How to Score an Internship: Master the Art of Email Outreach

Can you really ask for an internship? The answer is a resounding yes! Sending well-crafted internship emails is an effective way to express your interest and increase your chances of landing that dream gig. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide you with valuable insights on how to write compelling internship emails for various scenarios. So, let’s dive in and discover the secrets to success!

What Is an Internship Email?

An internship email is your opportunity to express your interest in an internship position. But remember, it’s not just about asking, “Can I have an internship, please?” Instead, you want to showcase your enthusiasm for a specific internship opportunity that already exists, explore the potential for creating one, or establish a relationship that may lead to an internship in the future.

What Is an Internship Cold Email?

A cold email is when you reach out to someone with whom you haven’t had any previous contact. This could be a recruiter for a position you’re interested in or a professor at your university whom you’ve never interacted with before. While writing a cold email may seem daunting, it can actually open doors for you.

“Not every student has a network of connections to help them secure a coveted internship,” says Tim Toterhi, a certified career coach. “But a well-crafted cold email can make all the difference. However, success requires research, timing, and a solid sales pitch.”

Keep in mind that a cold email doesn’t necessarily mean you have no connection whatsoever with the recipient. You might have been referred by a peer, professor, former boss, or a family member. Nevertheless, if it’s your first time reaching out, you need to make a fresh introduction and mention your mutual contact.

Why Write an Email Asking for an Internship?

You might be wondering if it’s worth the effort to write these emails. The truth is, sending an email can greatly enhance your chances of landing a valuable internship opportunity. Even if you don’t receive an immediate “yes,” you’re establishing a connection and demonstrating your exceptional enthusiasm. Who knows where that email might lead you?

Elisa Pineda, a talent acquisition manager, highlights the importance of standing out from the crowd by saying, “There will literally be hundreds, if not thousands, of people applying for the same internships. You need and want a way to stand out.”

Additionally, writing internship emails becomes essential when a company doesn’t publicly advertise their internship opportunities but you still wish to create an opportunity for yourself.

How to Write an Email Asking for an Internship

Now that you understand the significance of internship emails, let’s explore some general tips for crafting compelling messages, regardless of whom you’re contacting.

Research the Company

Before reaching out, it’s crucial to research the company thoroughly. Identify how your skill set aligns with their goals and how you can contribute as an intern. Consider the following questions:

  • What are the organization’s goals, and how can you contribute to them?
  • What gaps do you see, and how can you help fill them?
  • What unique value can you bring to the table if they were to bring you on as an intern?

This step is particularly important when contacting companies that don’t publicly advertise their internship opportunities. Having a well-defined job description with clear learning objectives can make it easier for the employer to envision your potential internship experience.

Find the Right Contact

If you have a specific company in mind but don’t know whom to contact, utilize platforms like LinkedIn and explore the company website to identify individuals with relevant titles in recruitment, early talent acquisition, internships, human resources, or the specific department you wish to apply to.

“Make sure you address the right person and indicate why you are contacting them specifically,” advises Tim Toterhi. “Are they the HR person in charge of internships or the department head for whom you want to work?”

Demonstrate Why You’re the Right Fit

Your email should not only request an internship but also serve as a persuasive pitch as to why you, specifically, deserve the opportunity. Start your email with a brief introduction that highlights your excitement about the internship. Show that you’ve done your homework on the company and conclude with a clear call to action, requesting time to discuss the internship opportunity further.

Here’s a simple format recommended by Otis Perry, a business development manager:

  • What and when: State the specific internship you’re seeking and the desired timeframe.
  • Where and why: Express your interest in working at the company and in the specific department.
  • How: Highlight your willingness to learn and the skills you possess that will contribute to the team.

Share Relevant Materials

While your email’s body explains why you’re the right fit for the internship, it’s beneficial to provide evidence to support your claims. Attach your resume to further demonstrate your skills and experience and help the recipient understand you better as an applicant. Additionally, consider including an online portfolio or real-life examples of your work.

“Add snippets of your relevant work or projects you’ve already completed,” suggests Elisa Pineda. “Include unique design work or video presentations. Show them why they want you, don’t just tell them.”

Include a Call to Action

Conclude your email with a clear call to action. What exactly are you seeking from the recipient? While securing an internship may be your ultimate goal, consider what initial step you need to take. Do you require a phone call with the recruiter? Or perhaps a discussion about current opportunities? A well-crafted call to action gives the person something to respond to and guides your interaction.

“I recommend reaching out for an informational interview with someone in the organization to learn more about the team and build a connection before proposing an internship,” suggests Clayton, an expert in the field. “During the informational interview, you may want to inquire about previous internships or their thoughts on how an intern could contribute based on their own experience.”

Write Clearly

Just like with any written communication, ensure your email is polished and error-free. Pay attention to details when reviewing your email. Did you spell the recipient’s name correctly? Have you included all the necessary links? Is your spelling and grammar correct? These small details can make a big difference in leaving a professional impression.

Get Creative When Appropriate

While it’s essential to maintain professional etiquette, don’t hesitate to inject some creativity into your email if the context allows for it. You don’t need to send a celebratory video evite, but if you’re applying to a more modern company or know that the recipient appreciates originality, thinking outside the box can help you stand out. For example, if you share the same alma mater, share a fun fact about your university. Or if you know the recipient loves poetry, use ChatGPT to compose a poem to include in your email.

“Think outside the box to grab the recipient’s attention,” advises Otis Perry.

Keep in mind that not every scenario calls for creativity, especially in more traditional industries like banking. However, when the context is right, a touch of creativity can help you make a memorable impression.

Follow Up

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t receive an immediate response to your email. After about a week, it’s perfectly acceptable to follow up with a second email. Keep it brief, summarizing your previous email, and remember to restate your call to action so the recipient knows exactly what you’re asking for. Sometimes, polite persistence pays off!

Internship Email Examples

Now that you have a clear understanding of how to craft effective internship emails, let’s explore some templates for different scenarios:

Asking a Professor

Subject line: Looking for Career Advice Post-Finance 101

Dear Professor Wyden,

I hope this email finds you well. I thoroughly enjoyed your introductory finance class last semester and have since been exploring relevant career opportunities within the field.

I am particularly interested in starting my journey through a finance internship. Since completing your course, I have taken another finance class with Professor Brown, where I honed my forecasting and modeling skills. As I explore internship opportunities, I find myself drawn to asset and risk management roles rather than corporate finance.

Given your extensive experience in asset management and investment banking, I would greatly appreciate your perspective on internship opportunities that you believe would be a good fit. I am available during your office hours on Tuesday. Would that be a suitable time for me to stop by?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,


Asking a Networking Connection

Subject line: Request for an Informational Interview (from a friend of Vanessa!)

Dear Liz,

I’m Cassidy, a student majoring in English at Z University. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I recently had a conversation with my hallmate, Vanessa, about UX design, and she highly recommended that I reach out to you. After reviewing your work, I must say that I am a big admirer of what you have accomplished for Y company. The website provides an incredibly user-friendly and stress-free shopping experience.

Throughout my psychology and English courses, I have developed strong communication, research, and critical thinking skills. Furthermore, I recently completed my first independent UX design project, which I have attached to this email. I am eager to take these skills to the next level and apply them through an internship with a company this summer.

I would love to hear more about your career journey and your experience working at Y company. Would you be available for a call next week?

Thank you for your time.

Best regards,


Reaching Out to a Recruiter

Subject line: Fellow Cardinal Interested in Software Engineering Internship at Z Company

Hi Molly,

My name is Mia, and I am a junior software engineering student at Wesleyan University. I recently discovered that there is a fellow Wes alumnus working at Z Company, which prompted me to reach out to you.

I have just submitted my application for the software engineering summer internship opportunity at Z Company. My academic experience and personal project work make me an excellent fit for the role. I have attached my resume and portfolio with relevant projects for your reference.

If you have time this week, I would love to connect with you to learn more about the role and your experience working at Z Company.

Roll Cards!


Asking Someone at a Company Without Publicized Internships

Subject line: Interest in Internship Opportunities at X Company

Dear Carly,

I hope this email finds you well. I am Zelda, a sophomore at Y University majoring in economics. I am incredibly passionate about making finance accessible to women.

My passion led me to discover X Company. I am thoroughly impressed with the work your organization is doing to break down the barriers faced by women in this field. I would love to contribute to your progress. My university-level work could help you engage with the younger generation and provide pre-professional education.

I would like to discuss how I may contribute to the company, potentially through an internship opportunity this summer when I have a break. I have attached my resume and an economic literacy project that I completed this semester. Do you have time this week to discuss potential opportunities?

Best regards,


Asking for an Internship via Email: The Bottom Line

Writing and sending internship emails may seem intimidating, but the rewards make it all worthwhile. Craft respectful and concise emails that demonstrate your interest and suitability for the role. Although not every recipient will respond, by taking this extra step, you are showing your willingness to make connections and create opportunities. Remember, you never know where an email might lead you—even if it doesn’t result in an internship this summer, it could open doors to future exciting opportunities!

Looking to enhance the skills necessary to secure an internship? Forage offers personal development job simulations that enable you to learn skills such as online personal branding, interviewing, time management, and presenting. Visit Zenith City News for more information and unleash your potential!