A personal kind of cover letter:

(composed in August 2010)

To the Front End Software Engineering Team at Google,

I was recently contacted by a recruiter from Google and was intrigued to learn of your interest in me. Google is a company I respect deeply for helping bring forth the information age, while doing so with a human touch, and for constantly pushing practical, well designed technology (some of my favorites are Maps/Latitude, Chrome, and Docs). As someone entrenched in both technological and humanistic disciplines, I strive to apply technology to better people’s lives. Google understands this idea very well which makes me all the more excited to be considered for a position in software engineering, front end (and particularly at this point in my life, as the story below illustrates). I hope to partake in Google’s mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” I'm confident that my abilities, enthusiasm, and dedication can make a major contribution to the future success of Google and I would love the chance to demonstrate this.

My time in school involved study in computer science and the natural sciences. Towards the end of my undergraduate career, I became involved with research that applied human evolution to the social sciences - pulling together psychology, economics, history, and political science (it’s best described as human science or human uniqueness and the professors I worked with are incredible). I enjoyed the challenge of working in different disciplines and appreciated everything I learned. After graduating, my plans for medical school fell through so I continued working with the human sciences. My research project continued, I became a graduate teaching assistant for the professors’ course, and I also helped the professors in their company, The Human Knowledge Enterprise, by developing the website for their book on human uniqueness.

These two years since graduating have also been a time of personal growth and discovering who I am. I became a black belt and instructor of one martial art, and was inducted into the family of another martial art. I became more involved with the NYC inline skating community, regularly helping out on their events. I continued to learn at every moment. I read many, many books including The Design of Everyday Things and Here Comes Everybody. Likewise, I enjoyed watching video lectures - especially TED Talks. Through all this, I not only began to better understand the world, but also my self. For a long time, I considered myself a scientist; it’s now dawned on me that I’m also very much an engineer. In hindsight, it seems obvious - I’ve always enjoyed understanding the inner workings of things and in building things (whether it was making maps using UnrealEd or practical furniture with K’nex). Conversely, the hands-on work in my CS courses and personal coding projects has always been fulfilling.

In light of this, I’ve decided to pursue work in software engineering. Although my diversity in specialties has left me spread out a bit thin, I’ve been working hard to strengthen my computer science knowledge. For example, I recently picked up Objective-C in learning iOS. Likewise, I’ve been sharpening my CS fundamentals like by studying algorithms through video lectures. So here I stand with a potential opportunity to work at Google. I’m ready to learn, a lot - to be molded into a capable engineer that helps to build responsive, user-friendly products. I’m ready to contribute - offering the team creativity and passion while bringing in my distinctive medley of specialties.

I am eager to learn more about the work environment and people at Google and would be thrilled if you would afford me the opportunity to tell you more about my abilities and passions. In addition to my resumé and transcript, you can dive deeper into my interests and work by visiting my showcase and portfolio website at http://sonicans.net/ and my blog at http://blog.sonicans.net/.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. Please feel free to contact me via phone (Google Voice, of course) or Gmail. I hope this becomes a fruitful endeavor for us both.

Yours truly,


Arnav Shah