How to Write an Internship Cover Letter

Applying for an internship is a lot like applying for a job. One way the process is similar is that you’ll likely be asked to submit an internship cover letter as part of your application. 

Read on to learn the purpose of an internship cover letter and what to include in it for the best chance of being selected for the program. 

What is an internship cover letter?

A cover letter is a document that’s most commonly associated with job searching. It tells the reader more about you and conveys why you should be selected for the position. 

An internship cover letter serves the same purpose, but instead of referencing a job you want, you’ll be talking about becoming an intern. It’s usually the first thing an internship coordinator reads when reviewing applications, so it’s your chance to make a strong first impression. 

A cover letter includes information about you, like your educational path and background, a summary of your skills and qualifications, and any additional details that make you a strong candidate.

Your goal with writing an internship cover letter is to position yourself as a good choice for the program and entice the intern coordinator to want to read the rest of your application materials. 

Why it’s important to send a cover letter when applying for an internship

Provide information not in your resume

A cover letter complements your resume. This is an important distinction; it shouldn’t merely be a recap of the information that’s already presented there. Rather, it supports your candidacy in different ways, providing specific examples of why you’d be a strong fit.

Distinguish yourself from other applicants

Since a cover letter is less rigid than a resume, it’s a chance to show the reader a bit of your personality. Use it to convey what makes you unique. For example, you can share background about why you’re pursuing your chosen career path or give a quick anecdote that demonstrates your strong work ethic. 

Convey your commitment

A cover letter is a professional document, but it’s written in your voice. This allows you to convey your passion, commitment, and enthusiasm in a way that a resume or application alone can’t. These are important qualities that internship coordinators look for when selecting who to accept into their program. 

When should you send an internship cover letter

An internship cover letter should be sent alongside the rest of your application materials. The file format and delivery method you use may vary depending on the application instructions. 

If you’re submitting an application by email, you can attach your resume and cover letter to the email as separate PDF documents. Alternatively, you may paste your cover letter into the body of the email and attach only your resume.

If the program uses an online application form, you’ll need to either attach your cover letter in a format like PDF or RTF or paste it into a text entry box. Pay attention to specific instructions within the application, as these are important to follow to avoid being disqualified. 

What to include in an internship cover letter:

Introduction

Begin by stating your name, the internship you’re applying for, and how you heard about it.

Why you’re interested in the internship

Explain why you’re pursuing this particular program. You might discuss your career ambitions, the curriculum you’re most interested in, or your admiration for the company.

Your relevant skills

What makes you qualified to succeed in this internship? Take another look at the internship description for clues on what they’re looking for here, like independent problem-solving or organizational skills.

Call out specific experiences or accomplishments

Specific, personal details and anecdotes are an important way to distinguish your cover letter from your resume.

A professional closing

Thank them for the opportunity and use a warm, professional sign-off.

What to omit

A rehash of your resume. Avoid simply paraphrasing what’s already in your resume. This is a common mistake among inexperienced candidates.

Sample Internship Cover letter

Ms. Cooper, 

My name is James Hendry, and I’m excited to apply for IBM’s software engineering internship. I learned about the program through the career resource center at SUNY, where I’m a third-year student. My goal is to become a developer in the gaming industry, which is expected to see explosive growth in the next few years. 

During my SUNY career, I’ve completed programming, databases, and complex coding coursework, consistently ranking in the top 10 percent of my class. This fall, I was part of a three-person team that developed an innovative studying app that helps students keep track of the materials they’ve covered before a test. Our app took second place in a statewide development competition. 

I’m an independent worker and can work effectively on a team. If selected as an intern, I’d bring drive, creativity, and a strong work ethic that I think would make me an asset to the program. Learning from professionals at such a distinguished company would be an honor. 

Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely

James Hendry

Review your cover letter carefully for typos and grammatical errors. Ask a friend or guidance counselor to look it over, too, to ensure it’s perfect before you send it off.