When you are looking for employment it pays to have experience, and that’s why internships are a favourable choice for many students and undergraduates. Your internship cover letter needs to be engaging, as there is often fierce competition for these roles.
Internships are most common during the summer months, where students put down their study materials for a few months and head off to the world of work. It benefits both parties, as the company gets an insight into the abilities of the intern without making a long-term commitment, and the intern gets that much-needed experience within the field they wish to work in.
Internships are extremely common within the engineering sector as well as many others. Some companies will employ their intern every summer throughout their studies and then hire them permanently when the studies are complete. Internships can be paid or unpaid, however, recent trends have shown an increase in more paying opportunities. In most cases, employers will pay a salary, although it won’t usually be as high as it is for a permanent employee.
A great cover letter is one of the best advantages you can give yourself when it’s time to apply to a competitive internship. This guide, together with our internship cover letter example, will discuss the following:
- The relevant paragraphs to have on your cover letter and the general format and structure
- Making the most impact with each paragraph on your cover letter
- How to ensure your internship cover letter is both personable and professional
- Common mistakes on cover letters and how to avoid these
Resume.io is a resource for job seekers – whether they’re applying to their first internship or a role where they’ll hire the interns! To find even more tips and advice on how to write a cover letter in your chosen field, check out our cover letter examples.
The market is a bit unstable due to Covid, but 69% of employers are planning to offer virtual work or hybrid programmes, an Institute of Student Employers (ISE) survey found.
Best format for an internship cover letter
As you may not have any prior work experience, the internship cover letter will tell the reader about your personal and academic journey, albeit briefly. As with any great story, there needs to be a beginning, middle, and end, and therefore, it is vital to create and adhere to a defined format when writing your cover letter.
When writing your internship cover letter, you should make sure it contains the following key elements:
- Your cover letter header (key contact details)
- Your greeting/salutation to the relevant contact
- The introduction (starting your story)
- The body of the cover letter (main section)
- The conclusion (final thoughts and sign off)
You can use the cover letter samples throughout the guide for inspiration.
With the format of the internship cover letter, you want to ensure the reader understands your motivation and future career plans. An internship cover letter can be a bit trickier than applying for permanent roles, as you may not have any relevant experience, and as we mentioned earlier, there is usually a lot of competition.
For further general advice on how to write your cover letter, check out our comprehensive cover letter guide to maximise the effectiveness of each section.
Cover letter header
At the top of your cover letter, you will need to include your telephone number, email address, and any other useful contact details in the header. These may be a little dull, but they are essential, as if you don’t have these, the hiring manager won’t be able to contact you. Do not underestimate the power of a cover letter. Even though it is brief, hiring managers are often so busy that they may just quickly pull out the information they need from your cover letter, and give you a call before checking your CV. Your header allows them to do that.
Double-check personal details before you submit.
It can be easy to make a typo with your email address or telephone number, and if your email bounces back or your telephone number doesn’t work, the hiring manager isn’t going to start trying to track you down by other means. They simply don’t have time. Make sure you don’t forget to double-check your details, while you are proofing the rest of your internship cover letter.
The purpose of the cover letter header: This is where your contact details will be. The key information to allow the hiring manager to get in touch with you.
Cover letter greeting
Whether speaking to a friend, family member, or in a professional capacity, almost every conversation starts with a greeting. Your greeting can make an impact and with a cover letter, you want to come across as friendly, but also professional. This is why it is important to be personable in your approach, but without being overly familiar. There is a fine line between the two.
A cover letter should start with a greeting such as “Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms. Surname” instead of a simple ‘hello’ which is more relevant to informal emails. If there is no name on the job spec, it is perfectly acceptable to just say “Dear Hiring Manager”, “Recruitment Team” or similar, although personalising it is always preferable.
Keep it simple and start off on the right footing by building a rapport, while being respectful at the same time. It may not seem particularly important, but how you address people is relevant, especially on a formal document.
The main purpose of the cover letter greeting: Get off on the right foot – be personable, while also ensuring your greeting is professional. Use our cover letter sample below to give you an idea of what to write on your own.
Cover letter introduction
The first 1-2 sentences of your cover letter are called the introduction. You really want to ensure the reader sits up and takes notice from the offset, and your introduction will act as a hook. Your introduction only needs to be a couple of sentences, but these sentences must count.
You may not have any experience, so what makes you an ideal candidate for the internship? Consider the job spec and what skills you have that would be a good match for what they’re looking for. What value can you bring and why do you want to work for this company specifically?
The hiring manager isn’t expecting anything in-depth from your experience. They know that most candidates do not have experience, so they’re looking to understand any relevant skills and qualifications you have. They also want to know why you have chosen to apply for this company specifically.
Let’s say you are studying human resources and applying for an internship with a recruitment agency. You want to inform the reader of any skills/experience that might be relevant. For instance, recruitment agencies often look for candidates with sales skills. Have you worked in retail or customer service before? What aspect of recruitment attracts you to want an internship?
The aim of the cover letter intro: Work out what your most important message is and make sure that it fits with the nature of the role. Grab their attention and they will be curious to read further. Check out our cover letter sample below for guidance.
Dear Mr. White,
After completing the Recruitment and Selection module in my Human Resources degree course, I realised that this was an area I had a particular interest in. I would relish the opportunity to help candidates gain employment, as well as acquiring new opportunities for candidates.
Cover letter middle part (body)
The middle part of the cover letter (the body) is the section of the cover letter that will state the most important aspects of your experience. Even if you do not have direct experience, like the recruitment internship example we mentioned above, you can talk about the skills you have acquired that are relevant to the role and your interest in working for this company.
Internships are different from applying to a role where experience is necessary. The hiring manager is not expecting you to have experience, so don’t worry about this. They know that you are a student or newly qualified graduate, so their expectation is based on your desire to work for them and in this role, as well as any relevant skills you have.
Most companies don’t just think about internships as a one-off, they hire interns with the view that they will recruit them for a permanent role in the future. The main thing for them is that you will be driven, and eager to learn. You want the reader to finish the internship cover letter completely convinced that you would take everything you can from the internship. That you will soak up any training and benefit from it.
They also want to be sure that you will be able to get on with others and work well with a range of personalities. Communication will always be a key factor in any role.
The aim of the main section of the cover letter: What relevant experience can you bring, why are you applying to work with this organisation specifically? The cover letter sample below will give you some inspiration to use.
I have several years’ experience of working within retail, where I have been responsible for upselling products and building a rapport with customers. I enjoy the aspect of helping customers, which will also apply to supporting candidates in their career journey.
After thorough research of recruitment agencies to find a suitable internship, I quickly found that your organisation is one of the most highly respected agencies in London. This is further reaffirmed through the many awards you have received.
I am a hard-working individual, with a strong understanding and passion for sales, and a desire to constantly learn and develop my skills
How to close an internship cover letter (conclusion and sign-off)
Make sure you book-end your internship cover letter with a conclusion and sign-off. The aim of this is to state why you feel that you are the right person for the internship and to reaffirm your interest. For any employer, knowing that you are passionate about the prospect of working for the organisation is vital.
If there is anything that makes you particularly unique, you may want to put this in your conclusion. Leave them with a little taster of what’s to come and inspire them to go further by reading your CV. The conclusion is the perfect way to lead them to the CV, but you should also bear in mind that they may make selections based on just the cover letter, especially for internships.
You can also state your excitement for meeting the company to discuss your skills and interest in the role in further detail. Confidence is key here. Recruiting an experienced person is a risk, so they want to be assured that you will be no shrinking violet.
Look at the cover letter sample below for the conclusion and sign-off. It is professional and has a subtle call to action. It doesn’t just assume that the reader will take them to the next stage, but rather, that they are excited about the prospect. You can use this to adapt for your own internship cover letter.
The aim of the conclusion/sign-off: This is the final thought, reaffirming your interest and why you want to progress to the next stage.
Recruitment and selection is about making the right fit, and it requires confidence, sales ability and a passion for supporting candidates in their career journey. I believe my passion for sales, and ability to build strong relationships makes me an ideal fit for a recruitment internship. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss my credentials in more detail.
Writing psychology: how you can convey your work ethic in your cover letter
The internship cover letter should always have a clear structure, which you should follow religiously. It is slightly more personable than the CV, but it should also be professional. It is even more important to show your personality on the internship cover letter, as you are unlikely to have specific experience or at least, not much experience. When you follow a structure, it will ensure that you keep to the point and don’t end up diverting.
These are the main points to get across in the internship cover letters if you want to give yourself the best possible chance of being offered an interview:
- What skills do you have that are relevant to the role?
- Why are you specifically applying to this industry and organisation?
- What personal qualities do you have that make you an ideal fit?
- Do you have any specific industry experience?
Think about the internship from the hiring manager’s point of view. They may be sitting with a pile of prospective candidates, all studying a similar degree, so what makes you stand out from the crowd? The main aim is to show your passion for the company and the role. Employers understand candidates often apply for a barrage of internships, in the hope that they will just secure some work anywhere. This is not what they want; they want you to be passionate about the industry as they are likely to be looking at the long-term prospects of hiring you permanently in the future.
Let the hiring manager know what value you can bring to the company. Make it clear why this is the organisation you are interested in. You will receive the benefit of training during your internship, how will you use this, and will you be motivated enough to maximise the benefits of it? Use our cover letter samples throughout the guide and adapt this to suit.
Keep your language as positive as possible
With an internship, you are unlikely to have any experience, so there is the tendency for candidates to use wording like “Although I don’t have experience in sales…”
This is negative language, and it will instantly put the reader off. It is better to say, “I have a strong interest in sales, and it is an area I would like to work in.”
Always be aware of the language you are using and avoid anything that might seem negative.
Common mistakes found in an internship application letter (and how to avoid them)
As an intern, you need to show the hiring manager that you will be professional, with a desire to learn. They should leave your internship cover letter with no doubt that you will be accurate with any correspondence you send to clients. These are some of the most common mistakes found in cover letters and how you can avoid these.
- Check the spelling and grammar. Even if they are minor mistakes, spelling and grammar errors can be extremely off-putting. Employers are putting their trust in you with an internship, and they need to be sure that you have the basics to be able to deal with clients professionally. If you have failed to check your spelling and grammar, it won’t necessarily bode well for how you’d deal with professional correspondence. You can use spelling and grammar checks and maybe even ask someone else to look over it for you.
- Make sure dates are accurate. Don’t just guess the dates for your work experience and education, make sure these are accurate. If you are offered the internship, the hiring manager will assess your references first and if the dates are inaccurate, they will be concerned as to why this is the case.
- Let your personality shine. The hiring manager doesn’t have a lot to go on with your application for an internship. You may not have any relevant experience, so they are judging by your skills and personality. Therefore, your personality must shine through on your internship cover letter.
- Great formatting is a must. When you don’t have a ton of experience, a few professional touches can go a long way in convincing a hiring manager that you’re right for the role. Make sure to keep a strong balance of white space to text, limit your cover letter to one page and create an attractive header layout. A free cover letter template can help with this.
- Ensure the reader knows why you are applying for the role. Why are you interested in the role and the organisation?
- Follow a clear and concise format throughout your cover letter.
- Explain why the internship will benefit you.
If you’re looking for additional inspiration for cover letter writing, you can check out our related cover letter examples: