Writing an Internship Cover Letter (+ High Converting Example)

Writing a cover letter for an internship requires strategically aligning yourself as a young professional, who lacks experience, to the objectives of the business you’re applying to.

Doing this isn’t an easy task. It requires time, effort, research, and the right strategy outlined and utilized clearly.

This writing guide will cover how to strategically align yourself to the business and present yourself as a high caliber internship candidate.

Before You Begin Writing

Questions you should be asking yourself before you write your internship are:

  • How much do you know about the company?
  • How much do you know about the companies plans for the future?
  • How much do you know about the companies industry?
  • Where do you want to be in 5-years?
  • What parts of your past would others define as unique, exceptional, or a strong achievement?

Having these facts written down in advance of your cover letter writing process will help you to support strong arguments and supportive figures that present yourself professionally.

By using these insights you can show employers that you have a strong passion for the business as well as a strong personal alignment to where the business is heading.

But how do you use them?

Set them aside and begin reading each of the sections below.

Strategy for Writing Your Internship Cover Letter

Most internship positions will be written by young professionals who lack experience. The most common way to argue your experience level with why you should be hired as an intern is to speak to your education or coursework.

But don’t do that!

Speaking about your coursework is not going to impress your future employer. What you were able to accomplish during or before your university-level education is going to be more important. For example, were you able to start a small side business in college?

Did you have any part or role in starting a promising group or club at your university? Did you play a sport and showed leadership during your tenure as a young athlete?

What are facts about you that show promising ability to become a high-performing employee? Take the time to think through your past and use those scenarios and set them aside.

Once you have these unique factors about yourself, it’s time to align them to the goals of the business.

hen we think about alignment, it is about finding a value that you bring to the company that fits in with the company objectives. For example, if you started a business in college and the internship job ad described the ideal candidate as “entrepreneurial”, this would be alignment.

Your objective is to write a cover letter that speaks to what the employer, hiring manager, or internship manager is looking for.

Let’s take an example of how we are going to align ourselves to the objectives of a company.

Company A

The company is seeking young entrepreneurial interns who are passionate about emerging technology.

How would you align yourself?

Example: “In college, I was growing tired of the coursework and wanted a challenge. A friend and I decided that we wanted to start an affiliate shop for college students. It was all the latest gadgets and technology that would help students with their university-level coursework. We promoted it through the college campus Facebook pages and generated about $30,000 in revenue in the first year.”

This short story supports your abilities as a professional without any mention of prior work experience. And it is quite effective.

Alignment to the Business

Now that we have a good understanding of aligning your past achievements or professional abilities to the characteristics of what the hiring manager is seeking out of interns, we need to align you to the business.

Knowing where the business is going is vital. In order to find this out, you should read press releases, read the company “About” page, speak to current employees (if possible), and see where the business is heading.

Use this as information to speak to in your cover letter. And how this information is sparking your passion toward becoming an intern.

When you wrote down your 5-year plan or even small facts related to your 5-year plan, you can use this to make yourself a bullseye fit for the company.

Here’s an example of how to do that.

Amazon Internship

Amazon is seeking interns for their software engineering department.

How would you align yourself?

Example: “From an outsider's perspective, Amazon is one of the only companies in the world who believes software can truly solve anything. I sense mortgages and financial products are in the future for Amazon. My desire is to become a full-time Software Engineer. And I don’t see any better place to do that than Amazon. The culture of move fast, perform high, and serve our customers is what appeals to me the most. It is the only environment where I’ll be able to learn the highest caliber skill sets that will make my career.”

This short story speaks to your knowledge about the business and supports why you want to be there. For an internship position, this passion is important. It shows your hiring manager that you’ll be willing to learn, adapt, and be a team player.

Writing Tips for Your Cover Letter

Don’t forget some of these key elements to your letter:

  • Use the hiring mangers name if you have it.
  • Mention your understanding of the business direction.
  • Mention your understanding of the work environment.
  • Don’t forget to mention the role or department you’re applying to.
  • Use facts, figures, statistics, and achievements to present yourself in a professional light.
  • Include mentions of your references in the cover letter if you have them. But don’t forget to include a reference sheet if you do so.
  • Include your LinkedIn URL, personal website URL, or anything tangible that the hiring manager can see regarding your professional abilities.

Example Internship Cover Letter for 2020

Let’s put the whole cover letter together now. In this example, we’re going to be applying to an internship at Amazon.

Daniel Smith
[email protected]
danielsmith.com

March 3rd, 2020

Dear Hiring Manager—

I’m writing this letter in request to be considered for the internship position in the Software Engineering department.

In college, I was growing tired of the coursework and wanted a challenge. A friend and I decided that we wanted to start an affiliate shop for college students. It was all the latest gadgets and technology that would help students with their university-level coursework. We promoted it through the college campus Facebook pages and generated about $30,000 in revenue in the first year. And as a business who is seeking entrepreneurial candidates for your internship position, I would love to tell you more about this experience.

From an outsider's perspective, Amazon is one of the only companies in the world who believes software can truly solve anything. I sense mortgages and financial products are in the future for Amazon. My desire is to become a full-time Software Engineer. And I don’t see any better place to do that than Amazon. The culture of move fast, perform high, and serve our customers is what appeals to me the most. It is the only environment where I’ll be able to learn the highest caliber skill sets that will make my career.

I really look forward to speaking with you, telling you who I am, why I want to be at Amazon, what makes me unique, and how I know I can provide value to the business.

Thank you so much,
Daniel Smith

Common FAQ’s for Internship Cover Letters in 2020

Below are common questions when writing an internship cover letter.

How long should an internship cover letter be?

A cover letter for an internship position should never exceed one-page. More commonly, cover letters are around 300 - 600 words. For internship positions, you may need more time describing yourself, telling a story of your past, and supporting your reason for being a high-caliber candidate.

Should I include references in my internship cover letter?

Including references can be a strong way to support yourself professionally. If you want to include references, you can mention them in your cover letter but include the references contact information and relationship to you in a separate reference sheet.

How should I start an internship cover letter?

If you have the hiring managers' first or last name, start your cover letter by directly addressing them will be most impactful. If you don’t have their name, you should start your cover letter with either “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear [Department] Team”.

Internship Resources

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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