Career

How to Cold Email for an Internship

We asked our experts to share their insights on how cold email for an internship.

Have a look at their suggestions:

David LaVine

David LaVine

Founder, RocLogic Marketing, LLC

Start by researching LinkedIn to find a mentor at the company of interest

A mentor, in this case, means:

(1) someone that’s already doing the job you hope to do in the next few years and
(2) appears willing to help.

Identifying the first aspect of the mentor is based on the title, education, and skills listed on LinkedIn. Figuring out the willingness to help is a bit more challenging, but good indicators include things like:

  • they have a fair number of connections on LinkedIn (say at least 250),
  • they actively share and react to content, and
  • they volunteer.

When you reach out, focus on being straightforward and authentic. Tell them you’re interested in an internship, and tell them why (it’s definitely helpful if you have a passion that aligns with what the company does). Ask if they’d be willing to help you understand the culture of the company and how you can best help.

Make sure that during the conversation, you learn who would be the best manager-type to reach out to with a cold email. When you send the email, again, be authentic and straightforward, and let them know you chatted with the mentor.

Be sure to include insights from your conversation with the mentor to best position yourself to be helpful to the company you’re interested in interning at. This method takes time and effort, but that’s what it takes to not get lost in the noise of all the others looking for an internship.

Peter Wilfahrt

Peter Wilfahrt

Author | Entrepreneur, Versandgigant

Overdeliver

Expect your recipient to be very busy. Why should they hire you and offer an internship? If you’re reaching out to your future boss, do your research first.

Find their website, corporate Facebook channel, and then find your boss’ profile on LinkedIn. After that, generate a piece of work that you can submit.

Looking for a creative job? Then create an ad, short video, or blog article that:

  • a) show’s that you’ve understood what the company needs and communicate externally and
  • b) demonstrates your skills.

Don’t be shy to invest some hours, these are well spent and will pay off in the future. You’re looking for that internship but you’ll really want to focus on companies that are a long-term fit for you, too.

Liz Jeneault

Liz Jeneault

Former News Anchor | Vice President of Marketing, Faveable

Find specific contacts at the company you’re interested in interning for and reach out to them directly

The best way to cold email for an internship is to find specific contacts at the company you’re interested in interning for and reach out to them directly. Don’t endlessly or aimlessly email people, but instead thoughtfully reach out to those who you think would be the best match to work with.

For example, if you want to work at a news station and you know you’re most interested in breaking news, you might want to reach out to the assignment desk editor or one of the breaking news reporters.

Explain your great interest in what they do, and detail your eagerness to learn more.

Be sure to share anything that helps qualify you for the internship, and politely ask who to contact for information about applying. Show you’ve done your research and know your stuff!

People are much more likely to forward your email on to HR if you come across as friendly, professional, knowledgable, and ready to learn.

Matthias Markus

Matthias Markus

Content Emperor at modash.io

Here is a quick guide for people looking for internship opportunities:

Try social channels first: LinkedIn is King

A quick LinkedIn introduction will come in handy, even if the person you are trying to intern for at first ignores it. When sending a LinkedIn request, make sure to tag a short note to it, explaining honestly the intent of why you are reaching out to them.

Move to email

There are a bunch of ways to discover a person’s email address. For LinkedIn, a great example of this is ContactOut, a browser extension you can use for free in this case. Here also, Google is your great friend as always.

When writing your email, make sure to mention that you tried to reach them out in other channels, but sadly didn’t have any luck. You are more likely to get a response like this.

Explain why you chose this specific company to intern at and what do you expect to get out of it. Be as detailed as possible.

Followups

People are busy. On vacation. Get distracted all the time. Just because they didn’t respond to you now, doesn’t mean they don’t want to talk to you. A couple of days later, after you have sent your first email, make sure to send a friendly reminder and that you are eagerly waiting for the answer.

Make sure to send a second followup after another couple days, and if you don’t hear anything back within a week, then I can say that you should be move on to another option.

There are a lot of companies looking for interns, and they are actually a lot easier to reach than you think. A lot of people think that “high up the corporate ladder” is impossible to reach, but in most cases, people don’t even try.

Extra tip:

If you get a reply and you get asked some specific questions, especially questions like “How you see yourself in 5 years…” kind of questions, then the answer “I don’t know yet” can work out well for you.

If you show your willingness and openness to be adaptive and learn on the go, you have nothing to be worried about. When interning, don’t worry if you haven’t figured out everything for yourself yet.

Honesty is appreciated a lot more, and a lot of companies are more than happy to help you figure out the right fit within the team.

Lindsey Marx

Lindsey Marx
Content Strategist, Best Company

Cold emailing for an internship can be a hard thing to do for many internship seekers.

Before emailing, make sure you establish a relationship

As with all networking, you want a relationship first where the connection knows who you are and is familiar with your background. I suggest connecting with someone on LinkedIn and introduce yourself.

Then, send an email explaining who you are, the skills/achievements you have, your interest in the company, and ask for a referral to someone who could direct you to an internship, or ask what internships are available for you to apply for.

Most often, companies are impressed with individuals who take the initiative to lead out and find internships. Be sure to state your interest in the company to show that you did your homework and genuinely interested in the company.

When you receive a response, be quick to respond back and thank them for their time, and follow up with the next steps.

Don’t sit around and wait, be timely, and represent yourself professionally and well.

Shawn Breyer

shawn-breyer

Owner, Dough Hackers

Make sure that you send your email to the appropriate person

When you are cold emailing for an internship, you want to make sure that you send your email to the appropriate person.

You wouldn’t want to send the email to the company’s support line email or general email. You want to make sure that the individual who is recruiting is the person receiving your email.

When you set your eyes on a target company, see if you can find any HR emails that you can reach out to. These may be under Careers, About Us, or the company’s page displaying employee Biographies.

If you are unable to find any email information, you can simply call and ask to speak with the HR department. Once you get them on the phone, ask if you can send them a resume for a potential internship.

This has two benefits:

  • You find out if they are hiring interns in the near future, and
  • You warm them up to your email that you are sending them.

Since you have built some rapport, you are more likely to be considered.

Jamie Shostak

Jamie Shostak

Co-Founder and Head of Growth, Appetiser App Development

You want your email to catch the eye of busy HR personnel

The short story for how to cold email for an internship is that fortune is in the follow-up. The long story is you also want your email to catch the eye of busy HR personnel or even busier startup founders, so it has to stand out without being too long.

You might write a subject line like “Reaching out” or “Thanks for connecting” – even if you haven’t connected.

The personal touch will pique their interest, and there is a higher likelihood they will open your correspondence. After making initial contact, you want to follow up 2-3 times over phone and email. In my experience, I followed up for three weeks before eventually landing a full internship with a startup that sold advertising spaces on bottles of water.

Related: How to Get an Internship (According to 17 Managers and HR Experts)

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