Introduction

Cover letters are like book covers, and we all know it’s the cover that first catches the reader’s eye. Publishers, of course, know that, too—which is why they take care to create amazing covers that pop and stop shoppers in their tracks. When you want to move merchandise, you need to be able to freeze the target and draw the eyeballs like moths to a light bulb on a warm summer night.

Point being—if you’re looking for that sweet internship gig, take some time to consider how to present yourself in a cover letter. It’s the first thing the company reviewer will see.

Importance of a Cover Letter

A cover letter is an important part of your internship application for three very good reasons:

  1. First Impression: It is your first opportunity to make a positive impression on potential employers.
  2. Showcase Personality: A cover letter allows you to showcase your personality and enthusiasm, which are not easily conveyed through a resume.
  3. Differentiation: It differentiates you from other candidates by providing a personalized narrative that highlights your unique qualifications and fit for the position.

Purpose of the Article

If you’re wondering, “How do I write a cover letter for an internship?” this article is for you. What follows is a comprehensive guide not only to writing an effective cover letter that will increase your odds of getting that coveted internship, but also to communicating more effectively, so that you can open up doors for yourself throughout your professional career!

Basics of a Cover Letter

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a one-page document that accompanies your resume. It’s your first opportunity to tell why you are a good fit for the role.

What makes it different from a resume is that a resume lists your qualifications and experiences in a structured format, while a cover letter highlights some (and we mean SOME) of that same information in a narrative. The cover letter’s purpose is to introduce yourself and connect your qualifications to the job for which you are applying.

Why a Cover Letter is Crucial for Internships

Internships are typically for people with limited work experience. A cover letter helps to fill in the gaps by focusing HR’s attention on your most relevant skills and passions.

It allows you to show soft skills such as communication and attention to detail, which are valued highly by employers.

A cover letter also lets you respond to specific job requirements mentioned in the internship posting by explaining how your background, skills, education, and passion make you a perfect candidate for the role.

Pre-Writing Preparations for a Cover Letter

Research the Company and Internship

Researching the company is a good pre-writing exercise. It helps you know your audience—and the better you know the audience the more likely you are to be able to relate to it. The best speakers are those who tailor their pitch to their listeners. If you know nothing about the company where you’re trying to intern, guess what? They’re not likely to be too interested in you.

Do some research, learn about the company and what it does; learn about the vision, mission, values and culture. Find something you love about it, something that inspires you. Build on that by bringing it into your cover letter.

With some basic knowledge of the company’s values and culture, you’ll be better prepared to show that you have the skills and qualifications the company is looking for in an intern.

Self-Assessment

Assess your own skills and experiences to determine how they match the internship requirements. Be honest with yourself. Locate the specific skill sets and experiences that would go well with the job requirements and prepare to highlight them in your cover letter. Make sure you can explain in just a few words why those specific skills—whether hard or soft—make you the preferred candidate.

Gathering Necessary Information

Find the name and title of the person who will be reviewing your application if you can. Doing this shows that you have the initiative and the drive to go the extra mile. Nothing impresses a pro more than an applicant who acts like a pro, too.

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Structuring Your Cover Letter

Header and Contact Information

  1. Your Contact Details: Include your full name, address, phone number, and email address.
  2. Date: Add the date you are writing the letter.
  3. Employer’s Contact Details: Include the name, title, company, and address of the employer.

Salutation

Use the name of the person who will be reading your application. If this information is not available, use a general greeting such as “Dear Hiring Manager.”

What to Do If You Don’t Know the Recipient’s Name: If you cannot find the name, it is all right to use “Dear Hiring Committee” or “Dear [Company Name] Team.”

Writing the Cover Letter Introduction

Catching the Reader’s Attention

Start with a sentence that captures the reader’s attention. For example, you might mention a recent accomplishment of the company or express your enthusiasm for the industry.

Example 1: Google

“I was thrilled to learn about Google’s recent breakthrough in quantum computing, and I would be equally as excited to bring my passion for cutting-edge research to your team.”

Example 2: Amazon

“Amazon’s focus on customer-centric innovation, such as the launch of the Amazon Fresh stores and its new pharmaceutical division, motivates me to join your team and help drive this business forward.”

Next, clearly state the internship position you are applying for and how you learned about it.

Briefly Introducing Yourself

Follow up these opening remarks with some comments about yourself. Provide a brief overview of your background—but make sure what you convey is relevant to the internship.

Show your interest (and the reason for it) and enthusiasm to contribute to the company’s vision and mission.

Crafting the Body Paragraphs of Your Cover Letter

Highlighting Relevant Skills and Experiences

In the body of your letter, you will want to show how your skills link up with the requirements of the internship.

Example 1: Software Engineering Internship at Microsoft

Microsoft’s software engineering internship seeks candidates with proficiency in coding languages and experience in collaborative projects. As a computer science student at Columbia University, I have developed strong programming skills in Java, Python, and C++. I led a team project where we created a mobile app that received positive feedback for its user-friendly interface. My coding background, collaborative experience and technical skills make me well-suited for this role.

Example 2: Human Resources Internship at Amazon

Amazon’s HR internship requires excellent communication skills and experience in employee engagement. As an HR major at Xavier University, I learned about organizing and leading employee orientation sessions and improving new hire integration. I also conducted surveys as part of a research project to evaluate employee satisfaction. My experience in employee engagement and communication lines up well with the responsibilities of this internship.

Showcasing Achievements and Soft Skills

When showing off your achievements and soft skills, you’ll want to provide specific examples of your strengths. For example:

Academic Achievements

“During my time at University, I maintained a 3.9 GPA while majoring in Business Administration. I was recognized on the Dean’s List for six consecutive semesters and received the Academic Excellence Award for my outstanding performance in finance courses.”

Extracurricular Activities

“As the President of the University Marketing Club, I led a team of 10 members in organizing promotional events and campaigns. We increased club membership by 50% and collaborated with local businesses on their marketing. I enjoyed honing my leadership, project management, and teamwork skills, and would look forward to further developing them with the marketing internship at your company.”

Volunteer Work and Other Experiences

“I volunteered at the local animal shelter, managing fundraising and social media campaigns. I helped increase donations by 30% over the course of a year. I was also a mentor for underprivileged high school students, helping them with the college application process. I developed many communication and organizational skills, which I am eager to bring to your organization.”

Demonstrating Knowledge of the Company

When demonstrating your knowledge of the company, link your skills and experiences to the company’s needs and show how you can contribute to their success.

Linking Your Skills to the Company’s Needs

“I am particularly impressed with Amazon’s commitment to innovation and sustainability, as demonstrated by your recent initiative to reduce carbon emissions by 40%. My background in environmental science and experience in conducting research on renewable energy sources links well with your goals.”

Showing How You Can Contribute to the Company

“At Boss Corporation, your focus on leveraging big data to improve customer experiences recalls to my mind my internship at Gibi Analytics, where I worked on a project that used data mining techniques to identify customer behavior patterns. I am excited about the opportunity to apply my data analysis skills to contribute to Boss Corporation’s innovative solutions.”

Writing the Closing Paragraph

In closing, it is essential to summarize your key points, reiterate your interest in the internship, and provide a clear call to action.

Summarizing Key Points

Recap your skills and convey your enthusiasm for the role. For example: “My background in customer service and my experience in marketing make me an excellent candidate for this internship. I am eager to bring my passion for sales to Elemental and contribute to your success.”

Call to Action

Politely request an interview and provide your contact information for follow-up: “I look forward to the opportunity to discuss my application further in an interview. Please feel free to contact me at [your phone number] or [your email address] to schedule a convenient time.”

Professional Sign-Off

End with an appropriate closing phrase and, if applicable, your signature: “Sincerely,”
[Your Full Name]
[Your Typed Name] (for printed letters, add your handwritten signature above your typed name)

Post-Writing Tips

Proofreading and Editing

  1. Check for Grammatical Errors: Proofread your cover letter for grammar and punctuation. Mistakes can create a negative impression and suggest a lack of attention to detail. Use spell checkers, and read your letter aloud to catch errors that automated tools might miss.
  2. Focus on Clarity and Conciseness: Make sure your cover letter is clear and to the point. Don’t use long, convoluted sentences. Don’t use overly technical or sophisticated jargon. Each sentence should add value and move the letter forward. Aim for a balance between sufficient detail and brevity.

Seeking Feedback

  1. Get a Friend to Read It: Have a friend or mentor give honest criticism so that you can refine your cover letter.
  2. Use Online Tools for Additional Checks: You can use our online writing tools to check your letter’s grammar, syntax, readability, and tone. Our tools can help you improve sentence structure, clarity, flow, and tone.

Common Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

 1. Generic Cover Letters

2. Not Tailoring Each Letter to the Specific Internship

Avoid sending generic cover letters. Customize each letter for the specific internship. Your skills and the company’s needs should match. Show an understanding of the company and the role. Make your letter genuine.

3. Copy-Pasting

Do not copy-paste text from other cover letters or online templates. This will always come across as impersonal, insincere, and unprofessional. Instead, personalize each cover letter with specific details about yourself, the internship and company.

4. Overly Formal or Informal Language

5. Not Striking the Right Tone

Find the right tone. Overly formal language can sound stuffy. But steer clear of casual language as it can seem unprofessional. Aim for a tone that is professional yet personable.

6. Not Being Professional or Approachable

Use respectful language but show your personality. This helps create a connection with the reader and gives an impression confidence.

7. Ignoring Instructions

8. Not Following Application Guidelines

Make sure you read and follow all instructions in the internship posting. Pay attention to word limits, formatting guidelines, and submission procedures.

9. Not Including All Requested Information

Also make sure you include all information requested by the employer, especially any extra documents or answers to questions.

Cover Letter Examples and Templates

Sample Cover Letter for an Internship

Example with Commentary

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State, ZIP Code]
[Your Phone Number and Email Address]
[Today’s Date]

[Recipient’s Name]
[Recipient’s Title]
[Company’s Name]
[Company’s Address]
[City, State, ZIP Code]

Dear Access Marketing Team,

I am writing to express my interest in the Marketing Internship at Access, as advertised on LinkdIn. I am excited about this opportunity due to my prior relationship with Access as a customer for many years. My background in business management and marketing and my experience in your industry as a customer make me an excellent candidate for this position.

In my role as manager’s assistant at Open Door, I helped bring our ad campaign to completion. I learned about canvassing, surveying, and getting a feel for what customers wanted. Our campaign netted the company six new contracts and a dozen new subscriptions.

I am particularly impressed by Access’s commitment to excellence in customer service. I myself have benefited from it many times in the past. I would very much love to bring my passion for marketing and customer service and my skills in business management to Access, where I am confident I can contribute to the company’s goal of being number one in sales.

I look forward to the opportunity to discuss my internship application further. Please feel free to contact me by phone or email to schedule an interview. Thank you for considering my application.

Sincerely,

[Your Full Name]

Let’s Break Down the Strengths of the Example:

  • Personalization: The letter is written to the specific company and internship.
  • Relevant Experience: Highlights specific personal experiences and skills relevant to the internship.
  • Company Knowledge: Shows understanding of the company’s mission and goals.
  • Enthusiasm: Expresses genuine interest and enthusiasm for the role.
  • Clear Call to Action: Politely requests an interview and provides contact information.

Customizable Templates

The example above also serves as a good template that can be customized to meet your needs.

  1. For Various Industries:
    • Technology: Focus on technical skills, projects, and software proficiency.
    • Finance: Highlight analytical skills, financial modeling experience, and coursework.
    • Marketing: Emphasize creativity, campaign management, and market research skills.
    • Healthcare: Discuss clinical experiences, relevant coursework, or patient care skills.
    • Education: Focus on teaching experience, curriculum development, or classroom management.
  2. Tips for Personalization:
    • Research the Company: Adjust each template to reflect the company’s culture and recent accomplishments.
    • Highlight Relevant Skills: Match your skills and experiences to the specific requirements of the internship.
    • Use Specific Examples: Provide concrete examples of your achievements and how they relate to the role.
    • Be Genuine: Let your personality and passion for the industry come through in your writing.
    • Keep it Concise: Let your writing be clear, concise, and free of unnecessary details.