How to Write an Internship Cover Letter (Template)
The perfect internship cover letter contains insights and work accomplishments relevant to the job you’re applying for. But you might not have relevant experience to share. And since you may still be receiving your bachelor’s level education. Then 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 gets 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. And 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 or work accomplishments required to put into your cover letter. Then here are some ways to position yourself as a unique college student that should be hired for the intern position.
No experience, here's what to do
- 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 allude to relevant skills you have been exposed to. For example, being in a sport shows teamwork, the ability to take direction, take the 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. And if it’s a summer internship program. 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.
- Abide by default margins.
- Use 9-point to 10-point 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. This will turn 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.
Software Engineering Internship Cover Letter Sample
Below is a cover letter example for those packaging up an internship application.
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.
Finance Internship Cover Letter Sample
Below is a cover letter example for those going into finance who have no prior work experience.
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? And 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.
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 describes 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 the 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
Our favorite resources are included below.
Job interview resources
- Common Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Preparing for Job Interviews by the University of Kansas
- Mock Interview Handbook by CSUCI
- Interview Guidebook by Lebanon Valley College
Resume and cover letter resources
- Writing a Resume and Cover Letter by USC
- Resume Writing Tips by the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Resume and Cover Letter Guide by Harvard University
Job search resources
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