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So you’re ready to finally apply to that great company you’ve been eyeing for a while now. Good for you! Isn’t that what we all go to college for? Now, all you have to do is get your foot in the door… How, you ask?
With a well-written resume + cover letter combo, of course! I mean, come one, you’ve already done all of the real work, what with those all-nighters you pulled to ace those finals. Now all you have left to do is jot all that down for the world to see.
But HOW? You ask.
I get it, you’ve never done this before. But don’t worry, because I know all there is to know about applying for a job, and I’m here to give you a hand.
Let’s do this together!
A good cover letter is the perfect complement to your resume, in that your resume is more of a list — of educational institutions you’ve attended and skills and experience and you possess — and your cover letter tells the recruiter more about who you are personally.
On a side note, if you have yet to write your resume, check out my guide on how to write a quality resume here… and then come right back for the icing on the job search cake that is your cover letter 😄
But on to the cover letter — what elements make up a good internship cover letter, and in what order?
💡 Tip 1
Tailor your cover letter to the job offer
This might seem like a no-brainer to some, but you’d be surprised how many cover letters leave recruiters scratching their heads over why this person is applying for this particular job in the first place.
Everything you need to know to sell yourself as the right candidate should be in the job offer.
Start by scanning the job offer for keywords and then highlight the relevant qualities/skills/knowledge you possess that correspond to those keywords — you can even use some of the same keywords in your cover letter, though you have to make sure you don’t overdo it and come off as insincere.
💡 Tip 2
Use the same font and formatting as you did for your resume
The human brain has a natural affinity for things that are neat and symmetrical, and not only when it comes to faces we deem attractive.
Take advantage of this by using the same font and formatting as you did on your resume.
If you need more help figuring out which font to use or in general how to format your cover letter, check out my complete guide on how to format a cover letter properly here.
💡 Tip 3
It will be hard for a recruiter to get excited about your candidacy if you yourself sound like you could really go either way on whether you get hired or not.
Make sure to use strong, decided vocabulary to drive your points home and avoid bland words such as “nice”.
💡 Tip 4
Write a different cover letter for each company you apply at
Nothing is more of a turn-off than getting the exact same gift as everyone else. Or, in the case of a recruiter, realizing every business around got the exact same cover letter as they did, including the local department store, every burger joint in the neighborhood and that shady moneylender on the corner.
On a more serious note, however, there’s not a recruiter alive who will take an obviously copy-paste, one-size-fits-all cover letter seriously. Tailor your cover letters, it pays off.
💡 Tip 5
Remember this is not about you
You are applying for an internship. The company you are applying at is likely well-established on the market and has tens of internship candidates to choose from.
This is not to depress you, but just to remind you that the gist of your cover letter should be that you are going to benefit the company, bonus points if you can say how you plan to do so.
This job is an opportunity for you, sure.
But don’t just drone on about how much YOU WANTSSS IT like Gollum. Sorry to break it to you, but for now, your demands need to take a backseat.
If the internship goes well and the company decides to offer you a full time position, then you will have some realistic bargaining power.
💡 Tip 6
Mention relevant extracurricular activities
Seeing as how you are applying for an internship, chances are you have not had a job before, at least not a full-time one. That’s why, when it comes to experience, you can use whatever you can get 😄
Of course, this does not mean bringing up that you did track in middle school, but if you’ve organized, say, events at your college, I think you can see how that could be relevant if you are applying for any internship requiring good organizational skills.
💡 Tip 7
Don’t sell yourself short!
A common mistake made in internship cover letters is that the candidates tend to automatically be on the defensive…some even apologize for not having any experience!
The recruiter knows you have never had a job — they read your darn resume, after all.
No need to rub it in. Sentences like, “Even though my practical knowledge is still limited…” are a huge turn-off.
How is anyone supposed to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself?
💡 Tip 8
Run a spell check
So you’ve never had a job before — that can’t be helped. You know what can be helped, though? Sending in a cover letter riddled with typos. So no matter what word processor you are using to write your cover letter, run a spell check.
Without further ado, here is a sample internship cover letter that covers all of the points we’ve just talked about, so you can see how all of this actually looks in practice:
Dear Mr. Johnson, I am submitting my resume for consideration for the summer application design internship program at ABC. I have been a user and a fan of your products for almost a decade, and I was thrilled to see you were hiring this year. Given the skills and experience detailed in my enclosed resume, I am certain I would make a great asset to your team. In my three years at Ohio State University, I completed a great deal of coursework on cutting-edge design trends and best practices, including Principles of User Experience Design and Mobile Application Design, where I learned and applied skills such as user journey mapping, application wireframing and designing software for a variety of mobile devices and operating systems. In addition, I spent the past semester volunteering my time with a local non-profit that collects second hand electronics, especially computers, smartphones and tablets, and redistributes it to families in need so the children of these families can familiarize themselves with current technologies and avoid falling behind with their education. I believe I would bring enormous creativity and enthusiasm for your brand to your team. This internship would also help me gain real-world experience in the technology industry and help me further develop and refine my application design skills. I look forward to hearing from you! Sincerely, Jaqueline Derry P.S. I would love the chance to show you how I helped increase my project team member engagement and tell you about how I would do the same for you!
That’s not so bad, right? 😄
I think you are ready to write your own now! So get going, and good luck!
And when you get invited in for that coveted interview, come right back so we can prep for it together 😄