Cover Letter for an Internship (Writing Guide, Examples, Free Template) [2020]

The perfect cover letter contains insights and work accomplishments relevant to the job you’re applying for. But when writing a cover letter for an internship, you might not have relevant experience to share since you may still be receiving your bachelor’s level education. Grabbing the employer’s attention in your writing takes a more creative and unique approach.

An effective cover letter contains insights into a job applicant's professional experience and work or career accomplishments. The letter is tailored to the job description and the hiring manager hiring for the internship position. These accomplishments signify the skills (like communication skills, interpersonal skills, and other transferable skills) required to inform the prospective employer that the applicant has the requirements and qualifications to succeed in the role.

Speaking to these accomplishments is what turns a generic cover letter into a tailored one. And informs the recruiter or your potential employer to continue reading your resume.

Ways to Position Your Experience as an Intern

When you don’t have the work experience or job history to write work accomplishments into your cover letter, here are some ways to position yourself as a unique college student that should be hired for the intern position:

  • Use significant personal projects. Did you accomplish something significant on your own that can speak to the specific position you’re applying for? For example, having a blog while applying for a marketing position.
  • Extracurriculars. Showing your interest beyond simply attending classes can be significant. For example, when applying for an engineering internship, mentioning the engineering clubs you’re part of or the time you spend at local labs.
  • Extracurricular activities. Sometimes referring to the things you do outside of school can allude to a specific skill you carry or relevant skills you have been exposed to. For example, being in row or crew shows teamwork, ability to take direction, take initiative, compete, and have leadership qualities.
  • Relevant coursework. It can be helpful to pick coursework that matches what your employer is looking for. Don’t focus as much on your educational background as you do relevant projects. For example, growing an Instagram account (or any other social media presence) as a school experiment while attending college for Marketing & Communications.

These are methods you can use to think back about what you might want to bring up in your internship cover letter. Whether it’s a summer internship program or an externship opportunity, you want to tell your employer why you’re uniquely suited for the program in both your job application assets like your resume and your internship cover letter.

Tip: Try to find the name of the hiring manager who is hiring for the internship program. That way you can address them by name in your cover letter versus saying “Dear Hiring Manager” at the beginning of your letter.

Cover Letter Document Format

As a job seeker, here are your basic guidelines for your cover letter format:

  • Use standard business letter format.
  • 1.5” line spacing at the most.
  • Use double spaces between sections like your contact information and current date.
  • Use default margins.
  • Use 9pt to 10pt font size at the most, with professional typefaces like Garamond, Times New Roman, or Helvetica.
  • Keep your cover letter one page. Don’t target a specific word count.

Cover Letter Format

Here are the basic guidelines for each paragraph of your cover letter that turns a basic cover letter into a great cover letter for your employer.

First paragraph: Grab your employer’s attention by alluding to what you feel the job requires and how you fit in with the company culture. Do this by researching the company on LinkedIn, their company website, and more.

Second paragraph: Speak to your accomplishments and let that allude to your qualifications for the role. List each specific example as either bullet points or through short storytelling.

Third paragraph: Have a call to action and tell your future employer that you’d like to interview for the position or give them more information to read about through your professional website or previous personal projects.

General Internship Cover Letter Sample

Below is a cover letter example for those packaging up an internship application.

Dear Mr. Johnson —

Your recent software release that allows for better communication between devices is something that stood out to me. When I began looking more into your company culture, I noticed that you are always seeking to simplify complex challenges. And this is an environment I feel I strongly need to be around.

Since I’m looking to be part of the summer internship program for the marketing department. I felt it’s relevant to share with you my experience at school developing Instagram accounts for coursework. We used virality and neuroscience background to grow 10 Instagram accounts to over 100k followers in 90 days.

Please view my projects at @nueronetwork to see them in full detail. And please read my resume to find out more relevant work about me that might show you what I can bring to the internship program.

I’m available to speak by phone or in person at your convenience.

Thank you so much,
Eric Anderson

Software Engineering Internship Cover Letter Sample

Below is a cover letter example for those packaging up an internship application.

Dear Mr. Johnson —

I'm writing to apply for an open internship opportunity. First, I'd like to say that my GPA in school was a 3.8 average. And that I was able to graduate with honors. I've included a number of recommendation letters that my professors have authored to speak to my passions for this industry.

While at school, I authored a number of freelance Ruby on Rails gems that have gained traction through GitHub. This was my first opportunity in writing software that others could use. Since then, I've been very proactive in the open-source software community. Writing and publishing open-source code that addresses gaps in the market.

I'm keen on learning new ways to author software and address market gaps. I've decided XYZ Company is the best opportunity for me since it prides itself on addressing current market conditions and how to look at those conditions as opportunities.

Thank you so much,
Eric Anderson

IT (Information Technology) Internship Cover Letter Sample

Below is a cover letter example for those going into information technology, who have no prior work experience.

Dear Mr. Johnson —

I'm writing to apply for an open internship opportunity. First, I'd like to say that my GPA in school was a 3.8 average. And that I was able to graduate with honors. I've included a number of recommendation letters that my professors have authored to speak to my passions for this industry.

I decided to go into IT because I've always been passionate about computers and networking. Since I was a young boy, I found an interest in understanding how the internet worked. And I found myself working with computers at all hours of the day. For me, this is more than a career, it's a passion.

While I don't have a lot of experience in IT, this internship should provide me with the opportunity to start my career. In return, I know I can be an intern who is adaptable, willing to learn, and can take direction. These are key skills that I know will pay dividends for the business.

I look forward to speaking with you and displaying how I can be a valuable addition to the business.

Thank you so much,
Eric Anderson

Finance Internship Cover Letter Sample

Below is a cover letter example for those going into finance, who have no prior work experience.

Dear Mr. Johnson —

I'm writing to apply for an open internship opportunity. First, I'd like to say that my GPA in school was a 3.8 average. And that I was able to graduate with honors. I've included a number of recommendation letters that my professors have authored to speak to my passions for this industry.

As a boy, I was always interested in finance and the markets. I found myself investing in my allowance money. Whether it was buying energy stocks or reading about stocks through magazines and books. It was always a passion of mine. Reading through the numbers, understanding how businesses operate, what their competitive advantage was, and trying to forecast or predict what growth they might expect in the coming years.

After completing my education, I'm looking to join a business where I can be exposed to markets once more. At XYZ Finance Corp, I see a number of financial products that I'm very excited about. And I would love to be exposed to them and start my career there. I am an adaptable professional, with a strong passion for numbers, and am willing to perform any job that might assist the teams I'm partnered with.

Thank you so much,
Eric Anderson

Internship Cover Letter Writing Tips

Tips for job seekers writing cover letters.

Use volunteer work or other projects

Merits come in many forms. Community service, volunteer work, and personal projects. Even if we were applying for a position as a teacher, we would use community service and community involvement as a way of displaying key skills and passion for the position. When applying to an internship position, think of any key qualities that display being a strong candidate. Working at an animal shelter, being a seasoned volunteer, organizing donation drives, being a dog walker. These would all be acceptable for someone who is going into the veterinary field, for example.

Make it about the company and employer

Since the cover letter won't contain much information on previous work experiences, make the cover letter about the employer. What stands out about the employer? What do they believe in? What are their values? Mentioning some of these company characteristics can make a good cover letter. It informs the hiring manager that the intern has done their "due diligence" on the business and isn't "just seeking" an internship to move up the career ladder. A hiring manager wants to know that the intern has a true passion for the business and is going to apply themselves to the company when hired.

Don't apologize

Mentioning that there isn't previous work experience is one thing. It's okay to manage expectations. But the job seeker shouldn't apologize for their lack of experience. For example, "I'm sorry that I don't have any experience in the field." This doesn't display confidence in the job seeker.

It's okay to take the perspective of the hiring manager and mention key gaps in the resume or cover letter. But the more important aspect of doing that is filling those gaps with correctly authored language in the cover letter. In essence, this is the purpose of the cover letter—to be able to speak directly to the hiring manager and display key skills, communication, and competencies that present themselves as an ideal candidate.

Talk about skills

It's important to reference skills. But instead of stating skills, display situations at school or from a previous job (regardless of having a relevant job title) that displays the key skills the hiring manager might be looking for. Most internship applicants have previous work experience, usually during their high school years. Using this previous work experience to decipher some learned skills can be important.

For example, employment during their high school years often have some exposure to customer service. Whether their role was working as a barista or store sales associate—they interacted with customers. These key skills can be great to display. But, as a cover letter author, use storytelling to display these skills. For example, share a story that sticks out related to dealing with a difficult customer. Or what it was like to provide a customer with optimal customer experience, and to hear the customer be pleased.

Tell impactful stories through the cover letter rather than listing a number of skills that the hiring manager is looking for through the job description or job advertisement.

Internship Cover Letter Format Template

Contact Information
Name
Phone Number
Email Address
LinkedIn Profile
(Optional) Professional Website

Salutation
Dear Mr./Mrs. First Last Name

Opening Paragraph
The first paragraph should greet the reader and suggest an understanding of the job requirements. Speak about the company and what the company values. This paragraph should be no more than 150 words.

Second Paragraph
The body paragraph should contain relative work examples, career accomplishments, volunteer work, community service work, school merits, and other accolades that entice the hiring manager to read the resume or read the remainder of the cover letter.

Closing Paragraph
Thank the reader for their time. Suggest a desire to interview with the company as soon as possible. And be willing to do what's necessary in order to receive the internship opportunity.

Letter Closing
Sincerely/Yours truly

Signature
Typed Name or handwritten signature

internship cover letter example

free cover letter template

Free Cover Letter Template

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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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