Swinging for the Fences: Crafting a Standout Internship Cover Letter
April 9, 2017
A cover letter is the first thing your potential employer is likely to see about you. This letter is crucial to scoring that job opportunity with the company that could make your future. While creating this letter may seem like an easy play, many applicants struggle with where to start. Ensuring that your internship cover letter delivers timely and accurate information — along with a strong sense of your character and values — is crucial in landing the position. A clear, concise and succinct cover letter is achievable by following a few key tips.
Winding Up: Organizing a Winner
If you’re looking to secure an internship with a winning team, organization is key. Approach the proverbial batter’s box with all of the tools and resources that your education and experience provides. Break out your tablet or computer and research the company’s history, culture and employment profile. Make notes on the key elements of each and how your application fits the bill. Jot down this information on flash or index cards for later use, and keep a copy of your resume close at hand.
The Pitch: Identifying Shared Values
Look across the information gathered and find the places where the company’s core values, mission, and provided business plans or goals align as closely as possible with your own. If the mission statement and values are the pitch, it falls to you to knock it out of the park by dialing in the right swing. Many companies focus on building better relationships with clients or industries. Consider how the contacts and opportunities formed during your experience or education have shaped your values. Add these to the flash cards next to the values or goals. These alignments form the core of a solid internship cover letter.
The Lineup: The Right Place at the Right Time
A cover letter for internship opportunities must address the questions of where and when as well as who and how. An intern may possess all the values of the company but still strike out due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time or applying for an internship that doesn’t meet their needs. Avoid this potential pitfall by addressing up front why the position is important to the company and following it up with why yours is the application that fits the internship. Even better, align both place and time by determining how getting the internship now prepares you for future work in the field and gives the company the benefit of your personal skills and energy. Jot down the information and bring it up in your cover letter.
The Swing: Ideal Cover Letter Format
If you’ve lined up your swing with the pitch by determining how skills and values fit the place and time, then you just need to score a hit with a well-formatted intern cover letter. Avoid lengthy personal issues, and begin with a simple formal greeting. Address the recruiter by name if at all possible, and never rely on clichéd “to whom it may concern” standards. Begin with a thoughtful and creative opening that stands out from the hundreds of "you have a position, and I need an internship” letters the recruiter receives. Analogies, rhetoric and similar hooks all belong in this first sentence and nowhere else. List personal achievements only as they apply to each of the requirements, and keep things professional. Break out those cards and compose a draft with the information you’ve gathered, and end with a cordial “thank you.”
Home Runs: Revision Leads to Success
A first draft of your internship cover letter may get you to second or third, but knock it out of the park by editing and revising what you’ve written. Address the company’s needs first and foremost. Try something like “This company needs interns with the energy and experience to get things right the first time and the maturity and flexibility to learn on-the-fly and adapt to the ever-changing market,” but replace “this company” with the company’s name, “energy and experience” with the requirements of the position, and the rest with the actual challenges the company’s interns may face, per your research.
Break out those notes, drill down from the values to the specifics of the position in the sentences that follow, and address each with how you are the right applicant for the place and time. Have instructors or peers review the internship cover letter before sending it off to verify its impact.
Crafting the perfect internship cover letter takes time, practice and careful attention to detail. Just as going into the letter creation process unprepared leads to fouls and striking out, failing to prepare for the next step can lead to serious errors. Create an interview kit that contains extra copies of your cover letter and resume, professional pens, and a few sharpened pencils. Pack personal grooming products next to these and emergency supplies, including stain remover, permanent markers, bandages, first-aid supplies and an umbrella for when the unforeseen occurs.
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