An internship can provide career-building experience and be a stepping stone to your dream job. The essay gives you a chance to express your personality beyond what can be gleaned from other aspects of the application. Think of it as a written interview and use it as an opportunity to convey your passion for the field and personal motivations. A well-crafted interview can separate you from the other candidates by demonstrating your strength in written communication.
Start with an attention-grabbing opening sentence. Whoever is reading your essay will likely be reading many of them, so you need to establish yourself immediately as special by revealing a detail that is relevant but interesting and unique. Your introductory paragraph should be specific and directly related to the internship. For example, if you're applying for a veterinary internship, mention your experience as a pet foster parent or classes you've taken related to animal behavior and well-being.
Conclude your first paragraph with a clear thesis statement. Your thesis will guide the direction of the rest of your essay, and should be narrowly focused to the internship you want. For example, your thesis might read, "My volunteer experience working with animals has helped me develop compassion and attention to detail, and an internship will help me hone these skills even further."
Focus on why you would be an asset to the company. Every applicant will be writing what the internship opportunity will do for them, but you can set yourself apart by highlighting what you will be bringing to the company. Think about the most important qualities you will bring to the table, and include these in the first few paragraphs.
Relate relevant experience. Remember that experience can be anything from a leadership position on a sports team or a babysitting job. If you are including your resume and/or transcript, don't restate their contents. Instead, use the essay to elaborate on the skills and qualifications you have that make you a good candidate.
Prove you will treat the internship like a job. Whether or not you will be getting paid or working full time, show that you understand an internship is a meaningful professional opportunity and not a “job lite.” You can do this by adopting a mature and professional tone in the essay.
Avoid cliches or stating the obvious by being specific. There is no need to say, for example, that you are applying for the internship to gain experience--that’s what all internships are for. Instead, talk about the specific skills you hope to learn and how you will use them in your career.
Stick to guidelines. If there are published word limits, writing far more or far less will show that you do not know how to follow directions. Email the internship coordinator and ask for direction if you cannot find any, but only after trying to find the answer yourself. Otherwise, aim for 400-500 words.
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- Personalize the essay. You do not want the reader to think you wrote a form essay, but that you have done the research on their company and can point to reasons you will be a good fit for the internship.
- Have someone read over the essay to catch any grammatical or spelling errors you may have missed.
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