Applying for an internship is often the first time you have to deal with cover letters, resumes and the like. Writing a good cover letter for an internship can seem daunting – you often don’t have a lot of work experience to rely on and you might not be sure what is expected of you in the role and the letter.

In this guide, we’ll examine the elements of a good cover letter and its structure. There is even a sample letter for you to use as guidance for your internship cover letter.

ELEMENTS OF A GOOD INTERNSHIP COVER LETTER

So, what are the elements of a good internship cover letter? How can you tell you are writing a winning letter that’ll help boost your chances of landing the spot? There are four key elements to a good internship cover letter:

Tailored to the specific internship

Like any good cover letter, the one for an internship must be tailored for the role you are applying for. While it’s a good idea to have a basic cover letter ready for applications, you always need to tailor and tweak the letter further based on the specific role. Each time you apply for a new internship, you need to re-write your cover letter to ensure maximum impact.

Internships are different and companies have different ways of approaching internships. It’s, therefore, crucial to read the ad regarding the internship position and pay attention to it. The company will surely highlight the skills it wants the person to have, as well as list the kind of jobs you will need to perform as part of the internship. Furthermore, you want to do a bit of research on the company culture – what kind of place is the company to work?

Based on the information, you will need to ensure your work, academic and extracurricular experience relates to the position and is relevant for the tasks you need to perform. There is no reason to talk about certain skills if they are in no way relevant to this internship. This is similar to writing any cover letter – you should only emphasize the skills and qualifications that are relevant and required in the position you are applying for.

So, let’s say the internship ad says:

“You’ll be required to work as part of a team of eight people.”

That means you want to highlight skills and characteristics that emphasize things like:

“I’m a team player and have been an active member of the organising committee for the debating team for a year.”

Inclusion of specific examples

Now, you don’t want to just list your skills and experience in a passive manner. It’s important to provide the company with examples of those skills. You want to go beyond just stating that you are passionate about the industry or a detail-oriented person – you want to show why you are making this claim.

For example, instead of simply stating you are passionate about journalism (when applying for an internship at a newspaper), you want to qualify this claim. You are probably studying a closely related qualification and perhaps you’ve been part of the school’s paper for a number of years. You might even have taken extra courses on good writing and so on. It’s important to not just say you have skills and experience but to truly show it in action.

When you are including specific examples to your internship cover letter, you want to quantify your examples as much as possible. This means using figures as proof. So, instead of saying how you’ve been working as a maths tutor, you state exactly how many years you’ve worked as a tutor. Quantitative proof would include things like:

  • The number of years or other duration of doing something.
  • Percentages or grades of achievements.

Remember your examples can come from your past work experience. But as you are applying for an internship and you might be studying, you might have limited work experience. This is not a problem, as you can draw much more examples from extracurricular activities – for example, include any relevant charity or volunteering work you’ve done.

Showing eagerness to improve and learn

Since an internship is a position aimed at someone who doesn’t yet have the experience to do the full job, your cover letter should also focus on what you want to gain from this opportunity. The company is not looking for a seasoned professional but someone who can learn about the role and help the organization in the process. Therefore, your internship cover letter must show enthusiasm and willingness to learn.

Your cover letter shouldn’t just be about your experience and talent. You also want to include a section that outlines what you look forward to gaining from the position. You want to show how the internship fits your bigger career plans and how you think it would help take those plans forward.

This can actually be vital information for the employer because it highlights that you understand the role. If you can be specific about the skills you are hoping to gain, it means you understand the specifics of the role. This will tell the employer you have a good grasp of what it takes to succeed in the internship position and that you are aware of your own strengths and areas of improvement.

Good editing

Finally, a good internship cover letter has been edited properly. It might be your first cover letter but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn to edit it properly. It’s important to make the cover letter look and feel as professional as possible.

The most important thing is to proofread your cover letter. You don’t want it to have any grammar or spelling mistakes. If you can, show the cover letter to a friend or family member – a second proofreading by someone who hasn’t read it before can help spot those small mistakes.

You also need to ensure all the information is correct. If you’ve included dates, make sure they are correct (never lie in a cover letter!) and your details should be up to date. Use appropriate business etiquette in the cover letter. This means addressing the right person with the right title and including the date and end greeting to your letter.

A cover letter shouldn’t exceed a single page, so ensure you don’t blabber on. Select a font that’s easy to read and don’t make it smaller than 10 points or the letter will be difficult to read.

THE STRUCTURE OF A GREAT INTERNSHIP COVER LETTER

Now you know the elements of a good internship cover letter. But how should you structure your letter? What kind of information to include and in what order? Before you can view a sample cover letter, here is the structure and format to use in your letter.

Your contact details

The top of the letter should include your contact details. You need to include your full name, your address, your phone number (include both landline and mobile, if possible) and your email address. Remember to have a proper email address – joke addresses are good for correspondence with friends, not for contacting your possible employers.

The date of the letter

Beneath the contact details, you should place the date of the letter.

The contact details of the person/department/business

Now, depending on how much you know about whom to address the application to, you want to include full contact details of the person next. You can usually find the information on the internship ad but it might be a good idea to check with the company’s HR department. If you don’t find the person’s details, you can simply include the department or company details here.

The greeting

As mentioned previously, you need to follow the appropriate business etiquette. This means starting your letter with an appropriate greeting aimed at the person in question. Here are examples of good internship cover letter greetings:

Dear Ms / Mr Last Name
Dear Ms Smith

Dear Full Name
Dear Janet Smith

Dear Title (Professor, Dr, Dean, Judge) Last Name
Dear Professor Smith

If you don’t know who will be reading the letter, you can start by saying “Dear Recruiter/Hiring Manager”. Using the job title or generic term like that is preferred to “To Whom It May Concern”, which is too vague, impersonal and overused.

The first paragraph

The first paragraph of your cover letter should include an introduction of who you are. You want to start by mentioning your name and the internship position you are applying for – this is important as the person might read internship cover letters for multiple roles in the organization. You want to immediately let the person know what the letter is about – if it’s for the wrong person, they can forward it without wasting time on it.

It’s also common to mention how you found out about the opening. This can be helpful to the organization in terms of tracking what advertisements work or if information spreads word-of-mouth and so on.

The second paragraph

After the introduction, you want to move on to outlining your current situation and how it relates to the internship. You are probably at university or other vocational school and you should mention this on the second paragraph.

You also want to draw a direct link of relevancy to the position and use your current situation as a show of passion towards the industry, for instance.

The third paragraph

In the next paragraph, you want to delve deeper into what you are looking forward to most in the role. You want to explain your future career goals and dreams and how the role relates to these. You also want to mention with a few sentences what you hope the internship will give you and the skills you think it will teach you.

The fourth paragraph

Finally, you want to write a few sentences about your skills and talent in more detail. It is possible to list the key skills in a bullet point format as long as you remember to also include the example. You want your examples be as recent as possible and highlight the skills and talents as well as you can.

The concluding remarks

At the end, you need to make a few concluding remarks. The key here is to thank for the opportunity and to offer your help in case the person has any questions. You also want to offer your availability to be interviewed at a convenient time. You can re-mention your contact details by outlining your phone number and email, including the most convenient time to contact, for example.

The goodbye and your signature

You should then use an appropriate goodbye. Examples include:

Sincerely

Regards

Yours truly

Yours sincerely

Sincerely

Best regards

Cordially

Yours respectfully

If you are sending the letter by post, include your actual signature and clarification for name. If the cover letter is email or sent digitally, you can just write your name at the end.

SAMPLE COVER LETTER FOR INTERNSHIP

With the above information in mind, here’s a sample cover letter for an internship position. You can use this as the model for your cover letter for a variety of internship positions.

Jane Smith
Street address 123
Dream Town, Soft State 12345
123 987 654
janesmith@email.com

24th October 2017

John Doe
Senior HR Manager
ZYX Company
45 Building Block
Dream Town, Soft State 12345

Dear Mr Doe,

I’m a third-year student of Journalism at ZYX University and I’m interested in applying for the journalism internship available at ZYX Company. I noticed the position advertised on my university’s Career Services and I believe my research and observational skills make me an ideal candidate for the role.

As a journalism student, I have acquired skills in research, interviewing, writing and editing. I have received over 80% on all my coursework and I was selected to receive a special award by my professors after my first year.

I have always been passionate about journalism as a career choice. I have volunteered in my local newspaper for three past summers and would love to have this opportunity to internship at ZYX Company. The position would help me deepen my research skills and broaden my knowledge on international journalism, which is exactly what I’d love to do after graduating.

Aside from volunteering, I have been writing a weekly column for the university newspaper and worked as a research assistant to a PhD student at my department. I believe this particular role has improved my research skills and ability to analyse data quickly. I have enclosed a few example columns to this letter for you to look at.

I would love to talk more about the role and you can reach me at 123 987 654 and my email janesmith@email.com. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jane Smith

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Your internship cover letter should follow the usual formatting rules of a cover letter. In terms of the content, the key thing is to ensure you highlight the skills and experience that’s relevant to the internship position. You need to be able to show why you’d be the right pick and the benefits you could provide to the company.

However, you also want to focus on your passion for the industry and the role, showing what you believe you could learn from the role and how this would help you in your future career. This shows you understand the role and that you have the right drive to perform well in the position.

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