How To Write A Cover Letter For An Internship

The Prepped Team

5 minutes

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Thinking of your first (or next) internship should be exciting. Internships are an opportunity to gain some insight and experience into your career and once you graduate, you’ll be thankful you took the time to participate in multiple internships.  

When looking for a job or internship, the emphasis is typically on crafting the perfect resume—and rightly so. But a cover letter should not be dismissed, either. In reality, a cover letter is an opportunity to highlight your key skills, show your sparkling personality, and demonstrate how you’re uniquely qualified for the position. While that may sound like a lot to cram in one page, when done correctly, a cover letter achieves all of this and can improve your likelihood of impressing the recruiter. 

What is a cover letter? 

A cover letter is a one-page document that accompanies your resume and summarizes your qualifications for the position you are applying to. A cover letter should be concise, tailored to the specific job, and include relevant information such as skills, experience, and accomplishments.

Why do you need a cover letter for an internship? 

While applying for an internship may not have the same pressure as applying for a full-time job, landing one can be just as competitive. The valuable training and experience you gain from an internship can help jumpstart your career and lead to a dream job. A cover letter is a chance for you to show your personality and highlight the characteristics that make you an ideal candidate, therefore you should apply for an internship with the same rigour as you would any job, and that entails including a cover letter. 

When applying for an internship, a cover letter serves practical purposes, as well. It should: 

Highlight why you’re interested in the internship and are a good fit

Your resume will detail what you can do, but your cover letter can explain why this internship is so important to you. A more casual tone is appropriate in a cover letter, so here is where you can get personal. Include why you’re interested in the position and how you’re a good fit. Here, you can briefly mention a personal experience as it relates to the role – this can be academic, in nature, or more of a personal anecdote. 

Provide examples of the information you shared in your resume

If your resume includes a reference to a marketing campaign you helped develop, your cover letter is your chance to detail the strategies and outcomes of that campaign. This is where you can highlight your vital role in its ultimate success. 

Even if the internship application process doesn't specifically ask for a cover letter, it’s an extra step that can help you stand out from other applicants.

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What should an internship cover letter include? 

A cover letter should be maximum one page long. While a well-crafted cover letter should be customized for each role, it should also follow a typical format. Here are the elements to include in every cover letter:

  1. Your name and contact information belong (left-justified) at the top of the cover letter. This is where you should include an email address that you check regularly, as well as a phone number. 
  2. The hiring manager’s name, position, and contact information, followed by the salutation. If contact information isn’t in the job description, address the cover letter to the head of the department you’re applying to. Only if none of that information is available do you write “To whom it may concern.” 
  3. An introduction paragraph that identifies the internship role you’re applying for and, if appropriate, how you found out about the position. Here, you can mention any personal connection you may have to the company, as well. 
  4. A paragraph that explains your academic qualifications and training, highlighting your skills through examples. Be careful not to simply list your skills; save that for the resume. Instead, describe how you applied your skills to a situation that relates to the position you’re applying for. 
  5. A paragraph explaining why you want to work for this organization and why they should choose you. Refrain from writing “this is my dream job”, rather, explain what it would mean to you to be part of the organization. 
  6. A closing paragraph thanking them for the opportunity to apply and inviting the hiring manager to review your resume.  

How to write an effective cover letter for an internship 

When writing your cover letter, follow these steps to make your cover letter stand out: 

Research the company and the department you’re applying to 

Not only do you need to research the company, but you need to be specific about the department you’re applying to. Mentioning those details in your cover letter shows a level of understanding on your part that will help separate you from other applicants. 

Use keywords from the job posting 

While keywords are important to include in your resume,  it’s also important to apply that principle to your cover letter. Review the job description for relevant keywords, then naturally use them throughout your cover letter. An employer will see you’re a match for the job, and with what we learned about ATS, it’s important to refer to the job description whenever possible. 

Use specific examples of your experience

We’ve mentioned this already, but it’s important to reiterate. Your resume summarizes your skills and experience, but your cover letter is a chance to dive deeper into one of those areas with practical examples that validate your capabilities. Employers want to know what value you can add to their company. Getting clear with real-world examples is a great way to show off your capabilities.  

Proofread your cover letter

This is an important step you don’t want to skip. Read it over carefully more than once for typos and formatting errors. Even better, ask someone else to review it, as well. You don’t want silly mistakes costing you an internship. 

Get Prepped for that internship 

Prepped has everything you need to help you plan, prepare, and perfect your job search. Landing an internship is an integral part of getting the job you want, and Prepped has the resources to help you get there. Use our professionally designed cover letter templates, optimized to communicate to employers why you’re the perfect fit for the internship. And, before you apply, don’t forget to scan your resume using our ATS Resume Scanner . Its AI technology ensures your resume is in tiptop shape for recruiters and recruiting software. 

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