How to Write a Compelling Internship Cover Letter

writing a letter

Are you interested in applying for an internship?  You need to write a strong cover letter to accompany your resume and convince the hiring managers…

A cover letter is the first thing an employer sees when considering you for an internship; that’s why a cover letter is as important as a resume- if not more. The purpose of a cover letter is to explain how your experiences, accomplishments, education and skills add value to the specific needs of the company you are applying to.

Cover letters, if written effectively, will give the hiring manager a better understanding of your skills and experience. A well-written letter can give the hiring manager a convincing reason to respond to you and can ever tip the scale in your favor if another candidate failed to write a good cover letter. So, with only one page to make your point, it is important that you get it right; you need to prove that you are the ideal candidate.

Obviously, this means, you should always include a cover letter in your application unless you are explicitly told not to by the company. We recommend writing a cover letter after you have finished and tailored your resume. Assuming you already have a resume at hand, here is a thorough guide on how to write a compelling internship cover letter.

What is the purpose of a cover letter?

First of all, a cover letter for an internship should provide answers to the following questions.

  1. Why are you a good fit for the organization?
  2. How do your qualifications match the internship?
  3. Why are you applying for the internship and why now?
  4. What is your next step in pursuing an interview for the position?

Your internship cover letter should provide answers to all these questions, to help the hiring managers understand whether your resume matches the requirements of their internship program. It gives them the opportunity to see how your skills, knowledge and education can benefit the company and how they can be incorporated into the internship and business in general.

Good cover letter vs bad cover letter

What makes the difference between a good and bad cover letter? Well, you must always remember that a cover letter should always focus on the company’s interests and not yours. You need to identify their needs and use the letter to address the solutions you can offer them.

Bad cover letters focus on your interests. For example, a poorly written letter transfers the following information:

  • I am just interested in this position.
  • I have skills from my previous employment experience.
  • I want to interview for the position.
  • Please call me ASAP.

Have you noticed the repetition of the pronoun “I” in this example? The applicant is talking about their wants and needs and why they need the employer to understand what the applicant is looking for and help them reach their personal goals.

On the other hand, a well-written cover letter conveys the following information:

  • Your skills and qualifications are a good fit for the organization.
  • I can provide solutions to your current needs.
  • I am interested in your organization's goals and am willing to work towards achieving them.
  • You are not responsible for finding available time for me; I will facilitate in the hiring process.

Key points about your cover letter

1. Specify why you're writing

In your first paragraph, you need to be upfront and explain why you are contacting the employer. If you don’t clearly specify that you are interested in the internship, they might assume you are just looking for information about the organization or that you are interested in a full-time position and when they realize you have no experience they will immediately ignore your application.

One of your first sentences should be about the position you want to be considered for, clearly indicating the department you wish to work for and the time period, followed by a brief intro about yourself, name, school year etc.

2. Mention why you want to work there

Demonstrate how much you know about the organization to impress the hiring manager. In their eyes, if you have spent time researching the company you are serious about wanting to apply for their internship program. Nowadays, almost all businesses have their own websites so make sure to check out their websites and maybe news articles about the company’s current events and practices.

Use the information gained from the research to write about the reasons you‘re applying for the internship at that particular organization. Is it about their outstanding reputation for customer support? Is it because they are the best in their field or about the awards they have won?

3. Demonstrate a strong work ethic

All employers are aware of the fact that recent graduates or current college students have no experience in the industry they are applying to; they are more interested in your work ethic and that you have a commitment to the career you’re pursuing.

Your cover letter should highlight your consistency with previous jobs- even temporary employment. This includes on campus employment or even summer jobs; they can demonstrate a strong work ethic and great ability to balance the demands of work and school.

4. Use your transferable skills

Even without real professional experience in that specific field, you can demonstrate your transferable skills from previous jobs that fulfill the requirements of an internship. Explain how you are going to use those skills acquired during part-time employment and on-campus jobs, as a potential intern.

For example, if you are applying for an internship at a newspaper, talk about your experiences writing for your university’s paper, highlighting special projects and leadership positions you may have had. If the organization uses a description of duties for the internship, make sure to include examples of how you are going to excel at those responsibilities.

5. Tailor your letter to the internship

It is crucial to create a different cover letter for every internship you apply for. The same way you would never use one resume for every job you apply for, you must do the same for cover letters, too. It is obvious when a cover letter is generic—a cover letter needs to be tailored to fit one specific company and its goals. You can have a basic structure for all your cover letters, but the content must always be unique for each internship.

How to write an internship cover letter

Typical structure of an internship cover letter

Your Name
Your Address
Your City
Your Phone Number
Your Email ID


Name of the Contact Person
His/her Position
Name of the Company
Address of the Company

Dear Ms Brown

(Try to address your cover letter to a person. If you have no specific name, you can use “Dear Hiring Manager”. Avoid using: “Dear Sir/Madame” or “To Whom it May Concern”)

First paragraph: Introduce yourself and express your interest in the position:

  • Who you are—year in school, university, major.
  • The specific job title.
  • If someone told you about the position, mention them.
  • Why you are interested in the internship program (be specific).
  • Why you are qualified (similar to a thesis statement).

Middle paragraphs: Describe a couple of experiences demonstrating specific skills and qualifications required for the internship position:

  • Show how you are a good fit with the organization.
  • Focus on what you can bring to the organization.
  • Do not repeat your resume.


  • Include your availability and how you will follow through with the application process. Let them know of the best way to reach you.
  • Thank the hiring manager for reviewing your cover letter and their consideration.


  • Write “Sincerely,” “Best Regards” and use a hand-written signature and typed name.

Sample cover letter

Here is a great example of a sample cover letter from the University of California, Davis

There is fierce competition in the job market so marketing yourself effectively with a well-written internship cover letter is crucial. Crafting a thoughtful cover letter can help you create a positive and lasting impression in the mind of the hiring manager as well as making you stand out from the crowd.

A great resume is not enough; with a good cover letter you have another opportunity to demonstrate your skills, qualifications and knowledge as well as offering a clear picture of your career goal. Also, hiring managers tend to respond faster if you show interest in them and who wouldn’t want their chances of getting a response back to be doubled?

What do you think? Is an internship cover letter as important as a resume in the application process or not? Share your thoughts below…