Placer High grad’s “best cover letter ever” a viral sensation

Humble, plainspoken letter to Wall Street firm makes a global impression
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Best job application letter ever?

For Placer High grad Matt Ross, a simple, plainspoken plea for a job to a Wall Street firm has turned him into an overnight media sensation.

Ross, who graduated from Placer High in 2009 and now attends San Diego State University, e-mailed his soon-to-go-viral cover letter Monday afternoon to Duff & Phelps in New York City.

By Wednesday, the letter was being described in England’s Mail Online as the “best ever” cover letter, NBC’s “Today Show” was tracking him down for a possible appearance and the New York Post was about to break his story in the Big Apple.

“I won’t waste your time inflating my credentials, throwing around exaggerated job titles, or feeding you a line of crap about how my past experiences and skill set align perfectly for an investment banking internship,” Ross wrote. “The truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities, but I do have a near perfect GPA and will work hard for you.”

Ross said he would have no qualms “fetching coffee, shining shoes or picking up laundry.”

“And I will work for next to nothing,” Ross said. “In all honesty, I just want to be around professionals in the industry and gain as much knowledge as I can.”

The heartfelt e-mail from a San Diego student quickly touched a nerve with Wall Street as Ross’s plea spread over the Internet to other financial firms. By Wednesday, the London Daily Mail reported that Ross was possibly “the most modest job applicant in America” and unnamed Wall Street “bosses” were hailing the “best ever” cover letter as an “instant classic.”

Digging deeper, with the help of Auburn Journal files, the Daily Mail also reported what Ross wasn’t telling his prospective bosses – that he was a star athlete in three sports at Placer High as well as a gifted student.

During his time at Placer High, Ross quarterbacked the Hillmen football team, pitched on the baseball team, and also played basketball.

While Matt Ross couldn’t be reached for this story, his mother Lynell Ross told the Mail Online that the letter sounds like the type of application her son would write.

“Matt is a great kid, very smart and hard working, never afraid to put everything into everything he does,” Lynell Ross said.

News of the 22-year-old’s viral fame had also spread to Placer High by Wednesday.

Journalism teacher Dan Wilson said that Ross was well-known for his academic and sports achievement but also for the way he carried himself through four years at the school.

“He was not only a 4.0 GPA student and a three sport athlete,” Wilson said. “He was also unbelievably nice – a kid that was real.”

Brook Oliver, lead counselor with Sierra College’s career and transfer connections, said that while the Ross letter breaks some rules – including using the word ‘crap’ – it was one that stood out without being too quirky.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Oliver said. “He posed a very clear request and his reasons for wanting it (an internship).”

Company employees who do the hiring field hundreds of resumes and are looking for people who are “wrapping their message in a bow,” she said.

“Matthew’s came across as very human and very real and you can’t train that,” Oliver said. “This was clearly who he was and it’s refreshing.”

Oliver also runs the internship program at the Rocklin college. Ross played his cards right in offering to work for “next to nothing,” she said.

“Offering yourself as an intern and knowing you can’t demand a salary is the No. 1 way to get into the field,” Oliver said. “Nationally, employers are looking for people who have had internships.”