Cover letters may be just one document consisting of a few paragraphs but they're a very important document because they are the first step in getting a job. They're also your potential bosses introduction to you. Especially for interns, writing a cover letter can be daunting because even if you've completed an internship, you've still not spent a lot of time in the work world and writing may not be your forte.
There are three main components to drafting an internship cover letter beginning with the first paragraph, which states why you are writing, the second and third paragraphs, which state what you have to offer, and the last paragraph, which states how you will follow up. Let's take it step-by-step.
When sending out a cover letter it is important to let the employer know what you are applying for at the very beginning of your letter.
Example of a First Paragraph
Please accept my application for the summer analyst position recently posted on MonsterTRAK.
Always be clear, concise, and specific in your communications. This provides the employer with the exact information they need to direct your letter to the appropriate person or department. If you have a mutual contact that referred you, you should put that in the first paragraph.
Example If You're Being Referred to the Company
Ms. Mary Smith, a Brandeis alumna and Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Merrill Lynch, recommended that I mention her name when applying for the Merrill Lynch summer analyst position recently posted on MonsterTRAK. My strong academic commitment in addition to my participation in a number of co-curricular activities (and my previous internship with Smith Barney) makes me an excellent candidate for this position.
Second and Third Paragraphs
While you haven't been a member of the workforce, you have knowledge and skills acquired in your college courses, co-curricular and volunteer activities. Not to mention your previous internships and jobs. You can either devote one paragraph to relevant coursework and co-curricular activities and another paragraph to relevant work and internship experiences or include both in the same paragraph.
Example if You Have School Experience
During my first two years at Brandeis University, I excelled in all my business courses, especially finance and economics. I have enjoyed the challenges that these courses provided and found myself totally immersed in the overall management and business course culminating in a major project and presentation made to several visiting corporate executives. The project required a great deal of organizational and teamwork to make the presentation successful. The outcome was well received and the feedback included a plan on the part of the executives to implement several of my recommendations at the corporate level. Additionally, I served as treasurer of my sophomore class for two semesters and helped orchestrated two major fundraisers for charities in four short months.
Example of Internship Experience
My internship with Smith Barney allowed me to fully utilize my analytical skills and quantitative reasoning skills acquired at college. After six weeks, my supervisor recommended that I participate in a project involving senior analysts and I assisted with the final presentation made to the Board of Directors. This experience helped teach me how to think on my feet and raised my level of self-confidence.
The last paragraph is your opportunity to sum up your qualifications and how you intend to follow-up. Unless the job posting states that you do not contact the employer, this is where you explain how you will follow-up to ensure receipt of your material and request an interview. By following up, you not only ensure your documents were received; you afford the employer the opportunity to take a second look at your qualifications. It also tells the employer you are still interested in the position.
Example of a Last Paragraph
Thank you for taking the time to review my resume and cover letter. Given my extensive experience with other brokerage firms during previous summer internship programs, I feel well-suited for the Smith Barney internship position. I hope to be afforded the opportunity to intern with Smith Barney and will call soon to see if we can arrange an interview.