When applying for an internship, employers might request a cover letter along with your resume, references and other required documents. A cover letter is one of the best ways to convey why you are the best candidate for the internship, allowing you to expand on and showcase key skills and experiences.
Here are several tips and examples to help you craft a cover letter for internship applications. For more inspiration, browse cover letter samples to get an idea of what cover letters might look like for your industry or position.
How to write a cover letter for an internship
A well-written cover letter should highlight relevant skills and experiences that make you the best fit for the role. It should also capture the employer’s attention, convincing them to further review your resume. To meet these goals, it’s important to include a few key pieces of information:
1. State the exact role you’re applying for
Starting your cover letter with the position you’re applying for shows you’ve thoughtfully considered what makes you the best candidate for this specific position. It also implies that you’ve created a cover letter for their opening instead of using one general cover letter for all applications. It also reminds the audience about the position and provides context for the rest of your letter.
2. Use the right keywords
Employers often scan resumes and cover letters for keywords related to the role. Carefully review the job description and company website for clues on which you should include. For example, if the job description lists “time management” as a desired quality, try listing relevant examples in your cover letter.
3. Include relevant coursework
If you have little to no job experience, your relevant coursework can be helpful for employers. Include your completed courses relevant to the job description or industry. For example, if applying for a design internship, be sure to list your design courses and any significant related accomplishments.
4. Call out relevant skills
The body of your cover letter is where you can highlight relevant knowledge, expertise and education that will benefit the employer. Even if you don’t have professional industry experience, you can include skills you’ve gained in previous jobs, volunteer positions, classes or projects you’ve completed, or achievements in extracurricular activities.
For example, if you’re applying for a position as a reporting intern at a local publication, you could discuss your role as editor for the student paper or how your previous job as an office receptionist taught you the importance of time management.
5. Explain why you’re a good fit for the role
You should include a one or two sentences relating your qualifications to the internship. Carefully review the posted job description to understand which skills and experiences the employer is looking for. Align those with your own and decide which to prioritize in your cover letter based on the posting.
6. Describe what you feel you would gain from the internship
In most cases, employers have built an internship program to help students and young professionals better understand the industry and develop skills, experiences and relationships that will serve them throughout their career. In addition to explaining what you’ll bring to the table, highlight what you hope to achieve and learn through the internship.
7. Review your cover letter before sending
When your cover letter is complete, set aside time to review and edit. When proofreading, check carefully for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. If possible, ask trusted friends or family members to review your final draft for a third-party perspective.
How should I send a cover letter?
Unless you’re hand-delivering your resume and cover letter, you’ll likely be sending your cover letter digitally. Sometimes employers will require you to attach your cover letter file as part of the application. In other cases, they’ll ask you to email your cover letter along with your resume.
There are two ways you can do this:
Attach your cover letter to the email. If an employer asks you to attach your internship cover letter, you can select the file from your computer and attach it to your email. Be sure the file name includes your name. For example, Erica-Garcia-Cover-Letter.doc instead of something generic and difficult to search for, like coverletter2.doc.
Paste your cover letter in the body of the email. If the employer doesn’t specifically request the cover letter as an attachment, you might paste it directly into the body of the email. Just be sure to update the greeting to the name of the person you’re emailing (if you know it).
Sample Internship Cover Letter
Dear Mr. Smith, I am submitting my resume for consideration for the summer application design internship program at ABC Company. Given the skills and experience outlined in my enclosed resume, I believe I will be a worthy asset to your team. In my three years at XYZ College, I’ve completed a great deal of coursework on cutting-edge design trends and best practices, including Principles of User Experience Design and Mobile Application Design, where I learned and applied skills such as user journey mapping, application wireframing and designing software for a variety of mobile devices and operating systems. In addition, I spent the past semester volunteering my time with a local non-profit that collects donated clothes and furniture and redistributes it to families in need. I helped the web team update and re-launch an application that allows people in the community to locate nearby drop-off points and schedule pick-ups. Finally, my two years working as a barista at the student center has taught me the importance of building a convenient and memorable consumer experience that aligns with the brand. It also helped me grow my skills in team collaboration, verbal communication and project leadership. I believe I would make an excellent addition to your team. This internship would help me grow my real-world experience in the technology industry and help me further develop and refine my application design skills. I look forward to hearing from you! Sincerely, Rirhandzu Mahlangu