How to Write an Internship Cover Letter: Examples & Tips
Reviewed by Jacob Imm
Mar 18, 2022
How to Write an Internship Cover Letter: Examples & Tips
Before the days of applying for jobs online, the cover letter had the perfect name; it was the cover page for your paper resume. Today, the cover letter doesn’t physically cover anything. It’s simply one of the many digital attachments you’ll add to your internship application form.
While your cover letter is no longer the first page of your application, it’s still the hiring manager’s first impression of you as a person. Whether you’re on the job search or you’re applying for an internship position that could carry you straight into your career, it’s essential to make that introduction count.
This guide on writing an internship cover letter will help you put your best foot forward.
What is the Purpose of a Cover Letter?
Without a solid understanding of a cover letter’s purpose, it’s easy to wander off track when writing it. So, before we provide writing tips and internship cover letter examples, let’s explore the importance of a strong cover letter in the hiring process.
In short, a strong cover letter gives you the chance to:
- Expand on the point-form nature of your resume – A resume is little more than a list of fast facts about you. It tells an employer about your experience, but it can’t explain how that experience is relevant to the internship. A cover letter, on the other hand, can
- Tailor your application to the role – Because your resume is a personal history, it’s unchanging. You’ll likely use a very similar resume for each internship application. Conversely, the cover letter is your opportunity to add more internship-specific details.
If you see that a cover letter is optional for an application, don’t skip it. According to a ResumeLab survey of hiring managers, “83% [of] respondents claimed that a great cover letter can secure you an interview even if your resume isn’t good enough.”
That figure may seem high, but think about the information that document holds. Your cover letter offers hints about your personality, your writing skills and your goals—all things that a resume can’t do.
Writing An Internship Cover Letter, Step by Step (With Examples)
A typical cover letter for an internship should include five sections:
- A header
- A greeting
- An introduction
- A body section (one or two paragraphs)
- A conclusion
Open up a blank document, make yourself some coffee or tea, and follow these five steps for a top-notch cover letter.
Step 1: The Header
A header provides essential information at first glance. Your header should include your full name, your email address, your phone number and, if relevant, your physical or home address. This section of your header can be aligned in the center or left justified, depending on your preference of format.
Below your personal information, you should include the date and the hiring manager details on the left side of the page.
An Example Header
February 13, 2022
Jane Doe, Hiring Manager
Example Company Name
City, State, ZIP code
Step 2: The Greeting
The greeting sets the tone for the rest of the cover letter; aim to be courteous and conversational. A greeting is also incomplete without a name. Always try to address the hiring manager by name to prove you’ve done your research.
In professional workplaces, you should use their title and full name. For more casual businesses, you may opt to use only their first name.
If you can find the name of the hiring manager:
Dear Ms. Jane Doe,
If you can’t address your letter to a specific person:
Dear Hiring Manager,
Step 3: The Opening Paragraph
The first paragraph contextualizes your application and introduces you to the hiring manager. It should include your reason for applying and a high-level summary of your qualifications.
While you may be tempted to start with a line like, “I’m applying to work as an intern at Example Company,” aim for something more compelling. The hiring manager already knows which position you’re applying for; take this opportunity to wow them instead.
An Example First Paragraph
With my graduation from the Example School business program around the corner, I’m looking to bring my passion for marketing into a workplace that drives change in the industry. Between my in-school experience and my work helping entrepreneurs, I’m confident I can bring fresh new ideas to Example Company as an intern.
Step 4: The Body Paragraph(s)
The following one or two paragraphs should be where you sell yourself. Write about any significant accomplishments and the relevant experience you have. Adding statistics or verifiable facts can further elevate your cover letter.
An Example Second Paragraph
My knowledge of market trends and knack for visuals have propelled me to the top of my classes. My time in the debate club has allowed me to hone my communication skills. Outside of college, I’ve helped fellow students grow their businesses by offering my knowledge of digital marketing. For one dropshipping operation, I increased sales by 25% over three months by leveraging social media ads.
Step 5: The Closing Paragraph
This section is where you can relate your experience to the internship and explain why you’re the best candidate for the role. Be sure to include a thank-you and a sign-off at the end.
An Example Final Paragraph
These accomplishments are aligned perfectly with the work that Example Company does. Apart from my technical skills, I believe my ambition makes me an excellent candidate for this internship. To me, self-improvement is a never-ending journey, and I’m excited for the opportunity to learn from the best at Example Company.
Thanks for taking the time to read my cover letter. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Internship Cover Letter Tips and Tricks
Once you understand the framework of a standard cover letter, it’s time to fine-tune the appearance and the content. Here are some general cover letter tips that you can leverage when applying to internships.
Make a Strong First Impression
Before a hiring manager begins reading your cover letter, they’ll notice the formatting. Cover letters should be simple; there’s no need to go overboard with borders or graphics.
For a proper cover letter, be sure to:
- Use a professional, easy-to-read font like Calibri or Arial
- Write in 10- or 12-point font
- Align your document to the left
Remember: Shorter is Better
You can value a company’s time and your own by keeping your cover letter short and to the point. Writing three or four paragraphs is sufficient, and it should all fit on one page.
To keep your cover letter on the shorter side, you can omit some of your accomplishments or your less relevant experience, as this information will be available on your resume.
Keep the Tone Conversational
Your writing should be professional without feeling robotic. Consider the following two sentences:
“I am writing this cover letter to apply for the internship at your company.”
“I’m writing to express my interest in Example Company’s summer internship.”
Notice how the first line feels somewhat sterile. The lack of contractions and plain language remove all of the personality from the sentence. On the other hand, the second line feels warm and engaging while remaining business-like. That’s the tone you’re striving to achieve.
Demonstrate Your Worth
The company you’re applying to knows you want to intern there; otherwise, you wouldn’t have sent them a resume! Instead of writing about why you want the internship, focus on how the company can benefit from taking you on as an intern.
Don’t Worry About Your Lack of Work Experience
Companies know that interns from colleges typically have little to no work experience. Rather than mentioning your lack of on-the-job experience, find ways to make your coursework and extracurriculars highlight your relevant skills.
For example, you can talk about:
- How you took the lead in a school project
- Your appreciation for teamwork as a member of the football team
- A victory at the state science fair
- Your time tutoring other students
Work Smarter, Not Harder
You should tailor your cover letter to each internship you’re applying to, but you don’t need to start from scratch every time. Instead, try drafting up a “template” cover letter with your major accomplishments, transferable skills, and tweak it to suit each new application.
Don’t Forget to Edit
There’s nothing more off-putting in a cover letter than an obvious typo or a formatting issue. These errors may seem insignificant, but to a hiring manager, they show a lack of attention to detail.
To perfect your writing before sending your application, try these proofreading tips:
- Read your cover letter out loud
- Change the font to make errors more visible
- Use grammar-checking software
- Ask a friend to read your cover letter
- Use a text-to-speech tool and listen back to your writing
Where to Find More Support for Writing Cover Letters
The best colleges recognize the important role that internships play in helping students reach their career goals and provide the necessary support to help students land these roles. Many schools offer cover letter workshops or help from career counselors. From answering questions like “What is an internship?” to explaining the differences in an externship vs. internship, you can always find help.
Look for a college like North Central College, where students and alumni can access online resources surrounding internships and jobs or work directly with the Office of Career Development to put their best foot forward.
For more advice on landing your dream internship, view our list of common internship interview questions and how to prepare.
Jacob Imm is the assistant director of communications at North Central College Office of Marketing and Communications. He has 11 years of collegiate communications experience and has worked with hundreds of college students. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University.
Tomaszewski, M. (2021, December 23). Is a Cover Letter Necessary in 2022? Do I Need a Cover Letter? ResumeLab. Retrieved January 19, 2022, from https://resumelab.com/cover-letter/are-cover-letters-necessary