Posted by StringOvation Team on Feb 24, 2020
There are two things to focus on when writing cover letters for the summer internships you've found.
1. Be sure you follow the instructions provided by the prospective employers. Never create a “general letter” to use for all your applications as it will feel general (aka, “generic”) to prospective employers, and that’s not at all the impression you want to make. You want each employer to feel they are special.
2. Create an easy-to-scan, clear and concise one-page letter that illuminates those things that set you apart from fellow applicants.
Doing these well will make you a strong contender for the job.
Now, let’s get into the details …
Internship Cover Letter Basics
Here’s a quick list of the things you want to accomplish with a well-written cover letter.
- Get the attention of the reader
- Address any questions or requests made in the application instructions
- Highlight your talents, experience, skill sets, or unique qualities that make you a qualified candidate
- A personal, original, and/or compelling sentence or two that compel reviewers to continue reading your résumé and the rest of your application
Cover Letter Format
All of that information must be included in a standard cover letter format. It’s a good idea to create a double-spaced format for easier reading/scanning, leaving an extra space between paragraphs, and with left-justified margins (no indents at the beginning of paragraphs). View a sample of a professional cover letter on Indeed.com.
- Your name and contact information. This appears on the top left. Include your name in bold and a slightly larger font to clearly identify you. Below that, list your email address, a website if you have one, and your phone number.
- The date. Required for any business form letter.
- The greeting. The greeting typically begins, “Dear (Mr./Ms./Mrs./Dr. Last name of the hiring manager).” If you don’t have a name or the instructions don’t specify whom to address, you’re better off using the standard, “To Whom it May Concern.”
- Opening paragraph. Many people use something such as, “My name is XX, and I’m applying for….” That’s fine, but it’s a bit dry and not at all memorable. Notice the Indeed.com example, where the writer begins, “I’m excited to be applying…” Using a more emotional hook that expresses how you feel in taking a step forward towards your dream is more engaging for the reader. This is a good place to express why you want to work for them, what you know (or who is it you know) that draws you to that particular company or brand, and what you hope to learn or experience.
- Middle paragraph. This is the place where you begin sharing relevant experience. Don’t hesitate to draw from your personal and academic life experience if you haven't worked in the field yet (more on that below). That’s perfectly normal for someone applying to an internship (an entry, training-level) positions. The middle paragraph is also a place to share relevant skills, talents, or abilities that enhance your work performance.
- Also express how this organization can best use your skills and abilities. In other words — what’s in it for them? What can you do for them? How will they benefit by hiring you? Why would NOT hiring you be a mistake?
- Closing paragraph. Like the opening paragraph, use emotion again to explain a bit more about why you want to work for them, what you want to learn them, and any further experience, or things about you that you, that make you especially qualified.
- Closing phrase and signature. Anything from, “Warmly,” “Sincerely,” “Best Regards,” or something similar are appropriate. Follow this with two to three return keys (this is where your wet signature will go) and on the next line, type your full name.
Extra Tips to Generate More Attention from the Hiring Manager
In addition to a well-written letter, here are the little extra things you can do:
Clearly state the job title(s), roles, or work that interests you the most
In some cases, this may be as simple as “intern,” but it could be that you’re applying for a specific internship title or position. Use the same wording or phrasing as they do in their job postings.
Use the right keywords and phrases
Increasing numbers of employers send cover letters and résumés through scanners that detect certain keywords or phrases, which sort the applications accordingly.
Read the job posting, instructions, and the company’s website looking for specific words, phrases, or themes. If the posting lists particular qualities, list those exactly as the post words them. That said, don’t cut and paste or sound generic. Use authentic, genuine language that’s naturally peppered with the relevant words or phrases.
Focus on life skills if you lack relevant job experience
Just a reminder: a lack of bona fidé work experience should in no way diminish your confidence or thin out your cover letter and résumé. You’ve spent roughly two decades cultivating real world skills and responsibility, and those are just as relevant as skills developed via paid work history.
For example, you might not have work experience that relates to time management, but the time management skills required to balance complex school, work, music lessons, practice, and rehearsal/performance schedules are equally valid. Have you ever volunteered? What skill sets were put to use or acquired during that experience? You may not have held a customer service position before, but you have socialized in rooms full of strangers at post-concert receptions, demonstrating your ability to work with the public.
OFFER TO PROVIDE REFERENCES
Include an offer to provide work and/or character references. Be sure you've gone ahead and approached these people ahead of time to get their permission and get a feeling for what they'll say about you. These can be former bosses, co-workers, teachers, any adult with whom you've had a good relationship where they've seen your talents. Even better — ask them to give you a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. Learn more about using social media to boost your music career.
Finally, have someone who is a good writer or reader in your life and who knows you well, proofread the printed letter before you sign, attach your application, and send it off. Those extra set of eyes may catch mistakes you missed, and another person’s review may illuminate experience, skills, or talents you didn’t think of on your own, which you can insert to round out the body or conclusion.
EXTRA HOT TIP! Include An Interview Video
If you feel confident and can be relaxed and genuine in front of a camera, this tip can give you a tremendous edge. Don't just write a letter. Also include a video of you talking about why you’re genuinely interested in their company, this particular internship, even about the specific hiring manager (if you know anything about them), and what you bring that’s valuable to the company (aka — why they want to hire you).
Warning: if you do this, you truly need to put the best you forward. Remember that the camera captures everything! Your video should be no more than 2 minutes, 30 seconds long.
- Be well-groomed. Dress appropriately for the role you’re seeking. Your hair is clean and neat, your clothes are clean and pressed.
- Ladies — use just enough makeup to enhance your looks on camera.
- Gentlemen — if you have a beard or moustache, make sure it's combed and neat looking. A tie isn’t necessary, but it couldn’t hurt, especially if you’re applying for a role that puts you in contact with the public, e.g. sales or customer service rep in a music store.
- Be personable, smile, speak from your heart. This is where you can make your personality shine so you stand out from the crowd. Pretend they’re sitting in the room with you and act as though you’re having a conversation. And don't forget to look into the camera!
- Post the video on a private channel on YouTube or Vimeo and include that link in your cover letter.
The good news is you can do the video in increments and edit it so that your worst mistakes are removed. Just don’t make the video too polished (unless you’re trying to become a video producer). It will come across as fake.
Best of luck as you complete winning summer internship letters that lead to callbacks and interviews! Let us know how it goes!