Ask The Intern: How to write a cover letter

Dear Danielle, my name is Jennifer and I just found a few different international internships that I want to apply to. I know that editing my resume is only half of the work involved in applying for a job. The difficult part for me is figuring out how to write a cover letter. Everything I write seems so impersonal and generic. Do you have any tips for interns like me?– Jennifer

 

Hi Jennifer, thanks for your message. I know how time consuming and difficult it can be to submit application materials. When a potential employer reads your job application, their real first impression of you is your cover letter. You want to make sure that this succinct letter represents you well. Here are five useful tips on how to write a cover letter like a pro.

 

1. Always address your cover letter to a specific person

While it’s acceptable to open a cover letter with “to whom it may concern,” it’s always more beneficial to include a specific hiring manager’s name when possible. This makes the cover letter personal and more direct, which helps build your rapport with the person reviewing your materials. Sometimes the job description might not mention the person you need to address your materials to. This may require some research on your end, which in return will impress the people reviewing your application.

 

2. Understand the role that you’re applying for

Though it sounds self explanatory, you’d be surprised by how many people apply for roles they don’t know anything about. Understanding the true ins and outs of the job role is the most important factor in learning how to write a cover letter that’s effective. To fully grasp an understanding of the job you’re applying to, and the company as a whole, I recommend not only reading over the job description, but also familiarizing yourself with the company’s mission, website, and also their social media presence. Once you have a better understanding, you can reference your experiences and be specific about how they fit in with the tasks you will be assigned in this position.

 

how to write a cover letter

 

3. Talk about how your skills can benefit the company

Remember that your cover letter is a way to make you stand out from the rest of the applicant pool. Use your cover letter as a chance to briefly showcase how you can help their company, by using the skills you’ve learned in school, through professional experiences, and other self-taught skills. Make sure to answer questions like: What makes you a good fit for this role? What areas of expertise can you bring to the table? What relative experience do you have doing similar things in another job or position of responsibility?

 

4. Give concrete examples of your accomplishments

It’s one thing to talk about your skills, and another thing to let results speak for themselves. When referencing your skills and experience, make sure to give your potential future employer actual case studies from previous roles. Numbers speak volumes. Case studies can include things like revenue percentage gains, follower increase, outreach expansion, etc. through different projects that you were a part of executing.

 

how to write a cover letter

 

5. Write about why this position and company fit well with your career goals

While your cover letter is a chance to introduce and talk about yourself, it’s also your chance to provide positive ego boosting feedback to a company you like. Tell them why you like the company and their mission. Explain why this particular position fits your interests. They’ll be happy to hear it, and it’s a great way to end your cover letter with a positive tone.

 

Now that you know how to write a cover letter like a pro, learn more about how to boost your career with an international internship.

 

Photos

1. based on application-pen, by Flazingo, CC-by-2.0

2. based on Day 187, Project 365 – 4.28.10, by William Brawley, CC-by-2.0

3. based on College of DuPage Hosts Career Fair 2015 10, by COD Newsroom, CC-by-2.0

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

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Danielle Ortiz-Geis

Danielle's love for travel and intercultural exchange stemmed from her study abroad experiences in Prague, where she studied in 2012. After graduating from American University in Washington, D.C. she began her career in marketing and international education and has held previous roles at CET Academic Programs as their Marketing Coordinator, AFS Intercultural Programs as a High School Study Abroad Advisor, and Go Overseas as a Content Writer. After receiving her American-Chilean dual citizenship, she moved to Santiago, Chile and is very excited to join The Intern Group's Marketing team. On the weekends you can catch her in the mountains, at a coffeeshop, or exploring a new city by foot with her camera in hand.

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