Companies like to hire attorneys who've had previous in-house experience, so getting an in-house internship as a law student can boost hiring potential.
Although it's only March, companies already have or are starting to hire their summer interns -- and the competition is stiff. So to get employers to notice your internship application, here are some cover letter tips.
1. Start with an attention-grabbing opener. Imagine you're an HR person and you're reading the hundredth cover letter that starts with, "Hello, my name is [name] and I'm applying for ABC Company's Legal Internship." Boring.
To differentiate yourself from other applicants, start your letter off with a line that highlights your accomplishments. For example if you're applying for an in-house tech internship, you might start with a line about how you're the editor of your law school's high tech journal and because of that, you're well-versed in the current legal and policy issues regarding relevant legislation/patent applications/international copyright issues.
2. Tell them why you love the company. While you don't want to sound like a brown-noser, your cover letter should convey why you want to work for the company. Remember: A cover letter isn't all about you and how great you are, it's about how your greatness can benefit the company, so know your audience. It's possible that a candidate's enthusiasm and passion for a company will trump another potential hire's work experience. So if this is your dream in-house internship, demonstrate your knowledge of the company in your cover letter.
3. Don't be afraid to add a little personality. Cover letters need to be professional, but don't let it deter you from revealing a bit of your personality. For instance, if the company creates educational apps for kids, you might want to mention you taught English overseas before or you tutored part-time in college. Make sure the tidbits of information are relevant to the company and most importantly, don't try to differentiate yourself so much that you're out-of-touch with the company's goals.
While a good cover letter will help you stand out, it won't guarantee that you'll get the in-house internship. Don't be discouraged -- companies tend to keep a file on candidates they didn't hire, but may want revisit if there are future openings.
So remember to be memorable when drafting a cover letter and to turn in a clean copy.
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- Here's an example of a great cover letter (Ask A Manager)
- 5 Places to Look for In House Counsel Jobs (FindLaw's In-House Blog)
- 4 Other Job Tips: When Being 'Practice-Ready' Isn't Enough (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)