How not to apply for an Internship – 2

Imagine yourself inside a book shop surrounded by hundreds of books of all possible covers and colors. Some of the titles look interesting; you open it up, read couple of lines, find them boring and put it down and move on to the next one. Even if I were to tell you that the some of the pages inside the book are the most interesting ones ever written, how likely are you to go through the entire book to find those few pages? I think you know the answer.

A recruiter’s situation, shuffling through a maze of resumes is no different and hence how effectively you capture his or her attention through the content of your e-mail decides whether your CV is opened and read or not.

Again, let’s have a look at a real world example. Out of 81 email applications that I have received for internship opportunity at Internshala, 35 had this as email content –

Cover Letter for Internship

Yes, you read it right. It was all blank with just the CV attached in the end! Now to me a blank email can represent one of the two things only – either you are not courteous enough to even introduce yourself or not serious enough to make an effort to write. Either of the impressions doesn’t help your chances of getting the internship.

Some of them were not blank but were very hurriedly written with grammatical mistakes like this one –

Cover Letter for Summer Internship

While others were too long which I could not read completely –

Cover Letter for Internship 3

A few did not even have a cursory “Hi” –

Cover Letter for Internship 4

While for many it was obvious that the candidates had not bothered to even check the Internshala website. Because if they had, they would have known that I am a “Sir” and not a “Madam” :) –

Cover Letter for Internship 5

I obviously feel irked and sorry at the same time for the students who make these mistakes. When I look at these cover letters, I want to ask the candidate – If you are not serious about this opportunity, then why waste your time and my time? If you do not have even 2 minutes to think and plan what you want to write, then how can you expect the recruiter to have 5 minutes to open your resume and go through it in detail? A poorly drafted cover email does leave a bad taste in employer’s mouth and diminishes your chances of getting a call for the interview. Why give the recruiter an excuse to reject your application in first glance?

Just as the aim of the subject line is to generate enough interest in employer’s mind to open and read your email among hundreds of applications that he/she may have received, objective of the email content is to spike the interest even further for the recruiter to open and read your CV.

So how to write a cover letter which does the job for you? I like to stick to KISSS (Keep it Simple, Short and Specific) principle and would talk about it in detail in next posting along with couple of the examples of the worst mistakes one can ever make. To cite a cliché, first impression is often the last impression and you do not get a second chance to make a first impression.

If you disagree, have something to say, ask, critique or know of an internship opportunity that you would like others to know – post it right away! If you like what you read here, please do tell another friend.

13 thoughts on “How not to apply for an Internship – 2

  • February 15, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    hey,i wanted you to know that i really liked your concern about the students and i am really thankful to you for letting us know such minute details.Thanks

    • February 17, 2011 at 8:53 PM

      Thanks Charu,

      Glad that I could be of some help. Do share the blog with other friends for whom it may be relevant.


  • February 17, 2011 at 1:33 AM

    Hello Sir,
    I want to thank you for devoting your precious time to let us know about such minute but highly important details.

    • February 17, 2011 at 8:48 PM

      Thanks Kanchan.

      Glad, I could be of some help. Keep visiting and if you like what you read, please do share with another friend.


  • March 12, 2011 at 9:44 PM

    Hello Sir,

    Thank you for all the articles that you have published sir, they were very enlightening. However I have a couple of questions for you

    1. How are we supposed to address the recruiter in the event that we do not know whether we are dealing with a sir or a madam?
    2. How do we present ourselves in a manner that does appear pleading or desperate. The reason for this question is because there is this internship that I have been trying for weeks to get and I do not have any idea how to get the message across as this is my dream internship and the recruiter hasn’t replied yet. I have also followed your articles and believe I have the qualities for the internship.

  • March 13, 2011 at 6:38 AM

    Thanks for the questions.
    1. If you know absolutely nothing about the person who may be reading your email, a simple Hi (or even Dear Sir/Madam) would do. My point was more towards students who came to my blog, saw who I was and still wrote Dear sir / Madam :)

    2. Have you tried calling the person up, if you do not have a direct number, call the office number (usually available on website) and ask to be connected to the person. If not available, leave a message. But PLEASE do NOT stalk – at some point after all that you could try has been tried, you have to let the dream go and move on :)

  • March 21, 2011 at 9:53 PM

    Hi again sir,
    ‘Hi’, just seems a little informal enough to send to a person who hold quite bit of power over your internships so would you be kind enough to enlighten me as to what I should use in that stead?

    • March 22, 2011 at 7:19 AM

      “dear sir / name”, “respected sir” are other options but can’t be used if you don’t know the name or gender of the person you are addressing. In such situations “Hi” or “Respected Sir/Madam” are the only 2 choices left and I choose to go with the former though it’s purely subjective.

  • November 29, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    Hello Sir, I am very thankful for your kind suggestion which are very minute but crucial.Just before reading your post i have done the same sir once again thanking you a lot and sir please keep on posting these suggestions. With Regard, Prem

  • December 13, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    Hi Sarvesh

    Your articles are really enlightening. Thanks for the helpful tips that you have shared with everyone.
    I have one question though: is this internship programme specific for a certain age group?
    In terms of not knowing the gender of the recruiter, instead of saying “hi”, which seems kinda informal, don’t you think “To whom it may concern” seems more formal?

    • December 16, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      The internships are more targeted at students who are still in college (undergraduate / post graduate) but anyone who fits the “who can apply” bill of a particular internship can apply.

      I prefer using “Dear Sir / Madam” over “To whom it may concern” as later feels very impersonal though its a personal choice – I doubt if there is a set standard here.

      Hope this helps. Wish you all the best!
      Many thanks
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