5 Tips for an Effective Internship Cover Letter
When looking for an internship, it’s important to find ways to distinguish yourself from all the other applicants. One way to do this is to include a cover letter with your resume. Cover letters are great for providing potential employers with additional information about your education, achievements and skills, and work experience. Here are some tips to help you write a great internship cover letter.
Formatting Your Cover Letter
A cover letter should be just shy of one page in length, typically consisting of three paragraphs. First, include your contact information at the top of the page. Provide your name, phone number, email address, and location. In certain cases, applicants will include the name of their degree program in this section, but this is optional. Next, include the date the cover letter was written, the name of the company you’re applying to, and the name of the internship program’s contact person. If you are unable to find a contact name, you could use “To Whom it May Concern,” but be warned that most companies see this practice as being somewhat antiquated. The top of your cover letter should look like this:
[Your phone number] | [your email address] | [your location]
Dear [contact name],
The first paragraph should include a brief introduction and a statement explaining why you feel you’d be a good fit for the program. Here, include any experiences and coursework that are directly related to the internship program’s job listing. We’ll go into further detail about the second and third paragraphs of your cover letter in just a bit. For more information on how to format your cover letter, check out our advice here.
Tailor Your Cover Letter
When writing any cover letter, whether it be for an internship or a full-time job, it’s important to tailor the letter for the specific position you’re applying for. If the hiring manager gets the impression that you’re sending the same generic, cut and paste cover letter to every internship you apply for, they might not consider you for the role.
A good way to start is to express your excitement for the company and its internship program. To do this, perform some research on the company’s website and social media pages. You should be able to learn a lot about the company, such as its core values, workplace environment, perks, the internship program itself, and perhaps information about the leadership team. Here is an example of an opening sentence that has been tailored to a specific company and program:
- “I’m excited to submit my application for [company name]’s award-winning Data Science Summer Internship Program.”
Nowadays, many employers…ehem…employ specialized software that is designed to scan and detect certain keywords included in applicants’ cover letters and resumes. You can take advantage of this by studying the company’s website and internship job description, and mixing some of the verbiage into your own cover letter. Let’s say the job description lists communication and time management skills as requirements. Here, you could provide examples of scenarios where you displayed either or both of those skills.
Talk About Your Experience and Skills
The second paragraph of your cover letter is where your experience and skills get to shine. In this section of your cover letter, include any coursework that is relevant to the position you’re applying for, along with applicable knowledge and skills you have gained so far. This is especially helpful if you have little or no job experience, as your studies and projects might directly relate to the internship job description.
If you have a part-time job and you feel that your experience is relevant to the internship, you can also include that in the second paragraph. Keep in mind that while relevant part-time job experience can be helpful when looking for an internship, it’s not a necessity—internships are designed for students with little to no real-world work experience, and any good hiring manager is aware of this.
Include Your Goals
The third and final paragraph of your cover letter is where you should describe your goals and what you hope to achieve through the internship program, along with what you can bring to the table. For example, you could say that the internship will be a great way for you to gain hands-on experience in your field, develop valuable skills, and forge new and meaningful professional relationships.
As always, it’s important to consult the internship job listing when describing what you can offer to the program. If the job description states that you’ll be working on real-world projects, you could say that you hope to develop new and innovative practices that can be used to increase the company’s efficiency. This will show the hiring manager that not only are you motivated to learn, but that you’re also driven to contribute to the company in a positive way.
Perhaps the best part about including a cover letter with your internship application is that it gives potential employers a sense of who you are as a person. If you’re truly excited about your experience and the prospect of participating in a great internship, that energy will be apparent in your cover letter, and this will increase your chances of getting hired.