I'm an undergraduate student currently studying Computer Science, and my University has a paid job opportunity for undergrads to tutor a couple of hours every week in a class they've excelled at. My mark for the class was likely among the highest, and I meet all other requirements.

While I have a decent chance of getting the position, I feel tempted to include at the end of my cover-letter some subtle indication that should another candidate be chosen, I'd be interested in volunteering and lending my services in some other way. I haven't had much experience in job applications before (previous jobs include paid work for my high-school, and a local cafe, both relatively informal). Is what I'm suggesting utterly inappropriate regardless of how I phrase it, or could it be seen as an indication that my motive isn't solely monetary based, and I have a genuine enthusiasm for the class's content?

For context, it's a C++ Programming class. And for the past couple of months I've lived and breathed that language. I'd truly relish any opportunity to engage with it in a teaching capacity. Is it bad to seem "too desperate", no matter how it's couched?


3 Answers 3


It's a bad idea in my opinion.

Imagine walking into a shop where every price sticker said something like "$99 or FREE", how much money do you think they would make?

If they don't take you on for the paid position and volunteering is something you'd still be interested in then you could ask the question of whether there were any volunteer positions available. Doing it in advance is just madness in my opinion.

Also it potentially sends the wrong message about your skills - if you don't value them above "free" why should anyone else?

  • 1
    +1 Also, it makes you look desperate, which pretty much guarantees they won't hire you in EITHER capacity. May 30, 2017 at 15:24

Leave it off the cover letter, it doesn't read as very professional and, perhaps, a bit desperate. However, should you be rejected, you might like to send another letter saying something along the lines of

Thank you for considering me for X position. It was a pleasure to meet you and your team. I'm still very keen on your company and am aware my experience in this field is limited, so should an opportunity for voluntary work come up in the future, please consider me for this.


As the others that have answered before me, I would say no, do not include that information in your cover letter. If you can get a paid position, it would be much better than unpaid volunteer work.

If you are not selected, you still have a couple of options to meet your goals:

  1. As MikePearce mentioned, you could send a second letter to the job poster saying that while you have not been selected, you would be interested in any volunteer opportunities if they become available. This would give them an option to bring you on in some way if it is possible. Maybe they have a limit to the number of students they can employ (regardless of volunteer or not).

  2. Another option would be to contact the professors that teach C++ in your department. Depending on your relations with them, they may be able to find you space/time to meet with other students. I can't imagine a professor that would turn away good help when their office hours are likely packed with student questions.

  3. Lastly, possibly a more extreme option, is to start your own tutoring service. Who is stopping you from providing peer tutoring to other classmates. Grab a separate gmail account, create a simple website (free), and print out some flyers to post around campus. If it takes off, then one day maybe you can put down "Started a peer tutoring service with 80 customers". Check with your school/department to make sure there isn't any rules against this. Some classes restrict working on projects with other students.

In my opinion, option 3 is sounding nice.

Edit: Apologies if answer went off-topic, since your original question was about cover letters.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .