How to Write a Professional Internship Cover Letter
Writing an internship cover letter is no small feat. Without any prior experience, writing a traditional cover letter becomes more challenging. In a traditional cover letter, a job applicant would highlight relevant experience and achievements that make them well-suited for the job.
In this case, a candidate who is looking to be placed in an internship might not have any prior experience.
How to write an internship cover letter
Here's how to write a cover letter for your internship job search.
Open the cover letter
A cover letter opening should be thoughtfully considered. Think about what makes you the best candidate for the position. State the position you're applying for and why you're a good fit. Make the first paragraph impactful.
Think of this as a type of sales pitch, showing why you're a qualified candidate for the position.
Something like the following:
I'm writing to apply for the position of software engineer intern at Apple Inc. I noticed the internship requires experience with a few programming languages. Primarily, Objective-C and Ruby on Rails. I'm a core contributor to the Ruby on Rails framework. And have completed five recent freelance projects using Objective-C.
Reference the job description
Read through the job description. A personalized cover letter or targeted cover letter is one that references the correct requirements listed in the job ad.
Referencing the job description should be inside the second paragraph of the cover letter. When the job ad includes keywords like market research or time management skills. These would be indicators to make references to these skills.
As an example, referencing time management skills could look like the following:
While volunteering at the local animal shelter, I learned how to coordinate with staff to complete administrative tasks on time while meeting all the requirements of the animals in the shelter. Time management became a skill I had to develop quickly.
Include relevant skills and coursework
Relevant skills can come from extracurricular activities or from projects completed outside of work. For example, when an employer is looking for a specific set of technical skills, this might be an opportunity to talk about personal projects.
To be clear, technical skills are going to be referenced in engineering internship roles more than any other type of particular position. Though, writing skills are something that could be referenced in many jobs.
Here's an example of mentioning required skills or coursework:
I noticed the internship is going to be hands-on with other engineers. Not only am I close to completing my computer science degree but I have had the opportunity to collaborate with other engineers on open-source software. This provided me the ability to see how iterative software development works. Which makes me ideal for this internship.
Call out past achievements
Any type of achievements might be relevant for the position you're applying for. Cover letters are best used when telling stories of someone's professional history. Rather than listing too many reasons for why they're a great fit for the role.
Use any type of prior experiences where numbers may have played a factor in your work.
Here's an example of referencing prior achievements:
While working at the local library during the summers, we were tasked with assisting in the marketing efforts of the library. I worked closely with the managers at the library to allocate the budget, launch digital marketing campaigns, and measure their impact through attribution. Each marketing campaign brought in an additional 100 visitors each week.
Explain being a fit for the position
Referencing the company mission statement. Or parts of the mission statement that resonate with you personally can be beneficial. This should be included in the final paragraph of the cover letter. Not to be confused with the closing paragraph, which ends the letter.
A great way to find information about the company is to visit the company website, call the front desk, or call the human resources department. Ask for their mission statement.
Here is an example of mentioning a companies mission statement:
I'm passionate about working with children and bringing financial health to the developing world. I'm a strong proponent of collaborative work environments and the need to drive innovation. This is what makes this an exciting opportunity for me. And why I feel uniquely suited for this opportunity.
Describe what you'd gain from the role
It's nice for hiring managers to know what you might gain from the opportunity. A cover letter for an internship can be ambitious in more ways than one. Mention what experience you could gain from the internship.
As an example, mentioning key research experience that might come from marketing internships. Or how the internship will expose you to parts of the company that will gain you necessary skills for a new job or your first job in the future.
It might be a set of skills or a particular skill set that you'd gain. Define them, then write them.
Here's what the might look like:
I'm very passionate about this role because it allows me to coordinate with sales, marketing, and product. The function makes sense to me. And It will allow me to gain new cross-functional skills in the industry that will advance my career in graphic design very quickly.
Close the cover letter
The last paragraph of the cover letter should contain a few calls to action. Primarily, grabbing the reader's attention by displaying a strong desire to interview for that specific internship opportunity. And reinforcing the skills required.
Here's an example of what that would look like:
I'm excited about this opportunity and the potential to learn skills in marketing that will advance my career. I'm available at your earliest convenience to discuss the opportunity. The enclosed resume contains all of my prior work and academic achievements.
Review and proofread before sending
By completing all of the steps above, a cover letter should get created that stands out from other applicants. It contains the right amount of information for a hiring manager to see you as a strong candidate. And tells a unique story.
The last step is to proofread the cover letter. Grammar errors can show a lack of verbal and written communication skills. And can show required attention to detail.
Ask a friend or family member to review the cover letter.
Internship cover letter tips
Tips for writing an impactful and efficient cover letter for any type of internship.
Reference motivation and reasons for joining the company
Motivation is a key factor that hiring managers are going to be looking for. It's important to grab the hiring manager's attention by showing strong comprehension for the companies goals and missions.
A hiring manager is going to be looking for enthusiasm and willingness to learn new things.
Here is how you might want to consider pitching your motivation for the internship opportunity:
Describe your interests
Do your personal interests align with the interests of the job? If so, highlight those. For example, if applying for a software engineering internship. Then describe weekend projects or examples of various software applications that you might have produced on your own.
Give examples of your interests
Using the above example, going beyond your projects and listing the outcomes of those projects would be ideal, too. For example, having to learn the software marketing or product marketing aspect of the software development lifecycle.
Listing these examples can show your ambition to learn and capabilities.
List why you're interested in the company
Research the company. What they value, stand for, and what their mission is. Reflecting on the companies mission in the reasoning for applying can create a great cover letter.
Showcase ambition or achievements
Having strong ambition in the field can be a strong differentiator. For an internship position, passion matters. A good cover letter showcases capabilities and the capacity to handle the required duties and responsibilities listed in the job description.
Think of any type of prior experience where you might have had to drive real experiences and be responsible for outcomes.
This could include any type of achievements. It's best to use volunteer work. Or even retail work experiences. For internship positions, providing insight into your capacity to perform on the job is better than listing relevant work experience.
Address the hiring manager by name
Cover letters should always address the hiring manager by name. It personalizes the cover letter. Avoid using terms like, "Dear Sir or Madam." Or "To Whom It May Concern." And lastly, "Dear Hiring Manager." These terms sound generic and can show hiring managers that you didn't bother to read the job posting or investigate who is hiring for the role.
Start the cover letter by using the hiring manager's name. For example, "Dear John."
Use the proper cover letter format
It's best to use a business letter format for your cover letter. This includes coordinating your margins, font sizes, font styles, and paragraph spacing.
Use the default paragraph spacing. And for both your cover letter and resume, make sure that the font styles are the same. Try Times New Roman, Arial, Courier, or Calibri. And set the text size to 10 or 12pts, depending on the length of your cover letter and resume.
Include professional references
References can be a great way to separate you from other candidates. Reference letters from professors or professional family friends are great to use. Find any professional who is willing to validate your personal qualities, characteristics, and abilities.
Example internship cover letter
Below is a cover letter for an internship and general cover letter sample.
Mr. Hanson —
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 viral science 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,
Engineering internship cover letter example
Below is a sample cover letter for an engineer. Whenever referencing cover letter samples, remember to use them as a guide. And not to replicate the format verbatim.
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 to write 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,
How to send your internship cover letter
Most job applications will be through a corporate job portal. Or some type of job portal. In that portal, the ability to upload a resume and cover letter is easy.
In cases where the job applicants are required to send a cover letter by email, follow the rules below.
Attach the cover letter
Attaching the cover letter as part of the email is the most common practice. You'll want to write a small note in the email, indicating why you're a strong candidate for the role. And then reference including your resume and cover letter.
Paste the cover letter into the body
Another option is to take the cover letter and paste the body of the letter into the email body. When doing this, it's important to include a small note above the cover letter and then create spacing between your note and the cover letter itself.
This would be a better solution for those who have shorter, very impactful cover letters.
Internship cover letter template
Enjoy this free template! Below is an internship cover letter template to use.
Your Contact Information
(Optional) Professional Website
(Optional) Employer Contact Information
Hiring Manager's Name
Hiring Manager's Email
Dear Mr./Mrs. First Last Name
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.
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.
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.
Typed Name or handwritten signature
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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