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20th Aug 2019 by Cam Brierley

Updated 5th Sep 2019

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

When you're applying for an internship, it's crucial to nail the cover letter as it's likely you're applying without much work experience. We take you through how to do so, breaking down each section of the cover letter and providing examples to help guide you.

When it comes to applying to jobs, candidates put so much focus upon their resume that it often feels like their cover letters are overlooked.

Sadly, this is almost always a critical mistake.

The cover letter is a personality-driven accompaniment to a resume. It provides a human touch to every application. It’s essentially your chance to make a strong first impression on the hiring manager.

That’s why it is so, so key to nail it.

In the modern work environment where more attention can be paid to finding a “cultural fit” and unearthing an employee who will get along with their colleagues, the cover letter is something every job applicant should pay significant attention to.

This is perhaps even more true when writing a cover letter for an internship. After all, it’s likely you’ll be going up against a large volume of other applicants, and it’s even more likely that they’ll all be in similar stages of their life to you. That means it’s very unlikely that any of you will have experiences (or resumes) that are vastly different (or better) than the rest!

Therefore, the cover letter is the place that you can truly stand out in by writing an exceptional document. In this guide article we’ll help you do just that, taking it step by step, along with showing you a sample cover letter for an internship.

We hope you’ll come out of this article equipped with the confidence to crush that internship application.

Now, let’s go!

What to include in your cover letters for internships:

  1. Proper formatting/salutation
  2. A professional summary
  3. The reason(s) you’re applying for the internship
  4. Why you’re the perfect candidate to choose
  5. Conclusion/sign-off

The list of what to include in a cover letter may not be as exhaustive as in a resume, but it’s no less key to spend time perfecting this. We’ll go over each of these points individually to break them down further.

Proper formatting/salutation:

The formatting of your cover letter can be essential to get right in a lot of industries, but it can also be seen as a dated formality in others. That means it’s vital to decide what approach works best for the industry you’re applying to, so we’ll break down the two approaches you can take to help you judge what suits you best.

Traditionally, you would lay out your cover letter as just that: a letter. This means dating your document and addressing it to either the company’s office or trading address, and to the specific person who is monitoring the hiring process (if you know or can find their name!)

This tradition had become less relevant as more and more industries are centralized online, but it’s still important to include in a lot of sectors.

If you’re applying for internships in any traditional industry, it’s worth including this. Lay out the company’s address at the top left of your letter just underneath a date. The gesture will not be lost on hiring managers who are looking for candidates that can be diligent with what they do.

January 1, 2019

Hiring Manager Name
Hitmarker LTD
1 Street Address
City, State
Zip / Post Code
Country

After you’ve got that down, it’s time to decide how you’re opening the cover letter. And, believe it or not, there are also some important points to consider when choosing your salutation!

The key to addressing a cover letter is to be as specific as possible. If you know the name of who will be viewing your application then let’s get straight in there with:

Dear Full Name,

Failing that, address the document to someone in the team you’d be joining in your internship.

Failing that, address the document to someone working in Human Resources; any name on your cover letter is better than not using one.

If you can’t find any name, however, then address the cover letter to:

Dear Hiring Manager,

This is always secondary to addressing it to someone in the organization though - you need to pay attention to the little things when applying for internships!

It’s worth noting that as we work in competitive gaming, a young industry, for us it’s not always necessary to address your cover letter like this. If the area you work in is suitably laid back (or primarily digital like ours) then you can opt not to include a physical address at all. In these cases, just open your cover letter with “Dear Full Name” or “Dear Hiring Manager” from above.

A professional summary:

Now that we’ve checked off the formalities it’s time to capture the hiring manager’s attention and keep it. Your professional summary is where you’ll do just that. It’s essentially a section about your professional career so far (even if you’re right at the beginning of yours!) and what qualities this has given you that makes you the perfect candidate.

If you have past work experience, then naturally you’ll be leaning heavily on it in this section. Pay particular focus to the areas of work where you have completed similar activities to what you’d do in the internship, or where you have shown skills relevant to the role you’re applying for.

But even if you don’t have work experience you can still make a fantastic professional summary. Think back to your time at school and primarily to the areas you excelled at. Using this as a building block is a great way to write a professional summary.

For example, if math was your strong point in school be sure to mention that along with any relevant points such as high grades, awards, participation in math competitions, extra curricular activities or teams, etc.

Then, you can speak about how this made you realize how much a career utilizing your talent for math would fulfill you. Finally, you can end by outlining exactly what it is about your math proficiency and other traits that combine to make you the perfect candidate for this internship.

And don’t forget to tell the hiring manager what position you are applying to, sometimes they can be hiring for multiple roles at a time so it’s always useful to make your intentions crystal clear!

Check out our example below for a real use case:

I’m writing to you in order to apply for the Business Analyst Internship with your company that I found advertised on Hitmarker.

I am a recent graduate from the University of California, Irvine with a burning desire to begin my career in esports and the unique skills to make me a great asset to your organization.

As a mathematics major with a genuine love for numbers, I’m sure I would bring an infectious enthusiasm to your office as your new Business Analyst Intern. Throughout my studies I competed in several regional and national mathematics contests, which showed me just how much I love to put my talents to work in a competitive environment.

I believe undertaking an internship of the kind you’re offering is the next natural step for me, as I see from your job description that you require someone with a deep understanding of data and statistics.

The reason(s) you’re applying for the internship:

Now it’s time to get into the meat of the cover letter - why you’re actually applying for the internship.

This is the most crucial part of the document and, hopefully, the most fun. It’s where you get to speak about what it is about the internship that appeals to you most.

This also means that it’s tough to give one-size-fits-all advice, as each of you will have a different reason of why you’re applying to a specific internship, but here are some pointers to get this section right.

Begin by speaking truthfully about why you want the internship. Is it with a company you admire? Will it teach you new skills? Or maybe hone existing ones? Does the company’s culture appeal to you? Be open and frank in what you say here - it will go a long way.

Next, you need to speak about why you have the right skills for this position. After all, the company needs someone who can carry out the internship’s tasks to a high level… so show them that’s you!

Finally, try and include something to distinguish you from other applicants.

Perhaps you noticed a recent news story about the company you’re applying to that impressed you, or maybe you have existing ideas of how to improve one of the areas mentioned in the job description for the internship. Making a note of either of these would show a hiring manager how you’ve gone above and beyond to research and understand their company!

Check out the example paragraph below of how we might expect someone to write this section for an internship with our company.

Your opportunity appeals to me greatly as not only does it give me room to utilize my affinity for data and stats to find trends in the jobs you post, but your mission is one I support. As an avid gamer myself, I admire the fact that you’ve created a centralized place to find careers in gaming and believe your website is a great asset to the industry.

What’s more, I know I’d do a great job in the position. My degree exposed me to large sets of data through educational modules and real-life work placements, so I’ll feel right at home working through your numbers.

I know I’m the right candidate because my alignment with your company’s mission means I’d treat my job with a level of care you won’t be able to find from anyone else.

Why you’re the perfect candidate to choose:

You’ve told the company why you want the internship, now it’s time to tell them why they should want you.

This is the section where you want to lean on your experience from education, your personality traits, past achievements outside of school and more. In other words, you need to use anything you possibly can to show you’ll crush the internship!

Our pro tip for this section is to look at the job description, find bullet points that are especially suited to your skills, and pick them out. After all, you can’t show your fit for a role more than by directly addressing what the job description says it will actually entail on a day-to-day basis.

Let’s say that a job description talks about using a piece of software that you used for months during an end of year project at school. Don’t just expect the hiring manager to see the small text on your resume that mentions you can use this software - tell them clearly! It will show that you already have a foundation to be taught upon, which is always a good thing.

If you don’t have as natural a fit as this to the job description, then not to worry. See if any of the responsibilities mentioned can be tied into your personality. If it’s a sales internship, then speaking about your skill with words and ability to relate to people will help you out.

In short, establishing links between your profile and what the job will require of you is the best way to approach this part of the cover letter.

Take a look at this example paragraph we wrote as if we were applying to our own company to see what we mean.

I’m so confident that I’m exactly what you need because of the skills I’ve amassed in school, some of which I’ve made a special effort to hone in my own time. As a result, I’ll be able to deliver the weekly reports you mention in the position’s description without fail.

You also mention that familiarity with MySQL is a plus, and I’m very pleased to tell you that MySQL is my playground at this point. In my final assignment at university I was part of a group project that had me using the program for two months straight. I’m equally proficient with Excel too, and have even dipped my toe into analyzing data with Python, which I would love to learn more about while interning at your company.

Conclusion/sign-off:

You’ve said what you needed to say and (hopefully) left a strong impression on the hiring manager that has left them eager to follow up with you to speak in more detail.

All that’s left now is to finish the cover letter off with a polite message.

It’s best not to get too flashy here - if that’s the style you’re going for, then you’ve already had plenty of room in the body of the letter to portray that. Instead, use a simple and respectful sign off such as:

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Then you want to sign off with a simple line such as any of the ones below.

Regards,
Kind regards,
Warm regards,
Sincerely,

Then write out your full name and pop your email address below it and you’ll have a nice ending to your cover letter.

If you want to go above and beyond in your letter, why not use a digital signing program to add a signature above your name to the document? It’s a unique, personable touch that the majority of applicants won’t do. It can be a nice way to impress the hiring manager with your thoughtfulness one final time!

Hopefully this mammoth guide has given you a good idea of how to approach the cover letter when applying for an internship. We know it’s a lot to take in, but spending the time is worth it when you’re trying to stand out from (potentially) hundreds of other people.

We’ll finish things off with an example cover letter that we might expect to receive for an internship at our company. We think it will give you a good idea of how you can structure the overall document and should give examples to the points we’ve been making.

Good luck out there!

Example Cover Letter:

January 1, 2019

Hiring Manager Name
Hitmarker LTD
1 Street Address
City, State
Zip / Post Code
Country

Dear Full Name,

I’m writing to you in order to apply for the Business Analyst Internship with your company that I found advertised on Hitmarker.

I am a recent graduate from the University of California, Irvine with a burning desire to begin my career in esports and the unique skills to make me a great asset to your organization.

As a mathematics major with a genuine love for numbers, I’m sure I would bring an infectious enthusiasm to your office as your new Business Analyst Intern. Throughout my studies I competed in several regional and national mathematics contests, which showed me just how much I love to put my talents to work in a competitive environment.

I believe undertaking an internship of the kind you’re offering is the next natural step for me, as I see from your job description that you require someone with a deep understanding of data and statistics.

Your opportunity appeals to me greatly as not only does it give me room to utilize my affinity for data and stats to find trends in the jobs you post, but your mission is one I support. As an avid gamer myself, I admire the fact that you’ve created a centralized place to find careers in gaming and believe your website is a great asset to the industry.

What’s more, I know I’d do a great job in the position. My degree exposed me to large sets of data through educational modules and real-life work placements, so I’ll feel right at home working through your numbers.

I know I’m the right candidate because my alignment with your company’s mission means I’d treat my job with a level of care you won’t be able to find from anyone else.

I’m so confident that I’m exactly what you need because of the skills I’ve amassed in school, some of which I’ve made a special effort to hone in my own time. As a result, I’ll be able to deliver the weekly reports you mention in the position’s description without fail.

You also mention that familiarity with MySQL is a plus, and I’m very pleased to tell you that MySQL is my playground at this point. In my final assignment at university I was part of a group project that had me using the program for two months straight. I’m equally proficient with Excel too, and have even dipped my toe into analyzing data with Python, which I would love to learn more about while interning at your company.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards,

Cam Brierley
cam@hitmarkerjobs.com

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Image credit: DreamHack / Hampus Andersson