Preparing Your Accounting Internship Cover Letter – An Outline
When I ask students what parts of their internship search are the hardest, they always say the accounting internship cover letter and resume. Recently, I’ve been working with a lot of students to customize the accounting internship cover letter that they’re sending and seeing an improved response rate.
The cover letter is intimidating because it is your first chance at making a good impression or making a terrible one. What you write there decides whether or not you make it to the next stage of the interview process. Below, we’re going to give you a formula for writing a great accounting internship cover letter.
The purpose of the cover letter is to quickly convey why you are a great candidate not only to interview, but to hire to work at the firm. It’s important to keep your message to under one page and concisely talk about a few main points:
- Why are you applying?
- What do you study?
- Why should we hire you?
You’re going to want to address the cover letter to the recruiter or the hiring manager that you’re applying to for the position and quickly introduce yourself. This should be simple, don’t overthink it.
Paragraph 1: Why are you applying?
There are hundreds of students like you that are vying to get this position – the first paragraph should focus on the reasons you are passionate about starting your career with this position.
Even though your motivation might be the experience, resume building, and money, you need to show a deeper interest in the profession. In this paragraph, you need to answer:
- Why are you interested in accounting?
- Why do you want to intern for this firm?
Your interest in accounting should be easy to describe – people typically lean on things like the ability to work with lots of different companies, learn a lot of different industries, etc. You will need to be creative about your motivation for pursuing the career.
After giving some background on your career choice, it’s great to illustrate why you want to intern for this firm. This is a great time to reference a recruiting event, a conversation with an employee, or something that you saw in the news that made you interested in them.
Paragraph 2: What do you study?
If the reader is still reading your accounting internship cover letter, they are going to want to be able to check the boxes on whether or not you have the academic credentials they need to be able to interview, consider, and hire you for a position. Your second paragraph should include:
- What are you studying at school?
- What are your plans for the CPA?
Start by giving some background on what you’re studying and your plans for graduation, be sure to include all your majors and minors if you have more than one. Now remember, all the students that are applying have some sort of education, so you need to differentiate with what you do outside of your degree or any honors you’ve achieved.
If you are planning to take the CPA exam, include your plans for taking it and when you expect to be finished. Accounting firms highly value candidates with CPAs and will applaud your forethought in already planning and studying for the exam in advance.
Paragraph 3: Why should we hire you?
In my opinion, this is the most important paragraph in the cover letter – this is where you get to illustrate all of the individual experiences that make you the best candidate for the job. We want to include your:
- Past internship and work experience
- Leadership experience in college clubs or activities
- Volunteer or community work
- Something unique
Lots of students look the same from a resume perspective, this paragraph of the cover letter is where your personality can come through. Outline the past internship and work experience you’ve had and how it has prepared you for an internship. Talk through leadership experiences you’ve had at school. Include something unique that might make you a good fit.
When closing your accounting internship cover letter, you’ll want to reference your attached resume, mention that you hope to be able to connect to discuss, and that you’re available for any additional information. Close with something professional like “sincerely” or “best regards.”
When you finish your cover letter, have a friend proofread it before you send it out. Make sure that your formatting looks good and that there are no spelling or grammatical errors.