Write a cover letter: sample and thoughts

For many, the end of an academic year marks the transition from students to employees. Whether you are seeking a job in a company or a PhD position in a university, mastery in writing a cover letter is critical. Here, I will share a sample from my own writing, and hope that it helps 😉

“A model cover letter” would be an overstatement for the sample I am going to present, because I know that anything I wrote/write is far from perfect! Nonetheless, with the help of cover letter I was shortlisted in 2 out of 3 PhD applications. It still works!

Writing a cover letter is the art of matching and elaborating. You match your skills and qualifications with those demanded by the employer, and elaborate curtly and convincingly why you are the best. The first things I did, was to sift out the requirements, either written explicitly or implicitly in the advertisement.

By doing so, the advertisement was simplified into four key items. They can be regarded as the four pillars, on which the content of your letter should be built.

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Course Review: Proteomics

Proteomics BB2510 is always the subject I am compelled to talk about. There is a reason: three months after the course ended, I started a master thesis project highly relevant to proteomics; another six months I got a PhD offer from a proteomics project! In another word, Proteomics BB2510 shapes my career path and I would love to share with you how enchanting it is!

“-omic” is not merely a suffix to protein such that it rhyme with “genomics” and “transcriptomics”. Indeed, it refers to the large-scale analysis  of proteins in biological samples. We know that protein is the last chain of the so-called “Central dogma of molecular biology”, the end product of DNA, which is your exclusive genetic material.

What does that imply?

Just imagine that our body is a university that is called KTH. Then, DNA would be our vice chancellor, Sigbritt Karlsson, who has the highest command; “proteins” would be best to play the teaching professors, as each of them have different tasks and whether a course is good highly depends on them!

In school, we evaluate the teachers’ performance to decide the quality of the courses; similarly, scientists are especially interested in proteins as they have everything to do with disease and health!

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Finally, our graduation

The 31th of May, 2018 is the day that I will never forget. After all these things, which include one-and-half year attending the identical lectures together, six months delving in complicated codes, and above all, tons of laughter, the 2016 class of MTLS was graduating on a summerly May-day at Karolinska Institutet (KI).

Aula Medica is the hall mark of KI

Unlike other programmes at KTH, whose graduation ceremony is held yearly in the City Hall, where the Nobel Banquet takes place; at MTLS we attend the graduation ceremony together with other KI’s international master programmes at Aula Medica where the Nobel Lecture in Physiology or Medicine is held annually.

The ceremony lasted only two hours, including an one-hour rehearsal. It was a simple, yet ceremonious one. It started with the speech from our vice-president, Prof. Karin Dahlman-Wright, who confessed at once that she did not remember the graduation speech at her time ——- which effectively leavened the air with bright laughter.

There are all together eight global master programmes at KI. For each programme:

MTLS class 2016 on the stage

  1. Speech from programme director

  2. Students were invited on the red carpet on stage

  3. They shaken hands with vice-president, from whom they receive a small certificate

  4. Group photo

  5. Students returned back to their seats

There were two short breaks between the programmes in which all students, teachers and guests were entertained by Swedish music performed by Riltons Vänner.

At last, light refreshment, desert, and champagne are essential!

Small souvenirs for the big day!

An authentic unofficial group that half of the class were not looking at the camera

I have imagined hundreds of times how the two-year master programme would end. In the end, it turned out to be a jubilant afternoon with family, friends and celebration. Then I understand: the 120 ECTS were completed, but the skills that we acquired in the study, our friendship built after all of these tests will keep going on and last long.

If I’m admitted without scholarship, what are the alternatives to finance myself?

As the deadline of fee-paying (31th May) approaches, I received a lot of inquiries about student accommodation, public transportation…..and, finance! True, how to finance yourself is central to the decision-making, in particular for the majority who do not enter on an admission-scholarship basis. Today, I will discuss the alternatives that you can support yourself: non-admission scholarships and part-time jobs on campus!


1. KTH one-year scholarship

Perhaps all of you have applied (or at least heard of) the KTH admission scholarship, but do you also know that there is an one-year scholarship that you apply when you are first-year master student?

  • Type: one-year school fee waiver

  • Selection: based on academia excellence = your grades on KTH transcript

  • Time to apply: usually in April every year


So, check the above website in April and file your application in time! As far as I know, the scholarship is usually granted to those straight-A students. Therefore, my personal tips are:

1) Do your study  (of course!) and plan it early

2) Re-exam is a good chance, don’t waste it!

For MTLS students, KTH one-year scholarship probably won’t apply to you, as most courses in the first year are conducted in SU and Karolinska. Instead, try KTH Joint Programme Scholarship!

2. KTH Opportunities

KTH Opportunities is a fund from KTH alumni and friends that support current students (bachelor, master, phD) to explore something meaningful for themselves, KTH and the society.

  • Type: highest amount = SEK 50,000

  • Selection: project-based

  • Time to apply: usually from March to April every year


The closest example around me is a friend from Medical Engineering who was funded by KTH Opportunities for a volunteering internship in a hospital in Nepal. You may want to have a look at the type of funded projects:

3. Karolinska Institute Foundation Scholarship

A good news to MTLS students is that you are eligible to apply for scholarship in Karolinska and SU!

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Why, What, How: Four MTLS students sharing their thesis stories

How important is master project? We all know that

  • It worths one-fourth of academic credits

  • Students are free to choose where to carry out their thesis work

  • 30% students (in Sweden) found their employment directly through master thesis

  • Students acquire essential skills and connections with industry/academia, which eventually build up employability

So, how are our students doing? This weekend, I have the pleasure to chat with four of MTLS students from my class, who are doing their master thesis at different places and working on a diverse scheme of topics! They are:  Leonie (Karolinska Institute in Solna), Mounika (Gabather AB in Huddinge), Dimitri (KTH main campus) and Carolina (Harvard Medical School).


1. Leonie von Berlin, Germany

Group: Sten Linarsson (Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Karolinska Institute)

Project: Pipeline development for definition and mapping of cells in human brain with single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq)

The most important lesson I learned is the following: Science takes time. A  LOT OF TIME. If we all accept that four months are barely enough to produce important results and stay relaxed and stay relax, the master project can be a great time of learning and scientific communication. And for having fun!

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