If you are applying for an internship, an employer may ask you to submit a cover letter as well as a resume. In your cover letter, you will be tasked with outlining your past experiences, academic performance, research, and other accomplishments that tell the story of who you are, and why you are the best candidate for the job.
But how do you write a cover letter for an internship? That’s a good question. Your internship cover letter may be the first cover letter you have ever written, and so you may need some guidance to help you get started.
In this guide, we’re going to break down how to write a cover letter for an internship, and also explore an example of internship cover letters you can use to help you write your own cover letter.
Tips on Writing a Cover Letter for an Internship
Cover letters are an opportunity for you to discuss what makes you a good candidate for a particular position. Unlike resumes, which are written more like a list of your skills, cover letters are structured as a letter, and allow you to highlight specific features about yourself that you can use to demonstrate why you are a good fit for a role.
Here are a few tips to help you write a cover letter for an internship:
Tip #1: Link your cover letter to the company
When you are writing your cover letter, you should try to anchor the contents of the cover letter to the specific company at which you want to work. In practice, this means that you should focus on telling a story about what you can offer them, rather than what you expect from them as an intern.
The goal of a cover letter is to help inform a company as to why you are a good fit for a position. As a result, you should personalize your letter for each position that you apply for. Why are you interested in working for the company? Does their vision resonate with you? Are they working on an interesting product you feel you would be able to add value to?
For instance, you could mention in a sentence that you read the company’s vision statement and were impressed by their commitment to a certain value. This tells an employer that you have done research into the company, which shows that you must be interested in the position.
Tip #2: Discuss coursework and extracurriculars
In a standard cover letter, you would spend time discussing what professional experience has prepared you for the position for which you are applying. However, in an internship cover letter, you may have no experience that you can talk about.
That’s a common predicament to be in, so don’t worry. Instead of talking about your professional experience, you can discuss any coursework or extracurriculars that relate to the position for which you are applying.
Suppose you are applying for an engineering internship. You may want to mention a few of the engineering and mathematics courses you have taken at college, or the fact that you are a member of your college’s auto shop club.
The extracurriculars you discuss should be relevant to the position for which you are applying, to make sure that it is clear to the employer how a certain project or activity has prepared you for the role.
When you are discussing your coursework or projects, you should provide specific examples. This will make it easier for an employer to draw a link between a project you have worked on—or a class you are taking—and the type of work that you would be doing on the job, if you were to be hired.
Tip #3: Mention your skills
Most of your cover letter should be focused on discussing your skills, experience, and educational history. Unlike a resume, though, you should not just list your experiences; you should use them to tell a story about you.
For instance, suppose you participated in a design apprenticeship after you graduated high school. You could mention that you were known well for being organized and that you were always willing to take on extra challenges in the workplace.
While you may not have any professional experience to mention, citing any skills that you have is a great way to impress an employer. Are you a good communicator? Great! Mention an example or two when you have practiced these skills. Do you believe that you work well in teams? Discuss a time when you effectively worked on a team.
Tip #4: Don’t undersell yourself
When you are writing an internship cover letter, you may be tempted to undersell yourself.
If you have little or no professional experience, it may feel like you should add in phrases like “I may not have a lot of professional experience in this field…” or “Although I lack real-world experience using this skill…”. This is often a mistake.
Instead of talking about why you are not qualified for a job, mention how you are looking to learn and that you are willing to do what it takes to advance. For instance, you could say something like “I am looking forward to the opportunity to practice my programming skills in a real-world environment.” This sentence informs the employer that you may not have a lot of experience, but that you are willing and able to learn.
Cover letters are an opportunity to sell yourself to an employer. Talk as much as you can about your strengths and how you can help a business achieve its goals, and avoid mentioning any deficiencies in your skills.
Tip #5: Explain why you, specifically, are a good fit for the role
A dozen college students with similar academic credentials to you could be applying for the same internship. Does this mean that you shouldn’t apply? Of course not. It means that the application process could be competitive, and so you should be doing as much as you can to show your value to an employer.
In your cover letter, you should add a few sentences on why you, specifically, are a good fit for the role. To help you do this, you should read over the job description and consider what requirements you meet, and how you think you can help the business.
Does the job description mention that they are looking for someone to help them with designing websites using Sketch? You could mention that you have used Sketch extensively in class. Does the job description discuss how a passion for politics is optional, but appreciated? You could then write in your cover letter that you are an avid follower of political commentary.
Internship Cover Letter Example
Now that we’ve discussed how you can write your internship cover letter, let’s explore an example to illustrate the structure of an internship cover letter.
Dear Mr. Peters,
I am writing to submit my name for consideration for the web developer internship program at NanoWeb. I believe my web development experience makes me an ideal candidate for the position.
During my two years at Coding College, I have created a number of front-end and back-end web applications that make use of best practices. For instance, earlier this semester I built a full-stack homework tracking application which is now used by students in our class to monitor their assignments. In this project, I reinforced my skills in designing wireframes, building full-stack applications, and evaluating my work.
Last summer, I was recruited by a local web development company, Johnson Web Co. During this time, I helped them design the basic structure of websites for three of their clients. I conducted an analysis of the functional requirements for each site, then helped them start to create each website. Toward the end of my experience, I was assigned as a full contributor to a web development project, where I worked with a team of three other developers to create a website.
I believe that I would be an asset to your team. This internship would give me an opportunity to both assist your business, and expand my skills in web development through working in a professional development environment.
My resume is attached to this cover letter. Thank you for your time, consideration, and for your future response.
Internship cover letters are an opportunity to outline your talent and experience, and link your core strengths to how you can help a business achieve their goals.
If you don’t have any professional experience to mention, you can discuss any projects, extracurriculars, or courses that you are currently participating in. Otherwise, you should feel free to mention any working experience you have, and discuss in your letter how you believe that experience makes you a good candidate for the internship.
By following the tips in this article, you’ll be able to craft a professional cover letter that distinguishes yourself from other candidates, and positions you as a good applicant for an internship.