How To Write A Cover Letter For An Internship (With Examples)

By Caitlin Mazur and Experts - Oct. 10, 2021

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Applying for an internship is a great way to jump-start the beginning of your career. Every application requires something different in the process. When you’re first starting out in your job search, writing a great cover letter is the best way to get noticed by a potential employer as a valued candidate for the job.

Putting forth the extra effort of articulating your work experience, skills, and education and why it lends itself well to the position you are applying for will set you up for early success with your prospective employer.

Here are some tips for writing an effective internship cover letter.

Internship Cover Letter Format

Most cover letters follow a typical format and internship cover letters are no different. Here’s the general structure we will break down:

  1. A header that lists the date and your contact information

  2. A standard greeting

  3. An opening paragraph that mentions the internship

  4. A middle paragraph that explains why you’re a great fit

  5. A closing paragraph that shows your value and includes a call-to-action

  6. Finally, end your letter with a sign-off and your signature

Start With a Standard Header

Building a header in your cover letter is easy. List your full name and then your contact information directly following, similar to how you build a resume. This allows employers to know exactly who the cover letter is from and how to reach you.

Maria Smith
612 East Street
New York, NY, 10002
maria.smith@gmail.com

How to write a cover letter

Follow Up With a Greeting and Strong Opening Paragraph

Start with a standard greeting. If you know the exact name of the hiring manager, you should use it.

To find the hiring manager’s name, check the job posting for the name of an individual or an email address that clearly indicates a name (e.g., jon.smith@mail.com). If you can’t find a name in the job listing, consult the company’s careers page on their website or check LinkedIn.

If all else fails, you can always call the company and ask who you should address your cover letter to, based on the internship you’re applying for. You can address your cover letter to the person’s full name, or use “Dear Mr./Ms. [Last Name].” We don’t recommend using “Mrs.” ever since it’s tough to find out the marital status of your cover letter’s recipient.

While we recommend trying your best to find a name, it might not always be possible. In those cases, you can simply use “Dear Hiring Manager” or one of its alternatives.

Dear Ms. Candleson,
Dear Jon Brown,
Dear Hiring Manager,

Your opening paragraph should include a few things to stand out.

Be sure your opening contains the exact job title you’re applying for. It’s good practice to emphasize your interest in this position. These two key things can impress the hiring manager and show them that you are thoughtful and pay close attention to detail.

It can also be helpful to human resources departments who may have multiple applications for different roles across the company.

I am interested in applying for the Content Marketing internship at ABC Company.

Next, scour the internship description for keywords that stand out. Write them down or highlight them so that you can use them in your cover letter.

For example, if the job description lists ‘strong writing skills,’ ‘impeccable editing skills,’ and ‘effective communication’ as significant qualities they’re looking for, try to convey those abilities into your cover letter.

Speaking directly to the qualifications listed in the job details will get the attention of the hiring manager. It’s also another detail that many applicants often overlook.

Over the past four years in my studies at Penn State University, I have developed strong writing and editing skills that effectively communicate key details in written works.

Here are a few options for writing a winning cover letter opening. Feel free to use just one or incorporate a few different elements — remember that being concise is also important, especially early on.

  1. Share your enthusiasm for the organization. Hiring managers get tons of applicants for interns. The key to standing out is to do your research and apply what you learn in your cover letter. Write about what drew you to the company based on their values, mission, or something else.

  2. Be passionate. You need to come across as someone who has a deep and abiding love for the field. We know you’re likely fresh out of college (or still in it), but don’t worry about your lack of experience. Instead, focus on your passion and the fresh perspective you’ll bring to the company.

  3. Tell a story. Storytelling is a great way to hook the reader in early. If you have a significant accomplishment under your belt from your time in school or at another job, share it early on.

    Including quantitative data (numbers) to support and give context to your achievement will help hiring managers and recruiters see the true impact of your contributions.

  4. Connect to the company. If you have a personal relationship with the company, whether as a user/consumer of their products or a friend/family member who works there, mentioning it early on can be a smart move.

Middle Paragraph: Relevant Experience, Coursework, and Skills

In your middle paragraphs, focusing on relevant skills is key. Since this is an application for an internship, you may not have any prior relevant work history. By focusing on your skills, you can easily sidestep this issue.

A variety of experiences can be used here. Think about any clubs, groups, or volunteer work you may have participated in. Mention practical skills like time management, multitasking, or your experience working in groups.

If possible, try to use concrete examples with numbers for extra emphasis.

I have always had a love for developing strong and persuasive content. During the summer months, I volunteered at a local library where I focused on their social media marketing activities including Facebook, Twitter, and email newsletters. My attention to detail and carefully constructed prose reached 50,000 members monthly, resulting in a 12% increase in library membership during my time there.

Don’t forget to include information regarding relevant coursework. Since work history might be limited, it’s okay to focus additional attention here.

Discussing your studies is helpful for employers to understand what skills you’ve already learned and which they may need to take time to develop. Be sure to mention any achievements you may have had during your time at school.

I am currently a senior at PSU, working towards a degree in Marketing. I have taken three Persuasive Writing courses as well as an Email and Social Media Marketing course to develop my abilities in writing content that not only resonates but converts. Additionally, I was chosen as a finalist in the PSU Short Story competition for my submission ‘A Life Beyond’ which is featured in the PSU Student Writers Literary Magazine: 2020 Spring Edition.

Closing Paragraph: End With a Pitch

As you would do in sales, it’s important to end with value. Write your closing paragraph explaining how you’d benefit the business with your experience and skills.

Align the key qualifications the employer mentions in the job posting and adjust and prioritize so that they fit your current experience. This isn’t about embellishing, it’s just about adapting so that your abilities get the chance to shine.

As a writer with a variety of narrative, persuasive, and business writing experience, I have the experience and passion needed to write great marketing copy with clear, straightforward words.
or
As a student with a heavy focus in marketing today, I believe I have the experience and passion needed to bring ABC Company’s marketing content to the next level.

Finally, describe why you believe you’re a good fit for the role. This can be anything from aligned values, passion about current projects, or simply your hunger for gaining more experience in a specific area. Be honest! It’s possible your potential employer could bring up details in your cover letter in initial interviews.

I am deeply passionate about providing valuable and interesting content to readers who are hungry to learn. I believe I would make a great addition to ABC Company’s marketing team.

Finally, end your cover letter with a common close and your name. You can use something generic, or end on a more personal note.

Sincerely,
Maria Smith
or
Thank you for your consideration,
Maria Smith

Of course, your work is not done here. You’ll need to write a thoughtful email in which you’ll attach your resume and cover letter. This email should be short and sweet, as the employer will read all the juicy details of your skills and experience in both your cover letter and resume.

Finally, set aside some time to proofread. It’s important to run your letter through a program like Grammarly or Microsoft Word to pick up on any spelling or grammatical errors. You’ll want to focus on being as detail-oriented as possible in your cover letter, to maintain your desired level of professionalism.

For more on getting a job, check out our resource for navigating the job market during Coronavirus as a college student.

Cover Letter for Internship Example

Maria Smith
612 East Street
New York, NY, 10002
maria.smith@gmail.com

Dear Ms. Felton,

I am interested in applying for the Content Marketing internship at ABC Company. Over the past four years in my studies at Penn State University, I have developed strong writing and editing skills that effectively communicate key details in written works.

I have always loved developing strong and persuasive content. During the summer months, I volunteered at a local library where I focused on their social media marketing activities including Facebook, Twitter, and email newsletters. My attention to detail and carefully constructed prose reached 50,000 members monthly, resulting in a 12% increase in library membership during my time there. I am currently a senior at PSU, working towards a degree in Marketing. I have taken three Persuasive Writing courses as well as an Email and Social Media Marketing course to develop my abilities in writing content that not only resonates but converts. Additionally, I was chosen as a finalist in the PSU Short Story competition for my submission ‘A Life Beyond’ which is featured in the PSU Student Writers Literary Magazine: 2020 Spring Edition.

As a writer with a variety of narrative, persuasive, and business writing experience, I have the experience and passion needed to write great marketing copy with clear, straightforward words. I am deeply passionate about providing valuable and interesting content to readers who are hungry to learn. I believe I would make a great addition to ABC Company’s marketing team.

Sincerely,
Maria Smith

Email Cover Letter for Internship Example

Dear Ms. Felton,

Attached, please find my resume and cover letter for the Content Marketing internship at ABC company.

Thank you for your consideration,
Maria Smith

Cover Letter for Internship Tips

To make sure your cover letter for an internship is well-received, make sure to follow these tips:

  • Use keywords. In today’s world, the job application game is all about keywords. Many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to parse application materials to make sure you meet certain criteria. That means that upwards of 75% of applications are tossed out by software before ever reaching an actual hiring manager or recruiter.

    To avoid this problem, make sure both your resume and cover letter are optimized with keywords. The most important keywords to incorporate are those you find in the job description. Look for terms that are repeated often or otherwise emphasized as essential. Then, look for ways to honestly bring up those qualifications in your cover letter.

  • Customize each cover letter. Writing a good cover letter can be time-consuming, but we recommend customizing each cover letter you write for the specific company and internship opportunity. Hiring managers can tell a generic cover letter from a customized one, and you’d better believe that most internships are fiercely competitive.

    If you want a chance of standing out and getting a great internship opportunity right out of school, make the extra effort to optimize your cover letter based on the job description.

  • Leverage your college activities. For most job-seekers, a cover letter shouldn’t dwell too much on education beyond possibly mentioning your relevant degrees.

    But for internships, your educational achievements are the most recent, relevant, and compelling assets you have. Pay special attention to successful group projects you participated in — jobs in the real world rarely happen without collaboration.

    That said, if you had relevant professional experience during your time in college, either through a formal job or volunteering, it’s also good to include that in your cover letter. Even being an active participant in a college club or extracurricular activity can make you stand out, so long as you’re able to tie those experiences in as valuable for the job you’re applying for.

  • Stick to proper cover letter length. Cover letters should be between 200-400 words long, about half a page, and 3-4 paragraphs. Ideally, you should stick to at or below 300 words. Hiring managers are busy people, and most cover letters are skimmed rather than read. Make your cover letter easy to skim and only include relevant information.

  • Don’t get fancy. It’s common for recent graduates to assume the whole corporate world uses the same $5 words that your college professor wants you to use in your exam papers. That’s not the case.

    People prefer short, easy-to-read sentences and commonly-used words. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that using big words and complicated sentence structures makes you sound smart — it turns people off and makes you seem inauthentic.

Cover Letter for an Internship FAQ

  1. Do I need a cover letter for an internship?

    Yes, you do need a cover letter for an internship. You more than likely don’t have much relevant work experience going into an internship, so it’s going to be important that you point out the connections between the skills and experience you do have with the internship you’re applying for, and a cover letter is the easiest way to do that.

    In addition to showing how your skills will help you in the internship, a cover letter allows you to share your other most sellable quality with hiring managers: your passion for the work you’d be doing in the position.

    Talking about why you want to enter the industry, the company, and the specific role will go a long way in convincing hiring managers to give you an interview, especially if you explain how your passion will further the organization.

    Even with these reasons in favor of writing a cover letter for an internship, there are also exceptions to the rule, and one of the biggest is if the employer specifically tells you not to include a cover letter or does not provide space to submit one. This is rare, but it’s important to know that it is possible to find yourself in this situation.

    Other exceptions include not being able to ensure grammatical accuracy and not being able to tailor your letter to the position you’re applying for. Writing a cover letter riddled with errors or written for multiple positions will do you little to no good and may even drag down your application.

  2. How do I write a cover letter for a competitive internship?

    To write a cover letter for a competitive internship, you need to find and focus on your qualifications that match the internship requirements best. These may include your work experience, technical skills, soft skills, interests, and goals, or some combination of all of them.

    When you’re writing a cover letter, you should have three body paragraphs. The first one is a brief opener that identifies the internship you’re applying for and hooks the reader in. You can do this with a story, a connection with the company, or a summary of your most impressive and applicable qualifications.

    Your next paragraph will be where you describe why you’d be a good fit for the internship and what sets you apart from other candidates. Show how your skills, experiences, goals, and interests align with the position.

    As you write, reference the internship job description to make sure you incorporate the keywords listed in its requirements into your cover letter.

    Don’t lie or even stretch the truth, but if the posting says, “strong communication skills,” use that verbiage instead of saying something like “excellent speaker and writer.”

    This will help both human and electronic screeners find the qualifications they’re looking for in your application more easily and increase your chances of getting through to the next stage of the hiring process.

    Finally, close with an overview of what you would add to the team, department, or company if you were an intern there and a call to action. This could be a request for an interview or a more subtle note about how you’d like to talk to the hiring manager some more about the position.

    Always add a note of thanks for the reader’s time as well.

  3. How can I get an internship with no experience?

    You can get an internship with no experience by showing hiring managers how to apply your skills and experience to the internship.

    Internships are designed for candidates with little to no relevant professional experience, so don’t sweat it if you haven’t worked in the industry before. A lack of experience just means you’ll need to work a little harder on your cover letter to show why you are qualified for the position.

    To do this, look at the internship description and note any of the qualifications you meet, drawing on your classroom experience, volunteer work, or any other kind of professional or semi-professional opportunities.

    For example, you might have learned communication and conflict management skills from working on group projects in college, and you might have developed your customer service skills while volunteering for a food pantry or working in a coffee shop. All of this experience is valuable, and employers will respect it.

    Because of this, your goal in writing your cover letter should be to help the reader see the connection between your experience and skills and the internship’s requirements.

    In addition, you should also express your passion for the industry and desire to be a part of this internship. Enthusiasm is also a valuable asset in interns, as workers who are already excited to be a part of the organization are easier to train and more likely to work hard and learn quickly.

  4. What typically qualifies you for an internship?

    Having some applicable professional or educational experience, soft skills, and enthusiasm typically qualifies you for an internship. The technical details of this will change depending on the industry, company, and position, but these are the general qualifications you need to have.

    Most internships aren’t expecting to get candidates with years of industry experience or even much professional experience of any kind.

    Instead, they look for students or recent graduates who have taken enough classes to have the basic technical skills needed to help out the company: strong soft skills like communication and time management, and an enthusiasm for working hard and learning.

    Because your qualifying skills come from so many different experiences, your cover letter is vital to helping hiring managers connect the dots between your resume and the internship. Look closely at the requirements listed for the position you’re applying for and note which ones you meet. Then find a way to work those into your cover letter.

    Making these connections for hiring managers allows them to easily see what you bring to the table and why they should hire you as an intern.

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Author

Caitlin Mazur

Caitlin Mazur is a freelance writer at Zippia. Caitlin is passionate about helping Zippia’s readers land the jobs of their dreams by offering content that discusses job-seeking advice based on experience and extensive research. Caitlin holds a degree in English from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA.

Expert

Matt Warzel, CPRW, CIR

Matt Warzel a President of a resume writing firm (MJW Careers, LLC) with 15+ years of recruitment, outplacement, career coaching and resume writing experience. Matt is also a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Marketing Focus) from John Carroll University.

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