Cover letters are typically considered less important documents than resumes and therefore, receive less attention. However, a well-written letter can help create a compelling reason for a hiring manager to respond to you and may tip the scale in your favor if your competition chooses not to use one.
The purpose of a resume is to communicate your accomplishments, experiences, education, and skills. The purpose of a cover letter is to explain to a hiring manager how your accomplishments, experiences, education, and skills add value to the specific needs of the organization or business. Simply put, a cover letter gives a compelling reason for the hiring manager to interview you.
A cover letter for an internship should answer four questions.
Why am I a good fit for your organization?
How are my qualifications well-matched for an internship within the organization?
What should be the next step in pursuing an interview?
The answers you provide to these questions help the hiring manager understand how your resume fits the specific requirements of the internship. A cover letter allows you to draw similarities between your past and the employer's present needs. This helps the company understand how your skills, abilities and education can benefit the organization. A cover letter offers directions that point out how your strengths can be incorporated into the organization.
Keep in mind, a cover letter should be written with a focus on the employer's interests, NOT yours.
[For more information about cover letters, visit our Letters to Employers page. http://www.rit.edu/emcs/oce/students/letters-employers ]