You’re on the hunt for relevant experience in your field of study, and you’ve found the perfect internship. The next step would be to apply by sending the employer of the host company your cover letter and resume. Most students will overlook the importance of an internship cover letter and mistakenly think the hiring agent will only be interested in their resume; but to stand out and give yourself a better chance of succeeding, you must perceive your cover letter as an opportunity to prove yourself as the best candidate for the role.
When applying for a position in the ‘real world’, you’re expected to have a few substantial qualifications in your toolkit. However, as someone seeking an internship, you are most likely limited to experiences you’ve had within the classroom. To get around this, your cover letter will outline the key transferable skills and experiences you’ve developed throughout your tertiary education, which best fit your role. This article will detail what information, format and formalities you need in your letter to capture the attention of prospective employees.
Internship cover letters are typically in a business letter format. This entails a proper structure including your name, contact details and date at the top of the page, followed by the contact information of the employer you are addressing. For letters via email, you can opt to place your contact information in your email signature to hone in a professional touch.
The conventions of a business format for internship letters is to cap your body of text to four brief paragraphs. You should expect the employer to only skim this letter so it should be easy to navigate and scanned over within a matter of 10-30 seconds- clear and concise paragraphs will do the trick for encompassing all the necessary points you need to make. For efficiency’s sake, follow this checklist to maximise the potential of your cover letter.
1. Your contact information
2. Company and employer’s contact information
3. Salutations: Formally address the hiring agent or host company
4. Paragraph #1: State your application and introduce yourself
5. Paragraph #2: Share your relevant skills and coursework to qualify yourself
6. Paragraph #3: Align your goals, interests and values with the company
7. Paragraph #4: Call to action
8. Outro: Sign off
This being said, many industries appreciate creative flair shown through cover letters and resumes such as in marketing or design fields- if this is relevant to you, feel free to modify and tweak this structure to demonstrate some artistic aptitude. Adjust the structure or reconstruct it to your own discretion, as it gives you an opportunity to visually express your talents beyond stating them through words on a page. It’s a simple but impactful strategy to grab the attention of your reader whilst emphasising your awareness of the field and tactical thinking. The most striking internship cover letters will lend to a perfect balance between personality and professionalism.
The paragraphs throughout this letter will be brief and dense with information. After introducing your name, education level, majors and/or school, this first section should highlight the specific role you are applying for (e.g. civil engineering internship at Roadcross Inc.). The aim is to convince your hiring agent that you have not just submitted a generic cover letter that you’ve copy-pasted into a couple of other emails to different companies. Hiring agents normally juggle with countless job applications for a variety of job positions, so you should provide this contextual evidence to make their job easier and appeal to them. Give the impression that you have given their job listing a lot of thought and consideration by tailoring this headlining address to the specific company.
This opening paragraph should also make mention of how you discovered the internship listing. Hiring agents and employers are very interested in knowing which job posting channel they employ is most effective in reaching candidates.
It is understandable for most students to have little to no job experience to beef up their resumes or internship cover letters. So don’t fret! Describing your relevant coursework can be just as valuable to employers. Perhaps you can share relevant subjects or projects you’ve completed at university, or any accomplishments/awards you were acknowledged for to prove your talents. Emphasising your academic experience will imply you possess a set of particular skills which the company can help develop.
You can also try including your extracurricular experiences such as volunteer work or ‘shadowing’ experience because these count as ‘real world’ fieldwork. Having these relevant accounts of fieldwork will tell employers a lot about what you are familiar with and they can imply the level of writing/ interpersonal/ business planning skills you can offer to enrich their company.
Even without professional or long-term industry experience, you have a multitude of relevant transferable skills to boast as expertise or relevant knowledge fit for an internship.
To truly prove you’re the best fit for the internship role, you need to align your values, beliefs and passions with that of the company. Summarise the values you share with the company, ensuring you are emphasising the fact the company’s needs and demands are also your priority to satisfy to the best of your ability. It helps to review the internship posting to seek out what the employer looks for in a candidate to understand what the company’s overarching values and goals are.
In the same paragraph, include a description of what you would like to gain from the internship, branching off from what your goals and vision are for taking on an internship at the company. Employers offer internship programs with the intention to upskill, network and build the experience of their students; after explaining what you’re offering in return, make a note in your cover letter of what you wish to learn throughout the internship.
The final paragraph should provoke or engage the most with the reader by requesting their response or interaction with you. Your call to action should look like you are scheduling a follow-up or call with the hiring agent for further information.
At this point, it is a good idea to review your letter and check if you have peppered in the right number of keywords or buzzwords drawn from the job advertisement to draw the recruiter’s eyes to the relevant professional information you have provided. It’s an effective strategy to make your internship cover letter seem more put together and individualised.
Sign off with a statement to express your gratitude for the opportunity they are offering and interest in attending an interview. This outro must be kept short; one sentence at most. Your closing remark should be sincere and be as short and sweet as possible to not deter attention from your body of text.
Your internship cover letter is almost done! Read over it a few more times to proofread and make sure you’ve kept your points direct and targetted. Ask a relative or friend for a new perspective and feedback. You’re all set after that! Good luck with your internship application and submission!