How to Write Amazing Cover Letters for Summer Internships

 

It’s that time of year when Spring Break is just around the corner. But you know what else is also just around the corner? Deadlines for summer internship applications! If you’re not on top of it now, you better get moving, but don’t worry--we’ve got you covered with this guide to writing a grade-A cover letter.

Step One: Review the job posting

Ex. Trendsetting Magazine is looking for a summer intern! We’re seeking an enthusiastic self-starter who can juggle multiple responsibilities and work collaboratively. Strong verbal and written communication skills are a must. Social media experience is a plus, but it is not required.

Your task here is to pick out what specifically the company is looking for in an applicant. I find it helpful to turn the posting into a bullet point list.

  • Enthusiastic

  • Self-starter

  • “Juggle multiple responsibilities” = multi-tasker

  • “Work collaboratively” = teamwork

  • Strong verbal and written communication skills

  • Social media experience

What if the position doesn’t give you much to go on? I’ve had positions give hardly any more information than, “Submit your cover letter and resume to this email address.” If that’s the case, I recommend two strategies.

First, poke around the company website some (you should do this anyway) and see if you can find either a mission statement or a values statement. Either one will give you something company-specific to work off of. If you come up empty, then try looking at internship positions with similar companies. See what types of skills they tend to seek. For instance, “Trendsetting Magazine” probably wants somebody with strong writing skills, and you could figure that out even if you didn’t have a job posting telling you what they’re looking for.

Step Two: Connect yourself to what they’re looking for

This is the point where it’s really handy to have a resume already prepared. Take a look at your experiences and see how you can frame them to fit what the company is seeking.

  • Officer in Student Organization: teamwork, social media experience, multitasking

  • Library Work Study Job: communication skills, teamwork

  • Personal Blog: self-starter, enthusiastic, communication skills, social media

Your explanations of these connections will form the main body paragraph of your cover letter. However, before you jump into that, it’s important to narrow everything down to a thesis: an argument for why they should be hiring you. The easiest way to do this is to say something like, “I am a strong fit for this position given X, Y, and Z.” Then fill in “X, Y, and Z” with things they’re looking for and that you can easily back up when you connect them to your experiences.

Ex. I am a strong fit for this position due to my strong communication skills, experience with teamwork, and familiarity with social media.

Step Three: Write your introduction

The very first sentence should tell the reader two things: what position you are applying for and how you found the position.

Ex. I was so excited when I read about Trendsetting Magazine’s summer internship on my school’s hiring site.

From there, you should tell them why you want to work specifically for them. What is so special about their company? The internet is a huge help here. Head over to their website and see if you can find something that appeals to you.

Ex. I admire Trendsetting Magazine’s unique and thought-provoking articles, such as last month’s feature of a feminist tattoo shop.

If the job posting asks you to include any specific information, it’d be a good idea to do so here. Alternatively, you could leave it to the end.

Finally, end your first paragraph with your thesis.

Step Four: Write your body paragraph

This part can be really intimidating. Luckily, you’ve already come up with all the information you need to write a successful body paragraph. Just head back to Step Two and see what you came up with. Then go through each experience, highlighting how it connects to what the company is looking for. Be sure not to just repeat information from your resume!

Ex. As an officer in Student Organization, I worked alongside the other executives* to plan events, recruit new members, and keep the student body engaged and enthusiastic.** As one of only three executive officers, I had to handle many different responsibilities***, including updating Student Organization’s social media to promote our events.****

*“Worked alongside the other executives” = teamwork

**You’re signalling that you have enthusiasm, a trait they’re looking for

***”Handle many different responsibilities” = multitasking

****And now you’ve got social media experience too!

Repeat this process with each of your relevant experiences.

Step Five: Write your conclusion

You’re almost to the end! Now it’s just time to finish things up by writing the conclusion.

You should reiterate what you admire about the company and how you would be honored to work for them.

You should say that your resume is attached.

You should ask them to reach out and thank them for their consideration.

Ex. Once again, I truly admire the innovative journalism of Trendsetting Magazine and would be honored to intern for you. My resume is attached. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Step Six: Proofread

You thought you were done? Not so fast! Before you email it off, you’ve got to go through and check for typos, grammar errors, and spelling mistakes. Think about the first impression you want to be making. You do not want the very first thing a hiring manager sees to be that you misspelled the name of their company. Ideally, you should get someone else to look over the cover letter for you, be it a parent, friend, professor, or writing center tutor. A second pair of eyes is invaluable!

Step Seven: A few things to remember

There’s a few other points to a cover letter that don’t fit anywhere else, so I’m going to cover them really quickly here.

  • Black and white only. A professional cover letter does not have color. It is black and white, like a tuxedo or a penguin.

  • Don’t use the very first Word template you see. If you’re sending it in, you can bet other applicants will be too.

  • Don’t copy and paste your cover letter. Sending in ten tailored cover letters will lead to better results than sending out fifty obviously copy and pasted ones.

  • Use the same heading and font as on your resume. They should be a matched set, like a fancy teapot and teacup.

  • The cover letter should not be longer than one page.

  • If possible, find the name of the hiring manager and address the cover letter personally to them. Looking through LinkedIn can be helpful here.

  • Make sure your contact information is up to date

Once you write a few of these, it gets easier. Like they say, practice makes perfect!