Top-tier ad agencies receive approximately 50 student applications for every one intern they hire. Scary, I know. Writing an “I-can't-help-but-show-my-coworkers” internship cover letter can help you go from applicant to interviewee. It's vital.
How To Write a Cover Letter for an Advertising Agency Internship
Here's a list of 10 tips from the InternshipKing advertising intern community for cover letters that will get you an internship.
One student wrapped her cover letter around a Quizno's sub and sent it to the AOR for Quizno's. Yes, she landed the internship. If you use a client’s product, tell them about it in your internship cover letter. Better yet, show them.
2) Solve a Problem
If you are applying for an internship at a small or medium-size agency, keep in mind that they'll hire you if you have the hard skills to solve specific problems. Tell them how you're going to use your SEO knowledge to increase a client's PR. Tell them how you can make high-quality, short video tutorials for a client that can increase their Facebook engagement. Tell them how you're going to use a client's Twitter handle to promote a new product. Agencies hire students who have the hard skills to solve problems.
3) Be Concise
Keep it short and simple.
4) Tell a Story
One student's internship cover letter to Google was a story about how he asked his middle school girlfriend to date him. Gutsy. The best way to tell a story is to focus on a single example and then tie that into your pitch. The point of this student's story was: “I fumbled like an idiot asking this girl to date me, but it was then that I learned: There is never a perfect way to do something, you just have to follow your heart.” A week later, Google flew him out to California for an interview.
5) Get Weird
One student wrote her entire cover letter on a shoe. With things like “I will put my sole into it,” “I will lace up the competition,” “I am not afraid to get my foot in the door.” She got the internship with MTV.
6) Use Humor
The people who read internship cover letters aren’t agency robots. They go to parties, drink beer, watch movies and tell funny stories. These HR people get so many careful, boring, safe cover letters that humor will make you stand out. As a cover letter, one student wrote a “Top Ten Reasons to Hire Me” list. It was hilarious and even cited his homecoming king victory back in high school. If you can manage to mix humor with a meaningful message, you'll win.
7) Be Results Driven
Agencies care about results and accountability. Instead of describing your passion for writing, try persuading with data. One student wrote a detailed analytics report on a digital restaurant publication she started. She reported results like: 320 registered users, 75 articles, 200 daily visits, 6.4 pageviews/visit, and more. You get the point — results matter.
8) Don’t Forget the Goal
The goal of the internship cover letter is to get someone to talk to you. That's it. Don’t focus on making something perfect if perfect isn’t what gets someone to talk to you. Be interesting. Most students get the goals mixed up – the goal isn’t to create a one-page document that records your history. You need to produce something that makes the agency HR team member say, "I can't wait to talk to this student."
9) Don’t Send a Form Letter
Ever. Unless you have a 4.0 from Harvard, your form letter is worthless to an agency's HR department. They just have too many options to choose somebody who cares this little. Shotgun approaches don't work.
10) Earn a Reputation
Go build something. Go meet somebody. The best way to land a remarkable advertising agency internship is to develop a reputation. If you have a reputation, agencies recruit you. Earn a reputation.
Originally published Mar 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM, updated February 06 2018