How to Write an Internship Cover Letter [Expert Advice & Examples]

How to Write an Internship Cover Letter [Expert Advice & Examples]

It’s been a few years since I applied for my first internship, but I still remember the difficulties I encountered. After I finally crafted an eye-catching resume, I faced the daunting prospect of creating an internship cover letter for every application; I honestly didn’t know what to include or the tone I should strike.

college student looking at an example cover letter on her mobile device

Although I got the internship, in the end, I never found out whether my academic achievements, experience, or well-crafted cover letter got my foot in the door. However, I’ve always been curious.

With the benefit of hindsight — and some guidance from cover letter experts and hiring professionals — I’m here to help you write a winning internship cover letter. Let’s dive in.

→ Click here to access 5 free cover letter templates [Free Download]

Table of Contents

I’ve seen some creatively designed cover letters, but in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with the traditional business letter format, which you’ll find in our free cover letter templates.

template-4

Download our cover letter templates …

Business professionals use this format style to apply for full-time roles and other purposes, so it’s something you can reuse in the future.

Remember to use formal terms such as “Dear” and “Sincerely,” and lean towards a professional tone in your body copy. Even if you know the recruiter personally, always use formal salutations instead of “Hey!” or Hi [name].

1. Include your name, date, location, and contact information.

Ensure you provide your contact information, such as your phone number, email, and location, on your internship cover letter.

Since you’ll probably be sending your cover letter online (through an email or web form), you don’t need to provide your full home address — your city and state should be enough for most positions.

Your Name

Your Address

Your City, State, Zip Code

Cell: 555-555-5555

Email: [email protected]

Date

2. Include the company name, department, and address.

With your personal information out of the way, it’s time to showcase your research skills a little. Do an internet search to find the full name and address of the company you’re applying to. Try to dig deep to find the department name, but leave it out if you’re unsure.

If the internship will be remote, use the company’s general headquarters address if the internship will be remote.

Department

Company

Street

City, State Zip

3. Address the hiring manager.

Tempted to type “To whom it may concern” or “Dear hiring manager”? In your hunt for an internship position, you’ll stand out from the crowd by being resourceful. So, channel your inner sleuth by tracking down the hiring manager’s name.

You might find their role description on the company website, but if not, your best bet is to look through LinkedIn.

If you can’t find the hiring manager’s name, or you’re unsure if you’re addressing the right person, leave the name out. I think it’s safe to say that sacrificing a bit of personalization is much better than addressing the wrong person in your cover letter.

4. Set the context for your application.

The first paragraph can make or break your internship cover letter and your entire application.

I’ll admit: I’ve always found opening paragraphs tricky, whether they’re for a cover letter, regular email, or a blog post, but they’re essential for creating a strong first impression and engaging the reader.

First, explain how you found out about the company or position. If you know anyone at the company, you can mention them here. Next, express your interest in the company and how it relates to your goals and passions. Also, make sure you get your basic information down, like your name, education level, major, and interests.

Depending on the company and position, you could try a creative approach to get your reader’s attention. Here’s one that worked for me early in my career:

“Can I tell you a secret? I’ve been telling stories since I was five years old. No, not fibbing — real storytelling …”

A word of warning, though: Be sure to research the company’s culture before taking an approach like this. While this opening statement worked well for startups and more laid-back companies, a big accounting firm might find it culturally off-beat.

Pro tip: Geoffrey Scott, hiring manager and certified professional resume writer at Resume Genius, says, “The cover letters that stand out to me are ones where the candidate’s excitement clearly comes through. Of course, the tone must stay professional, but it shouldn’t be dull. When you’re passionate about what you do, it comes through in your cover letter.”

5. Sell your experience and personalize your cover letter.

Your cover letter isn’t supposed to be a summary of your resume, so go deeper and personalize it for your internship application.

To start, read through the specific position’s description and pick out a few qualities that you think apply to you. I don’t recommend choosing all the descriptors mentioned, as it could appear disingenuous and make your cover letter too long.

For instance, if I see a company looking for someone who’s “outgoing, organized, hardworking, and willing to take criticism,” I would pick the qualities that best describe me and focus on providing examples in the body of my cover letter.

You should cover things like:

  • Relevant coursework.
  • Soft skills (e.g., teamwork, problem-solving).
  • Extracurricular activities (e.g., volunteering).
  • Work experience (if any).

That said, make sure you tie them to the internship opportunity. For example, you could say, “I understand that this role requires that I consistently meet deadlines. I held down a part-time job while keeping up with my college assignments, which demonstrates my time management skills.”

Pro tip: If you lack relevant experience, use your research and knowledge to show enthusiasm. Daniel Space, a human resources business partner who has worked with companies like Spotify and WebMD, told me he once hired a French major instead of an HR major for an HR internship.

Why? He explains, “Not only did she clearly articulate how she understood the role … she also spent a few sentences describing the company going through a merger and correctly assuming that her work would be in helping with that.”

6. Think about your cover letter’s readers (humans and machines).

According to Jobscan’s research, 487 out of 500 Fortune 500 companies (97.4%) used an Applicant Tracking System in 2023. If you’re not familiar, this is a tool used to streamline hiring tasks.

Why do they matter for internship cover letters? Well, companies use these systems to filter resumes and cover letters based on keywords.

Ben Lamarche, general manager at recruiting firm Lock Search Group, told me that his company screens internship applications using an application tracking system.

When I asked how applicants could get their cover letters seen by a human, he recommended “avoiding excessive formatting, sticking to a basic text layout, and including a few important words from the internship description, such as the precise requirements for skills and knowledge.”

Pro tip: Wondering how long your internship cover letter should be? I recommend you limit it to under a page or around 250 to 400 words. Also, use shorter paragraphs to break up the text.

Here’s what Indrė Padegimienė, talent acquisition specialist at Omnisend, has to say on the matter: “Recruiters are pretty busy people with hundreds of applications to review, so clear and concise communication is key. A five-page cover letter won’t get you a job.”

7. 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.”

In your closing paragraph, thank 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.”

Pro tip: You may even go a step further and give the hiring manager a call to action. I don’t think it hurts to include a link to your online portfolio, website, or even a YouTube channel where you display your work and personality.

To see how often hiring managers follow through on your calls to action, track the number of clicks on your link using a URL tracker like Bitly.

8. Proofread, proofread, and proofread.

When I asked Scott (Resume Genius) about the cover letter pitfalls he encounters the most, applicants’ lack of proofreading stood out.

After describing the cover letter mistake of simply summarizing what’s in your resume, he shared, “Another common error that could end up costing you a position is having spelling and grammar mistakes, especially if the internship is for anything that requires close attention to detail, like data entry. This seems obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how often I see it.”

Even with the availability of spell-checking tools like Grammarly, internship applicants still submit cover letters riddled with typos. Let me put it this way: You’ve done the hard part of actually writing your internship cover letter, so don’t let small mistakes put employers off.

Pro tip: Some companies provide AI cover letter generators. You simply input your resume and the job description, and you should get a decent-looking cover letter in seconds.

Just remember that while AI generators can save you time, you should check over everything they produce to ensure the AI hasn’t told any tall tales about your hands-on experience or skill set or made any mistakes. As you’ll see in these ChatGPT-generated internship email examples, caution and revisions are advised.

If you’re still unsure after your check-up, get a friend or classmate to proofread your cover letter for clarity and spelling before you finally sign off on it and hit send.

Writing My Own Internship Cover Letter

Now, I’ll use the tips I gave you above to craft an internship cover letter. In this sample, I will be applying for an event planning position. I start by including my contact information. That includes an address, phone number, and email address.

I also included the recipient’s contact information including the department I’m applying for.

internship cover letter header

I start with a greeting and the hiring manager’s name. If you can find a direct contact, referring to the person by name is preferred. From there, I mention that I am a referral and mention my contact at the company. I can then introduce myself and discuss relevant school experience relating to the role.

internship cover letter header

In the next section, I refer to relevant professional experiences. While these may not apply to an event role in corporate, I mention club work that I’ve done that relates to the role. I also reference an orientation job I held at the university that matches the events skillset.

internship cover letter body

From there, it’s time to wrap up with a conclusion. I also used Preview’s signature function on my Mac to include a handwritten signature followed by a typed version of my name.

internship cover letter conclusion

Now, let’s explore some other cover letter examples for inspiration.

Internship Cover Letter Examples

To inspire you further, I’ve curated additional internship cover letter examples tailored to different industries and positions. I’ll also explain why each example works and what you can do to evoke a similar response.

1. Hospitality Internship Cover Letter

Hospitality Internship Cover Letter Example

Why This Cover Letter Example Works

I like that this cover letter demonstrates the applicant’s passion, willingness to learn, and previous industry experience. If I were the hiring manager, I’d shortlist them based on their internship cover letter.

How to Incorporate That Into Your Internship Cover Letter

I recommend you start by analyzing your own transferable skills and experience and seeing how they relate to the internship you’re applying for.

Do you have any examples, facts, or figures that you can include in your letter? This will help the hiring manager understand your interest in the position and give them more of a reason to hire you over the competition.

I often see applicants use statements like, “I helped increase my group’s scores by [X]%.” If you have any figures like this, use them, but be honest about the role you played.

2. Supply Chain Internship Cover Letter

This supply chain cover letter showcases the applicant’s relevant skills.

Why This Cover Letter Example Works

I could easily tell that, like many internship applicants, this student had yet to gain professional experience in the field. However, the applicant does a great job of showing enthusiasm for taking on real-world experiences.

They also demonstrate their knowledge of three areas of supply chain management: forecasting, inventory management, and logistics.

How to Incorporate That Into Your Internship Cover Letter

Go through your course notes and write down a list of topics and terms relevant to the internship you’re applying for. After I’ve completed coursework, I sometimes need to remind myself of what I’ve covered.

3. Fashion Design Internship Cover Letter

This cover letter wouldn’t look out of place in a job application.

Why This Cover Letter Example Works

The student wrote a great second paragraph discussing their experience participating in design projects with original pieces that show their “artistic vision.” I also like that the student highlights how their design philosophy aligns well with Sleeves and Thread’s commitment to “pushing boundaries.”

How to Incorporate That Into Your Internship Cover Letter

Do your research on the company you’re applying to. You can compliment them on awards they have won or mention how you would fit well within their company culture.

4. Finance Internship Cover Letter

Rebecca’s technical skills are highlighted in this internship cover letter.

Why This Cover Letter Example Works

Rebecca takes the time to highlight her skillset, but she also balances her cover letter with reasons why Banking Corporation will be a great fit for her career. She gives plenty of reasons why the company appeals to her, which helps balance the cover letter.

How to Incorporate That Into Your Internship Cover Letter

Don’t be afraid to explain what an internship will do for you. Yes, companies want to know how an intern can help them, but they know you’re mainly there to advance your career.

5. Marketing Internship Cover LetterMarketing Internship Cover Letter

Why This Cover Letter Example Works

If you work in marketing or another creative industry, you’ll have more freedom when it comes to drafting your cover letter. Here, Robin takes a novel approach by weaving in colorful language that practically jumps off the page. With just enough pizazz, their personality shines through. I think any marketing hiring manager would be eager to learn more.

How to Incorporate That Into Your Internship Cover Letter

Let your creative side run free! On a blank page (a creative’s nightmare, I know!), type out plenty of eye-catching phrases and sentences to showcase your writing skills. Next, see if you can find the right places to add them to your internship cover letter.

Internship Cover Letter Templates

If, instead of examples, you’d like a jump-off point, don’t worry — I’ve got you covered. Here are some internship cover letter templates to get your creative juices flowing.

Standard Internship Cover Letter Template

A standard internship cover letter to help you get started.

This highly customizable internship cover letter is generic but can serve as the foundation for all your applications.

Data-Driven Internship Cover Letter Template

Showcase your top stats with this cover letter template.

If your major is data-driven, like STEM, marketing, or accounting, I think 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.

Entry-Level Cover Letter Template

Use this cover letter for an entry-level job posting.

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.

Wrapping Up Your Internship Cover Letter

Worried about not having enough experience or skills to get your preferred internship? Don’t stress over what you haven’t achieved yet — and remember, everyone starts somewhere.

Instead, take stock of your academic and extracurricular achievements and see how you can apply your skills and experience to an internship.

Then, you’re ready to craft a compelling cover letter that shows you’re competent, enthusiastic, and willing to go the extra mile for every position you apply for. Whether you get your preferred internship or not, you’ll be happy that you gave it your best shot.

Professional Cover Letter Templates


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