Like a standard job application, applying for an internship may also require a cover letter. A cover letter allows you to explain in more depth why you are the best candidate for an internship. You can use your cover letter to showcase your skills, experience and suitability. Learning how to write a cover letter when pursuing an internship and the necessary components to a cover letter can help increase your chances of getting a job. In this article, we discuss how to write a cover letter for an internship and provide useful examples.
How to write a cover letter for an internship
A successful cover letter suits the internship description. It includes your relevant skills, knowledge and experience. You can write a cover letter that's concise to catch the attention of the reader. Here are some key points of information to include:
1. State the role you are applying for
You can begin your cover letter by stating the exact role you are applying for. This demonstrates that you have read the internship description and consider yourself a good candidate. It also shows the reader that you have not simply copy and pasted the same cover letter from another application. It's a way of demonstrating that you're writing the letter specifically for their internship on offer. Lastly, it provides context for the rest of your letter to flow from.
Related reading: 7 Powerful Ways To Start a Cover Letter (With Examples)
2. Use keywords from the role description
Employers read hundreds of applications; this means they will often scan your cover letter before actually reading it. If you include keywords from the description, it will catch their eye. It demonstrates that have you read the ad and believe you are suitable for the role. When reading the description, highlight keywords that the employer has used. For example, the description might state “team player” as one desired quality. Try to think of real examples when you have worked well in a team environment.
3. Include academic accomplishments
This point is especially important if you have little to no work experience. Include your degrees or completed courses that are relevant to the internship. For example, if you are applying for a fashion internship you can state any textile subjects or courses you have undertaken. Remember to include any awards or accomplishments in that field.
4. List your relevant skills
The body of your cover letter is where you can list your skills and experience. These can emphasise why you are well suited to the position. If you do not have industry experience you can list skills you gained from other roles. These include jobs, volunteer roles, classes, projects and co-curricular activities. For example, if you are applying for an internship at a local newspaper, you may discuss your editing work for your university magazine. You might also say that working as a receptionist taught you about time management and organisation. You can relate any experience you have that is relevant to the role you are applying for.
5. Explain why you think you would suit the role
Read the internship description carefully to figure out exactly what the employer is looking for. Choose a few qualities they have listed that you believe you have. List these qualities and what makes you believe you have them. Then explain why you think you would suit the role. You can relate your experience to your suitability too. Try to keep it concise.
6. Explain what you think you would gain from the internship
This is a nice finishing touch; it shows you are keen to learn. Most internships are set up to help students gain knowledge and skills before entering the workforce. By highlighting what you hope to learn and achieve, the employer knows you are a keen candidate.
7. Edit your cover letter
Before sending your cover letter you can edit it thoroughly. Check for grammar and spelling errors and make sure it flows well. Asking a friend or family member to review it for you can also be very helpful. A fresh pair of eyes may notice something you could have missed.
How to format your cover letter
You can use appropriate business letter formatting when writing your cover letter. This means putting your contact information and date at the top, with a salutation and full name at the end. Below is a template for a cover letter:
[Opening paragraph, including information on the position you are applying for and why.]
[Middle paragraph/s, describing relevant skills, knowledge, experience and academic accomplishments.]
[Closing paragraph explaining why you are a suitable internship candidate and what you will gain from the role.]
[Complimentary sentence thanking the hiring manager or recruiter for their consideration.]
Example internship cover letter
Now that we've covered the basic outline for how to write a cover letter for an internship, below we provide a sample one:
Dear Mrs Smith,
I am writing to apply for the design internship program at ABC Company. Given the skills and experience outlined in my attached resume, I believe I will be a worthy asset to your team.
During my time at XYZ University, I've completed a great deal of work on cutting-edge design trends. This includes mobile application design, where I designed software for a variety of mobile devices and operating systems.
In addition, I spent the past summer volunteering at a local women's shelter. This shelter provides accommodation, clothing and food to women and children in need. I helped the staff update their website to make it more user friendly. I found this to be an incredibly rewarding experience.
Finally, my three years working in retail has taught me the importance of customer service and consumer experience. It taught me the importance of branding and marketing in a digital world. It also helped me develop my skills in communication, organisation and teamwork.
I believe I would make an excellent addition to your organisation. This internship would help me to develop real-world experience in the digital industry. Whilst further refining my application design skills.
Thank you for your consideration and time. I will call your office next Friday to follow up on my application. I look forward to hearing from you!
Using the correct tone
When writing a cover letter, you need to consider your tone. When reading the internship description take notice of whether the company culture is more casual or formal. You can match your writing style to suit this. If you know the company has a modern and casual style, then you may like to reflect this in your writing. If the business is more formal, then you can use polite, technical writing.
It is important to be personal where you can. If you know the hiring manager's name, then greet them by name at the beginning of your letter. Always double-check the spelling before sending it. If you are unsure, simply use the most common opening greeting which is “Dear Hiring Manager,”.
How to send a cover letter
Most internship applications will be done digitally. Sometimes companies will have an online submission portal. These allow you to fill out contact information, answer questions and upload your files directly. Other times they will ask you to email them your submissions. If this is the case, there are two ways you can email your cover letter.
- Attach the cover letter to your email. The employer may ask you to attach your cover letter to the email. You can write a short message in the email body and then attach your cover letter at the end. Make sure your cover letter is in PDF format and named appropriately. For example, KateWalsh_CoverLetter.doc helps the employer if they have to search for it later.
- Copy and paste your cover letter into the email body. If the employer does not specify how to send your cover letter you may choose to do it this way. Directly paste your cover letter into the email body, check for any formatting that needs to be fixed and ensure it is addressed to the correct person.
You can follow up on your application unless the internship description specifically says not to. Towards the end of your cover letter, you can state how you intend to follow up. This may be with a phone call in a week to allow the hiring manager sufficient time to review your letter.