How to write a cover letter for an internship

Last updated: 2 Feb 2024, 10:21

Discover how to structure a strong covering letter for work experience based on a simple template.

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A strong internship cover letter complements your CV. Use it to point recruiters to the parts of your CV that match their requirements and to provide more detail. This will help employers see that you’ve thought about your skills and strengths and how they align with the organisation’s needs.

Internship hiring managers aren’t looking for lots of experience. Instead, they’re looking for skills, willingness to learn and genuine enthusiasm for the internship and their organisation. You can use your cover letter to demonstrate some of your skills and strengths. For example, it’s an opportunity to show that you can express yourself clearly and concisely, that you can carry out research and pay attention to what the recruiter needs.

What should you write about in your cover letter?

We suggest thinking of your letter as being in four parts:

You can use a similar structure for other cover letters, including for graduate jobs and vacation schemes – see our templates for examples of how you can do this. It’s best to take a slightly different approach if you’re making a speculative application for an internship – take a look at our guidance on this.

How to open a cover letter for an internship

How your letter opens depends on what you know about them. If you’re sending your letter to a named person, you can use this in your opening line – for example, ‘Dear Ms Johnson’. Avoid using a first name only unless this is all you have. It’s fine to use ‘Ms’ if you don’t know a female recruiter’s title.

If you don’t know the name of the person you’re writing to – perhaps you’re sending it to a team email address or using an application portal – you can use ‘Dear Sir or Madam’.

Use the first paragraph of your letter to outline which internship you’re applying for, where you saw it advertised and what attachments you’re also sending (for example, a CV) as part of your application. Keep this section short so that you have more space for the next two sections.


Dear Ms Johnson,

I have attached my CV in response to your advert on for a marketing intern.

What to write in a cover letter: why you?

After your opening, include a paragraph that outlines briefly what attracted you to this internship. Focus on what you would gain from the experience: for example, the aspects of it that particularly appeal to you and how these relates to your career goals, your course or specific skills and achievements. The aim is to communicate genuine interest in the internship based on your strengths and interests.

Then use the next paragraphs to match your skills against those the organisation seeks and to provide more information about them.

Look at the advert carefully, making a note of which of the required skills you have. The go back and provide more details. Think about answering the following questions:

  • How did you develop each skill?
  • Why did you choose to focus on these skills?
  • What have you enjoyed about learning these skills?
  • If they have influenced your career plans, in what ways?
  • Who did you work with and how did you work together?
  • What impact have your skills made so far?

As you write this section, remember to think beyond ‘traditional’ work placements. All of your experience – your studies, term-time and holiday jobs, volunteering, involvement with university clubs, hobbies and sports – counts when it comes to demonstrating who you are and what you can do.


Let’s say that you are applying for a marketing internship, which will require you to conduct simple research and data analysis tasks, contribute to social media campaigns by creating posts. The job description says that you will need good analytical and communication skills and be able to respond quickly to new information.

As you will see from my CV, I am a second-year combined arts student at Abingdon University. The course involves writing for a range of audiences, including developing marketing and advertising copy. I now hope to apply and build these skills via a marketing internship with [name of organisation]. I followed your social media campaign on water saving last summer and would love to gain insights into how such initiatives are developed.

I believe I have the skills to be a successful intern at your organisation. As well as writing, my course also involves carrying out research and analysing information such as statistics and historical sources. I regularly present the results of this work in seminars, both individually and as part of small groups. I recently completed a project on language use in political campaigns that I hope to build on in my final year.

I have also built a range of relevant skills from my vacation job as a customer service agent for Smith Energy, a role that involves resolving customers’ queries via email. As well as helping me build communication skills, the position also often requires me to think quickly and to handle complex questions calmly. Last summer I had the chance to shadow the social media team. In this time I experienced how they respond to customer and press queries.

What to write in a cover letter: why this internship matters

Your ‘why I am applying to this internship’ section should focus on why you’ve chosen this particular internship at this organisation. Read the advert again and research the employer, noting down aspects of the organisation and the internship that particularly interest you. Then explain why they’re important to you, linking them to examples from your CV to show how they relate to a career path you’re exploring or strengths you can demonstrate. It’s essential that what you have written couldn’t be said word for word about another employer.


Let’s say that you are applying to a charity dedicated to encouraging people to conserve resources and act more sustainably. This is one way that you can combine your research into the organisation and the opportunity with your interests and achievements.

I am applying to your organisation because I’m impressed by your mission to make the world a more sustainable place through concrete individual and community actions, and I’d like to contribute to it. As mentioned above, I was inspired by your campaign to save water and the way in which you targeted the money conscious as well as the more sustainably minded.

I was also interested to see that the marketing internship involves social media as this is an area in which I have enjoyed working and am considering making a career. Outside my studies I am social media officer for Abingdon University Drama Group, a role that involves planning and implementing campaigns about our productions. This includes writing all copy, designing graphics and creating videos. The role also involves analysing data relating to our social media accounts and creating a strategy to increase ticket sales. I especially enjoyed this aspect of the role as it enabled me to explore new ways to build engagement. A series of short videos was particularly successful – data indicated that 40 % of audience members attending our spring production had seen it.

What to write in a cover letter: how to finish

There are several ways to finish your cover letter. You could:

  • Thank the recruiter for reading your application
  • Outline when you’d be available (or not available) to attend an interview.
  • Simply note that you look forward to hearing back from the employer.

Sign off ‘Yours sincerely’ unless you’ve addressed your letter to Sir or Madam, in which case it’s conventional to use ‘Yours faithfully’.


Thank you for your time reading my application. I am available on the interview dates outlined in the advert and I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

[Your name]

Final tips

Don’t rely on an AI tool such as ChatGPT to write your covering letter: while it may be useful for reference, recruiters tell us that AI-generated covering letters aren’t specific enough about the organisation and your motivations for applying.

Sending the wrong version of your cover letter could scupper your chances of landing an internship. If you do more than one draft of your covering letter, save them into separate documents clearly labelled. This way you can easily identify your final version and avoid risking accidently sending one that you weren’t happy with.

Before you send your letter, ask a friend or careers adviser to read it through, both for feedback and as a proofread.

Finally, check any instructions from the recruiter before you hit ‘Send’. For example, they may ask for your cover letter as a separate document or in a particular format, or you may need to send additional information, such as referees or a link to a portfolio.

Where next?

It’s rare for you to have to write a covering letter without also writing a CV – check out our advice on internship CVs (complete with a template) for help in creating the perfect partnership.

If you are seeking an internship or other form of work experience, you can start with our complete work experience search .

And we’d also recommend you register with us , as you will receive a constantly updated, dedicated feed of vacancies, advice and events that are of most interest to you.

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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