Writing a cover letter can feel like a daunting task, particularly if you don’t have a lot of real-world experience. Fortunately, a cover letter is actually a chance to explain how your extracurriculars and classes have taught you exceptional leadership and time management skills.
To really stand out, it’s important to personalize your cover letter for each internship application you plan to submit. Your cover letter isn’t an opportunity to reiterate your whole resume, though. This is your chance to pick out a few accomplishments from the position description and dive into examples showing how you’ve exhibited these skills.
We’ve created an internship cover letter template to provide some initial structure and inspiration, but we don’t expect this template to be one-size-fits-all. Ideally, you’ll supplement our template with your own creativity and flair.
How to Write a Cover Letter for an Internship
Include your name, date, location, and contact information.
Include the company, department, and company address.
Address the hiring manager.
Set the context for your application.
Sell your experience.
Close the letter with grace and a call to action.
There are different formats you can use when writing internship cover letters, but you can’t go wrong with the traditional business letter format. Business professionals use this template style to apply for full-time roles, so your cover letter will stand out above the rest. Remember to proofread, use formal terms such as “Dear” and “Sincerely,” and lean towards a professional tone in your body copy.
1. Include your name, date, location, and contact information.
Although some companies are firmly against using applicant tracking systems, chances are many of the companies you apply to will screen your resume and cover letter using one. That means you’ll need to stand out to both an automated system and human recruiters.
Have you ever heard the myth that you’d get credit for writing your name on the SAT exam? The same applies to adding contact information to your cover letter, but it’s 100% true. Make it easy for the recruiter to get in touch with you by providing an up-to-date phone number and email address.
In the past, it was common for job and internship seekers to include their exact address on their cover letter as they’d mail them directly to the hiring managers. In today’s digital world, most hiring teams won’t need to know your exact home address to extend an internship offer, so feel free to leave it off. Simply include your city and state to give the team an idea of your proximity to the office.
Your City, State, Zip Code
2. Include the company, department, and company address.
If you’re writing a cover letter for several internship opportunities, you’ll find it helpful to search the full name, department, and headquarters address of each company. Doing this as a separate step will help you copy the information accurately in your cover letter. Remember, you don’t want any typos or mistakes in your cover letter, especially when it comes to information that can be easily found on the internet.
Finding the department name may not be as simple, so you can leave that out if you’re unsure. If your company has several campuses or operates in different cities, use the address of the location where the internship will be performed or the office location where your hiring manager works. If your internship will be remote, use the company’s general headquarters address.
City, State Zip
3. Address the hiring manager.
As a student looking for an internship, you’ll definitely set yourself apart from other applicants by being resourceful. You can show your resourcefulness by searching for the hiring manager’s name to properly address them in your cover letter. Occasionally, their title is stated in the role description. You can then search for the role on LinkedIn to identify their name. If you can’t find a name, you can instead address them by title only. Other times, though, finding the name of the hiring manager could be more difficult. If a Google search doesn’t return a first and last name, your best bet is to leave the name out. Sacrificing a bit of personalization is much better than addressing the wrong person in your cover letter.
Dear X, (try to find the hiring manager’s name… if you can’t, you can put “Dear [Company A] Hiring Committee”)
4. Set the context for your application.
In the first paragraph, explain how you heard about the company or position, and if you know anyone at the company, mention them here. Next, express your own interest in the company or position and explain briefly how it relates to your own passions. Don’t forget to introduce yourself in this paragraph, writing your name, your education level, your major, and your interests.
You may opt for a creative first line to capture the reader’s attention. One that worked for me early in my career went something like this:
“Can I tell you a secret? I’ve been telling stories since I was five years old. No, not fibbing — real storytelling...”
This is where you’ll benefit from researching the company’s culture. While this opening statement worked well for startups and more laid-back companies, a big accounting firm might find it culturally off-beat.
5. Sell your experience.
Scan the internship position description and pick out a few qualities you think apply to you — just don’t choose all the descriptors mentioned as it could appear disingenuous and make your cover letter too long. For instance, if I see a company is looking for someone who’s “outgoing, organized, hardworking, and willing to take criticism,” I would pick those that describe me best and focus on providing examples in the body of my cover letter.
Mentioning the traits directly in your cover letter shows you’ve read the position description, and makes your cover letter more scannable. If the hiring manager is looking for someone with content skills, she might scan your cover letter looking for the words that indicate experience with content.
Finally, brainstorm a few compelling examples to show how you embody the most important characteristics. Don’t just write, “I have excellent customer service skills.” You want to prove it. Support your claim by writing something like,
“Last summer, I worked as an orientation leader at my college, serving as a resource for incoming students and their parents. This experience strengthened my customer service skills.”
Even if you don't have a lot of (or any) job experience, think about highlighting skills you've gained from extracurriculars, volunteer experience, or even passion projects:
“My passion for dance led me to become a volunteer dance teacher which helped me develop as a leader.”
6. Close the letter with grace and a call to action.
If the internship application does not explicitly state “please do not contact,” you might choose to conclude by specifying how you will follow up, such as, “I will call next week to see if my qualifications are a match,” or, “I am eager to meet with you to discuss this opportunity, and am available for an interview at a mutually convenient time.” Conclude by thanking the hiring manager for taking the time to consider you, and end on a positive, confident note, such as, “I look forward to speaking with you soon.”
You may even go a step further and give the hiring manager a call to action. Include a link to your online portfolio, a website, or even a YouTube channel where you display your work and personality. To see how often hiring managers are viewing these additional items, include tracking to your link using a URL tracker like Bitly to capture that data.
At the suggestion of John Smith, a senior marketer at Company A, I am submitting my resume for the Event Coordinator internship position. I am a junior at Elon University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Sport and Event Management, and am passionate about event planning. I am thrilled to hear about Company A’s Event Coordinator internship program and feel my experiences and skills would be an excellent match for your organization.
As an executive member of the Student Union Board at Elon, I am in charge of organizing, promoting, and implementing multiple school-related social activities per week, while being challenged to design new events. I work cohesively with a diverse team made up of students and faculty, and I also foster relationships with novelty companies.
My experience as an Orientation Leader has further prepared me for this internship. It was essential that I remain positive, outgoing, and energized during move-in day and act as a liaison between new students, families, and faculty in a fast-paced and demanding environment. I was expected to maintain a highly professional customer service ethic while interacting with families and new students.
My Elon University experiences, executive board membership, and orientation leadership role have prepared me to be successful in the Event Coordinator internship program. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss how I can add value to Company A.
Marketing Internship Cover Letter Template
1 Hireme Road
Boston, MA, 20813
May 20, 2021
Marketing Department — Internship Program
35 Recruiting St.
Boston, MA, 29174
Dear Internship Coordinator,
I am a passionate, creative, and driven Elon University student with leadership and event planning experience, as well as strong communication skills. I am seeking opportunities to showcase my writing abilities in a challenging and stimulating environment. My skills and experiences will enable me to deliver successful results as a digital marketing intern for Company B.
Please allow me to highlight my key skills:
Prior experience writing blog posts and press releases for marketing objectives
Strong communication skills and ability to adopt voice for diverse audiences and varying purposes
Efficient in managing multiple projects with fast-moving deadlines through organization and time-management skills
A firm understanding of grammar rules and how to write effectively
Experience in leadership positions, both as Student Union Board executive leader and as an Elon Orientation Leader
Proven ability to form positive relationships with people from around the globe, exhibited by my internship experience in China last summer
Experience organizing, promoting, and implementing social events
Proficient in Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, and Premiere), and social media platforms
In closing, I look forward to the opportunity to discuss how I can be an asset to Company B. I will call next week to see if you agree that my qualifications are a match for the position. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Internship Cover Letter Templates
Standard Internship Cover Letter Template
Use this cover letter template as a foundation for your cover letter. You can customize it to fit your experience and the companies you’ll be applying to.
If your major is data-driven like STEM, marketing, or accounting, this is the internship cover letter template for you. With this template, you can include the data highlights of your class projects and assignments to show the hiring manager that you can support your experience with credible facts.
As you approach your senior year of college, you may be looking for entry-level roles rather than internships. Cover letters are just as important for full-time roles as they are for internships, so use this template to make the transition in your job search.
A resume isn’t always enough to make an impression. Including a cover letter in your internship application is the first step to setting yourself apart from other applicants. Study and apply the six steps for writing a professional internship cover letter and use one of these samples or templates to customize it. Your resume gives the highlights of your time in college while your cover letter tells the story of how those experiences will serve you as an intern with your future employer. Use it to your advantage to land the first role in your career as you navigate college and beyond.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in April 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Jun 1, 2021 6:00:00 AM, updated June 01 2021