Cover Letter Secrets from a Seventeen Intern Supervisor!


To whom it may concern:

I am a junior journalism major at The College of New Jersey applying for the position of-Stop. Right. There.

That is such a tired, formal way of writing the make-or-break cover letter. If you’re seeking an internship at a magazine, or in broadcast, PR or even marketing, sticking to a standard cover letter is just going to land you at the bottom of an inbox.

For creative industries with hundreds – sometimes thousands – of applicants each semester (especially for the summer), it’s all about adding your own personal flare to a cover letter.  Seventeen magazine Executive Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief Bernadette Anat is a pro at spotting the best internship candidates through cover letters. She’s the features intern supervisor (AKA the “intern mama”) responsible for hiring and delegating interns to specific editors. 

And she wants to be intrigued by you in your cover letter – with the right amount of formality in just one page (and only one page!).

“I don’t want to feel like I’m a 70-year-old person that you’re talking to, because that’s what it feels like sometimes,” she says. “Just tell me something different, tell me something specific and tell it from the heart, too.” Instead of starting your cover letter with a bland, formal introduction, relate the position to your life. Anat and many internship coordinators like her prefer to read a story that easily transitions into why you’re the perfect candidate.

“My favorite cover letters are the ones that start off telling a story right away,” Anat says. “I want you to go straight to a specific story about how Seventeen has affected your life and not in just the standard, ‘Oh, you know, it really walked me through my teenage years, it told me fashion tips.’”

No matter what creative industry, make your cover letter relate to you and only you.

Here’s a trick: If you ever wonder if someone has submitted a cover letter with an intro paragraph just like yours, they probably have. “You would be surprised at how many ‘I have been reading Seventeen my whole life,’ we get,” Anat says. “I’m like, I know you’ve been reading Seventeen. And no matter what magazine I’m at, I know you’re going to tell me that you’ve been reading the magazine your whole life and tell me why you love the magazine.”

Instead, if we stay with the Seventeen example, mention a specific article, or think back to that time you were with your crush and you tried a move that Seventeen’s love section suggested. Write about this and you will win big points – and hopefully a phone interview too.

While it’s important to be personable, it’s also essential to maintain a level of professionalism. As Anat says, don’t throw around “Girl” after every sentence, or hashtags (unless done super creatively and effectively!). “Write like you’re speaking to a professor that you really, really like,” she says. “You want to speak to them like an adult, but you have a relationship with them.”

Putting all of this in one page can be a little tricky, but it’s best to be concise. Go back and try to edit down your cover letter for wordiness. Also be sure that you achieve that personable professional tone in your letter.  “People use very stilted language. Be formal, but be personable too” Anat says.

And as a side note, there’s nothing wrong with getting even more creative, as long as it’s within reason. Applicants submit YouTube videos, mock event proposals, and so much more. It’s professionalism with a creative twist!  

When it comes to scoring that dream internship, it’s all about that coveted cover letter! Good luck, #Girl!