How to Write an Effective Cover Letter

Thu, Feb 11, 2010

Internship Cover Letter

A guide for foreign students wishing to land an internship in the United States

What is needed?

  • A good word processor. Microsoft Works or Word will do fine.
  • A trusted friend who can proof-read your resume and cover letter (Your friend should be able to help you check for grammar, syntax, and spelling errors in English)

Cover Letter

A cover letter is sometimes the only means you have to convince someone to actually read your resume. Your cover letter should convey your excellent writing skills and sum up the reasons why you are ideal for the internship. You want it to capture the attention of the employer and demonstrate why you deserve an interview!

Helpful Tips:

  • Avoid any type of spelling or grammar mistake. Most prospective employers will stop reading after one such mistake.
  • It is important to steer clear of contractions like “I’d” or “I’ll” instead say “I would” or “I will.”
  • Avoid using the passive voice. You want to make yourself the subject! Instead of saying “That allowed me to demonstrate…” say “I demonstrated…”

Here is a suggested cover letter format:

<Your Address> (Do not put your name)
<Today’s Date>

<Mr./Ms. Employer’s Name>. Example: Ms. Anna Smith.
<Job Title> (This is Ms. Anna Smith’s job title) Example: Director of Human Resources.
<Company’s Name>

<Dear Mr./Ms. Employer>:

<First paragraph:> It is usually short (sometimes no more than three sentences) and will quickly tell the person which position you are applying for and why.

Important points:

  • The purpose of your letter and the position for which you are applying.
  • It is not necessary to include how you heard about the position, unless it was through a mutual contact. In that case, include the person’s full name.
  • Use information you learned in your research to express why you are interested in the position or the company. Keep it brief and specific.

<Second Paragraph:> This is the paragraph where you state why you are qualified. You want to select highlights of your relevant experience and qualities that you feel make you a viable candidate. Select two to three points you want to make about specific experiences or qualities. You will need to use examples as evidence to support those points. Remember to edit this paragraph according to the position for which you are applying.

Important Points:

  • The first sentence is important. It is your brief opportunity to introduce your skills and qualifications.
  • The body of the paragraph should provide strong evidence to support what you have claimed. Use specific job/internship/volunteer experience, but don’t quote from your resume.
  • The final sentence should be a summary of everything you have previously written. It is a way to bring the reader’s attention back to the matter at hand. Make sure to mention the name of the position and company for which you are applying again.

<Final paragraph:> Keep the last paragraph very brief. It should be no more than two to four sentences. Refer to your enclosed resume for the reader’s consideration. Request an interview and let them know if you will be phoning to follow up on your application. (If you say you will contact them, you must do so within the stated period). Finally, thank them for their time because they are likely very busy!


Your Signature (Black ink is considered best)

Your Name



Once you have proof-read and edited your cover letter you are finished! You are now ready to apply for your internship. Best of luck!

Please see our sample cover letter attached.

For more cover letter inspiration, click this link: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/coverlettersamples/a/coverlettsample.htm

Sample Cover Letter

Dear Ms. Smith:

I will soon be graduating with a Master’s in English Literature from New York University. I have found this degree to be challenging and rewarding. Because of that, I am looking for an internship with your office. I am interested in the position of Childhood Literacy Program Developer Intern for the summer of 2010.

I am qualified for this internship because I have volunteered with the YMCA summer camp programs for children and I helped them to develop a reading hour that promoted vocabulary learning. During that time, I was able to see what effective learning tools were and what they were not. I also have experience teaching freshman college students. I taught the required college English courses to incoming New York University Students. I instructed them how to read critically and write college level essays. I feel that my previous experience has prepared me for the position of Childhood Literacy Program Developer Intern.

I have enclosed me resume for your consideration. I will contact you by phone within a week to verify that you have received my resume. Thank you for your time.


Jill Thompson


By Sara Beck. Sara is an MBA student and loves to travel. She blogs at www.sarabeck.wordpress.com.

| More


1 Comments For This Post

  1. Jennifer Says:

    Thanks for your advice and kind words for the site!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.