Cover Letter Writing Tips for Internship Opportunities in Kenya

Dec 15, 2023

7 minutes

First impressions are irretrievable! Therefore, making great ones is important, especially as a budding professional seeking internship opportunities in Kenya. Most, if not all, higher education programs require learners to engage with professionals in their respective industries during an internship period. Such internships are academically accredited, necessitating that students land at least one internship opportunity before they complete their college/university studies. While internship opportunities in Kenya are limited and relatively difficult to land, a well-written cover letter can kick-start your career.

This article will provide expert cover letter writing tips to help you get your dream internship. It will explain what you must do before you start writing, the recommended cover letter structure, and offer content tips for an effective cover letter.

A. Before You Start Your Cover Letter

The cover letter writing process begins when you spot an internship advert that interests you. Before you get typing, here are 3 things you should do.

1. In-depth Research on the Company

Before you start writing your cover letter, research the company offering the opportunity. Questions that can guide your analysis of the organization include: What is the company’s mission? What is the company’s culture? Do the company’s values align with my professional goals? 

Answering such questions will help you learn more about the organization offering the internship opportunity. It will also enable you to evaluate your interest in the company and determine whether to proceed with your application.

2. Customize Your Cover Letter

While the “one-cover-letter-fits-all” strategy might help you cast a wide net within a short time frame as you search for internship opportunities, it could disqualify your candidacy. Recruiters know a generic cover letter when they see one. Furthermore, failure to customize your cover letter may communicate disinterest in the internship opportunity or a lack of commitment to the internship application process.  

The point is to customize every cover letter with details specific to the role and company of choice. When seeking internship opportunities in Kenya, focus on the quality of the cover letter for a few select jobs to maximize the likelihood of landing your dream placement.

3. Seek Recommendation

An employer is more likely to consider an internship application accompanied by a recommendation. So, before you start writing your cover letter for an internship opportunity, reach out to your network for a recommendation

As a recent graduate, you might be wondering, “Do I  even have a network to vouch for me?” Yes! You do. For starters, you can reach out to one of your lecturers to vouch for your academic achievements. Another alternative would be to ask your professional mentor or fellow alumni for a recommendation. Use your academic and/or professional affiliations to give yourself a head start within the applicant pool. You would be surprised at the positive impact of a “good word” from a reputable source!

B. Recommended Cover Letter Structure

Cover letter structure is critical to effective information conveyance when seeking internship opportunities in Kenya. Here are some structural tips to help you write a winning cover letter.

1. Introduction

The introduction is the first part of a cover letter. It names the expected recipient, e.g., Dear hiring manager or Dear [hiring manager’s name]. Most internship opportunity advertisements do not mention the hiring manager’s name. However, research into the company offering the internship can help you find the recruiter’s name, allowing you to personalize your cover letter. Nonetheless, if you cannot find the hiring manager’s name or are uncertain about the currency of employee records published online, a simple “Dear hiring manager” will suffice.  

2. First Paragraph

The first paragraph of your internship cover letter is crucial. It gives you a unique opportunity to capture the hiring manager’s attention, inspiring them to read the following sections. To make yourself stand out as a potential intern within a pool of applicants, your first paragraph should have:

a. An opening line that briefly introduces you based on your academic qualifications.

b. A statement indicating why you’re writing the cover letter.

c. A brief mention of how you learned about the internship opportunity (e.g., a social media advert or a personal referral/recommendation).

d. An expression of enthusiasm for the internship opportunity (i.e., show you’re eager, not desperate).

3. Body Paragraph (s)

The body of your cover letter allows you to sell yourself as the most suitable candidate for the position. Outline your qualifications, skills, and experience here. In this/these paragraph (s):

a. Explain your academic achievements and background in depth.

b. Mention projects and coursework that highlight your hard skills.

c. Link your experience and/or transferable skills to the internship responsibilities (include examples).

d. If you have yet to gain job experience, discuss your volunteer experience in a related niche.

e.  Mention and briefly explain your soft skills (e.g., team player, problem-solving skills) that complement your hard skills and make you an excellent fit for the company.

4. Closing Paragraph

The closing paragraph is your chance to leave a lasting impression on the hiring manager. It should inspire them to consider you a potential intern and invite you for an interview. An impressive cover letter’s closing paragraph:

a. Expresses your eagerness to contribute to the company’s advancement.

b. Restates your enthusiasm for the opportunity.

c. Expresses your interest in an interview to discuss internship position details.

d. Highlights what other documents you have provided alongside the cover letter.

5. Sign-Off

The sign-off is the last part of the cover letter. It allows you to finish your letter professionally. It should:

a. Appreciate the reader (hiring manager) for their consideration and time.

b. Have a sign-off phrase/word (e.g., Yours Sincerely or Sincerely)

c. Your full name

C. Content Tips For Your Cover Letter

Organized and well-presented content compliments a good cover letter structure when applying for internship opportunities in Kenya. Here are 5 tips to optimize your cover letter content.

1. Keep It Professional

Your cover letter should have a professional tone expressed in professional language. Professional language employs the first-person point of view, accurate spelling, and good grammar, avoiding slang.

Additionally, a winning cover letter has a professional format (described in this article’s “Recommended Cover Letter Structure” section). The professional format also includes:

a. Using a readable font (e.g., Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman)

b. Using font sizes 10 to 12

c. 1-inch margins on every side

d. 1.15 spacing between lines

2. Keep It Concise

An effective and professional cover letter is “short and sweet.” Mostly, one single-spaced page (approximately 500 words) is enough. Compiling all necessary information on a single page shows your potential employer that you can communicate concisely. Nonetheless, your cover letter must not be exactly one page long, your focus should be on the cover letter’s content quality, not quantity.  

3. Include Keywords

Including keywords related to the internship opportunity in your cover letter catches the hiring manager’s attention. As an employer skims through your cover letter, strategic keyword use inspires them to read the document’s details and increases your chances of getting the internship position. Among the keywords and phrases you should include are the company’s name, your experience and skills relevant to the job description. Moreover, use role-specific keywords in your cover letter to demonstrate interest in the internship opportunity. Employers tend to favour and onboard engaged candidates!

4. Share Your Goals

You can personalize your cover letter and emphasize your unique perspective by sharing your goals with your potential employer. Express your eagerness to learn and/or gain skills. Show your potential employer that your interest in the internship extends beyond course credits and career advancements into bringing invaluable experience to the company. The goal is to position yourself as a prospective employee, not just an intern!

5. Proofread Your Cover Letter

Spelling and grammatical errors may be inescapable because you’re human. That’s why you should never overlook proofreading your cover letter before you send it. Editing is divine! It’s the final puzzle piece that ties your structure and content together, creating a professional and winning internship cover letter.

D. The Takeaway

In conclusion, A well-written cover letter can land you your dream internship. It can also kick-start your career in your dream organization and, later, land you your dream job. It is time for you to leverage the power of your cover letter with the tips provided in this article to land yourself internship opportunities in Kenya.

Apply today! You don’t need luck when you have expert tips!

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