In the second half of a semester, you’ll probably begin to hear your peers talking excitedly about the internships they’ll complete over the summer or the semester ahead. If you don’t have one lined up, it can feel like internships are these elusive opportunities reserved only for people lucky enough to have the right connections.
Thankfully for you, that’s not the case. Aside from completing a formal application, sometimes all it takes to land a great internship slot is a well-timed inquiry to the right person. We’ll explain how to write an email asking for an internship so you can gain valuable real-world experience that will prepare you for your first professional job.
What is an internship request email?
An internship request email is an informal way of inquiring about internship opportunities with a company you’re interested in. It may be sent regarding a formal internship that the company is advertising or to fish for information when the company doesn’t make it clear whether they have an internship program.
If you’re a prospective intern, you can send this type of email to family members, family friends, professors, college alumni, company recruiters, and contacts you’ve researched online.
Why it’s important to send an email asking for an internship
It’s true; some students are lucky enough to have family connections, making getting a great internship a piece of cake. But this isn’t the case for the vast majority of students.
Most of your peers are just like you, looking for a chance to get their foot in the door with a company they admire. An internship request email is a way to open that door, striking up a conversation with a person who may be able to help you take the first steps along your professional path.
If you do have a prior connection with someone who could be helpful in your internship search, like a professor or an employee who came to speak to your class, an internship request email can remind them who you are and potentially get you a reference. Or, if you don’t have any company connections, your email can help you identify the right person to contact about opportunities.
When should you send an internship request email
When you have your eye on a particular internship
Suppose a company actively solicits applications for a formal internship program. In that case, it means you’ll probably be up against some competition from other students for a limited number of slots. Sending a professional, personalized email to a contact inside the organization can give you an advantage over other candidates and potentially fast-track your application.
When you’re inquiring about general opportunities
Not every company has a large, structured internship program. Some companies accept interns on an ad-hoc basis if people express interest. If this is the case, a polite email gives you a great chance to learn more about the company and become an intern.
When you’ve made a connection with the recipient
Your professional network will come in handy in countless ways during your career, and the sooner you can begin building that network, the better. Reaching out to professional contacts you’ve met as a student will help you keep the line of communication open, not only about this internship opportunity but also for future correspondence.
When you’ve done your homework
You don’t have to know a contact personally to email them about internship opportunities. You need to research the company’s staff to direct your email to an appropriate recipient.
You can use LinkedIn’s search function to find employees of a specific company and browse them by job title. Look for a person with a job title, like recruiter, internship coordinator, or department head of a department you’re interested in.
What to include in an email asking for an internship
Address the recipient by name with a formal salutation. In most cases, you’ll want to use the person’s last name (i.e. ‘Dear Mr. Smith,’). The exception would be for people you’re closely connected with and are comfortable calling by their first name.
How you’re connected
If it’s someone you’ve only met once or twice, include a line or two that references how you know the person. Or, name the person who gave you their contact information.
The reason for your email
Directly state that you’re looking for internship opportunities and include the relevant details, like the time frame when you’re looking to intern.
Why you think you’d be a good candidate
Cite your specific strengths, interests and relevant experience that make you a good choice.
What you should omit
- Too much information. Keep your email brief and to the point. Two to three paragraphs are sufficient.
- A casual tone. No matter who you’re directing your email to, they’re in a senior position, so your tone should be formal.
Sample emails asking for an internship
Posted internship example
General inquiry example
If you don’t hear back after your initial email, don’t lose hope. Professionals are busy, and it’s easy for non-urgent messages to get lost in the mix. Send a follow-up message after a week. If you still don’t hear back, move on to a different contact and try again.
Persistence is the name of the game. With a polished email and some perseverance, you can line up a promising internship to build your skill set and enhance your resume.