• PTP Chicago

How to Write a Cover Letter for an IT Internship


Hunting for a full-time job can be a full-time job in itself. If you are following the best practices, like scanning the job description for keywords and tailoring your resume to the role, it can be very time-consuming. When you see that a cover letter is optional, you may be tempted to save some time and skip it. Don’t do it.


Cover letters are extremely important, especially for internships!


Applying for an internship means you likely don’t have much relevant work experience, if any at all. Writing a cover letter for an internship is the best opportunity you have to tell your story, while making the company the hero, and explaining to the IT recruiter why you would be the best fit for the role.


Topics Covered:


  • Focus on what the company wants

  • Demonstrate your relevant experiences

  • Quantify your soft skills

  • Be confident, not apologetic

Focus on what the company wants

You will use your cover letter for an internship to talk about yourself, of course, but remember to make the company you are applying for the hero of the story. The hiring manager is much more interested in what you can do for the team, than what the internship can do for you.

Find something the company does or builds that truly excites you and highlight how you could help. Do they make a product you use yourself? Do they volunteer for organizations you’re involved in or support yourself? Are they the market leader in an industry or sector you want to be a part of? Make it clear in your message that they inspire you. More importantly, list out some of the ways you can contribute to their goals.


Demonstrate your relevant experiences

Maybe you don’t have relevant experience or any experience to add to this section. Worry not, as this is a cover letter for an internship—the recruiter expects it. Think back to the first section, where you described what the company is or does, that you are passionate about. Then find experiences you have had and skills you have learned that define what you could bring to the table if given a chance.

Try to think of any teams you have worked with that were highly collaborative. A project where your individual success relied not only on what you accomplished, but what your teammates did as well. If you took on a leadership or mentor role, officially or not, even better. Every hiring manager is looking for a person who is a great teammate and brings value to those around them.

Also, consider any technical or critical thinking projects you worked on in the past, even if they don’t seem directly relevant. If you had to solve complex problems, figure things out on your own, make mistakes and learn on the fly, ensure that you highlight them. Focus on what you personally did, what you learned, and how that knowledge will be beneficial to the internship at hand.



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Quantify your skills


Everyone thinks they are a great communicator, collaborator, and teammate. Can you prove it? If so, add it to your cover letter for the internship.

College projects often ask the participants to rate their teammates once the task is complete. All jobs, even part-time and entry-level ones, give their employees reviews. Events like hackathons, capture-the-flag, and other competitions rank the participants. Do you have commendable ratings or ranking on something similar? Add it to your cover letter.

You may not have an example as clearly fact-based as those above, and that’s okay too. Think of any project you succeeded at with a team and do the math on your own. If you worked with a team of 4 people, and 3 of them came specifically to you for help, then 75% of your team looked to you for leadership and guidance. If you were in a class of 30 students, but the professor chose you to lead an initiative for the class, they likely considered you to be the top 3% of the group. Stay honest and authentic but don’t be afraid to get creative.

Be confident, not apologetic

People writing a cover letter for an internship have a tendency to apologize for their lack of experience. They will often write something like, “Even though I only have...” or “Despite having no experience, I was able to...” Don’t do this!

Instead, treat your cover letter like more of a sales pitch and sell yourself (while remaining authentic) to the company. “I am excited for the opportunity to leverage the communication and collaboration skills I gained while...” or “The lessons I learned while working on (project name) will benefit us both in the role of...” are much better options. Focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses, and on what the company will gain rather than yourself, to set the right tone and make a great impression.

Conclusion

Writing a cover letter for an internship may feel like a tedious task. If the employer doesn’t require it, you may be tempted to skip it altogether. This is one of the most common mistakes a recent grad can make.

What your resume may lack in relevant work experience, your cover letter can make up for. Use it to describe what you have done, the soft skills you have built, the lessons you have learned, and translate all that into value for the company!




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About the Company:

Peterson Technology Partners (PTP) has been Chicago's premier Information Technology (IT) staffing, consulting, and recruiting firm for over 22+ years. Named after Chicago's historic Peterson Avenue, PTP has built its reputation by developing lasting relationships, leading digital transformation, and inspiring technical innovation throughout Chicagoland.

Based in Park Ridge, IL, PTP's 250+ employees have a narrow focus on a single market (Chicago) and expertise in 4 innovative technical areas;

  • Cybersecurity

  • Artificial Intelligence

  • Data Science

  • Cloud & DevOps

PTP exists to ensure that all of our partners (clients and candidates alike) make the best hiring and career decisions.

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