.

        And don’t quote Churchill at me. It doesn’t make you look any less arrogant. ;)

      • January 15, 2012 12:10 pm


        Ease off, wise-guy: it wasn’t my post that started this melee. I just found it ironic that you attacked the grammar of the initial post instead of its content by using, um…”questionable” grammar yourself. And don’t quote Churchill at me. It doesn’t make you look any less arrogant. ;)

        Have you been missing your anger-management classes lately? This “melee” was started by you, poking your nose into a correction I left for someone else.

        My correction can hardly be termed an “attack”, and the “content” of a post includes its salutation. My remarks, unlike yours, were devoid of ad hominem slurs. But since you insist, I find it ironic that you spew forth a string of epithets when you yourself are full of shit.

      • January 15, 2012 2:26 pm

        @thebighenry and @srsmn – I’m afraid your little exchange here is not adding much value, so I’m considering it over. If you’d like to continue elsewhere, by all means, have at it.

    • Janel permalink
      April 13, 2012 3:04 pm

      On the mark and rarely spoken!!! Be the person the NGO’s come begging for funding from for crying outloud. Money is simply a tool to change someone else’s circumstances. Want to change the world? Live simply, give the rest away.

    • KristinL permalink
      February 18, 2013 2:36 pm

      Yeah, because throwing money at problems will certainly fix them.

  11. The 405 Club permalink
    January 12, 2012 2:30 pm

    Get on board at The 405 Club Unemployment Network… you may be here for a while with that one… :-)

    • zarf permalink
      January 13, 2012 1:46 am

      Boy did I miss the boat. Two years of community college and making $98k….but I do ride a motorbike :)

  12. Dan phillips permalink
    January 13, 2012 3:53 pm

    your all dumb and need to realize that using big words make fun of people only secures the fact you will all be virgins till your so lonely you pay for sex

    • Scotty permalink
      January 13, 2012 7:06 pm

      At least they have some concept of grammar.

    • January 13, 2012 8:29 pm

      you are = you’re

  13. Casey Kelso permalink
    January 16, 2012 7:56 am

    More than 30 years ago, when I was studying development, a cynical but accurate poem circulated that warned of our future… The Development Jetset

  14. try_me permalink
    September 4, 2012 6:17 am

    I’d like to become an aid worker. Every aid worker I’ve read or talked to is cynical and ‘oh so much better than everyone else’. Are people nice to each other in the field or are you all a bunch of sarcastic twats?

  15. Ali Mugalli permalink
    December 21, 2014 2:32 pm

    I would like to apply for the position to help people. I don’t care wher are I work. I look for the noble job that I can contrbut in the world.
    I work with UNAMID in Darfur in Sudan as Human Rights. I work in Yemen for ten years on development as write the report and plans for people we targt . I ready to work on the field


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