[Guide] How to Cold Email for an Internship

Finding an internship can be difficult. Extremely difficult. It’s incredibly competitive, and it’s not helping that companies care more about cost-cutting than fostering a strong learning culture.

Most people think that if they go to a good university and have decent grades, an internship is given. That is not always true. Not to mention, a majority of students do not even meet these qualifications.

From personal experience, I’ve spoken to previous employers who have mentioned that they usually get hundreds of applications, and a majority of them would have similar experiences and qualifications. So how exactly do we separate ourselves from other candidates?

Well, just like the title of this article, we can increase our luck with cold emailing.

Why is a Cold Email for an Internship so Effective?

Cold emailing for an internship is beneficial if done correctly. It shows you have various traits that only great employees or high-performers would have, which include:

1. Demonstrating Your Desire For The Job

A cold email sets you aside from most of the competition because it shows you want the job. Why is this important?

In most interviews, a few of the most common questions asked are, “Why do you want this role?” or “Why do you want to work for us?”

Most people want to work with someone who wants to be there, so showing some hustle confirms you wish to be there. Think about it from the other perspective. Would you enjoy working with an employee who doesn’t want to be there?

2. Self-Starter

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Having the initiative to be bold and reach out amidst uncertainty shows that you are a self-starter, essential in the workplace. Most employees follow the role’s responsibilities but finding a proactive employee is a considerable asset.

For instance, maybe there’s a task that takes 2 hours to do. A proactive employee would perhaps research how they can increase a better way to do that task and reduce the time it takes.

3. Relationship-Building

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One of the basics of relationship-building is communication. Knowing how to send a simple email already shows you can reach out to people and achieve your goals.

Most people take it for granted, but knowing how to send a concise and straightforward email with clear intentions is quite tricky for some. I have read numerous emails from people with irrelevant subject lines, bad grammar, or just overly wordy.

How to Cold Email for an Internship?

To answer this question, I have a six-step process. I’ll walk you through as if I was applying for this role (Data Science Internship).

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1. Find the company or the role you want to target.

Based on the job description above, we can take two critical pieces of information from the job description.

This step is essential in helping us narrow down to people we can contact at the firm. We want to look for someone from the Data Science team At LeapGrad Corp. living in Toronto.

2. Narrow down to the email of the person you want to contact.

We can search people on LinkedIn to help us curate a list of people to contact.

The best tool to use is LinkedIn, as many professionals are on this site, and it has a vast database of individuals.

See below for my search query, which gave me a list of five people. However, it’s not very helpful as it doesn’t seem like any of these individuals are a part of the data science team. This is most likely due to the team being extremely small since this is a startup.

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I expanded the search to check across Canada, and I found one person on the data science team. It seems like he is a Data Scientist working for LeapGrad in Montreal. I typically like to look at the individual’s profile to get some background for my cold email.

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3. Finding their email address.

The easy way to connect with our individual is to connect to them on LinkedIn and then send a cold LinkedIn message, which I will recommend.

However, an alternative method is to use tools like an Email Address Verifier or RocketReach to search for your individual’s email.

Either method works, but I prefer the easy way. I’ve also found email addresses from when I work at the same firm as an individual, which is a bit of a warmer outreach.

4. Send the cold email.

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Before we get into the cold email, the email’s objective is not to directly ask for an internship. Instead, we want to connect with the individual and learn more about the culture and role.

We must establish a connection before we make our ask. Some individuals would prefer to ask for an internship directly; however, I have always found getting to know someone before asking for anything has helped me.

Having sent dozens of cold emails, I find the subject line “Quick Question” works well for me, but another subject line you can use is “Ambitious Student Interested in Data Science”.

Subject: Quick Question

Email:

Dear _______,

I am a Fourth Year Undergrad at the University of Toronto, and I am incredibly passionate about Data Science.

I recently came across your LinkedIn profile, and I was impressed with your educational background in Computer Science and Physics to transition to working as a Data Scientist at LeapGrad.


If you have time sometime this week, I would appreciate a 20-minute call to learn more about your experience at LeapGrad. If not, no worries!

Thanks,
Name

In the opening line, I introduce myself first because I’m sure our reader will want to know who we are in the first place.

Secondly, we connect with him by creating relevancy with our intent to contact him and his background. Also, it shows we at least did some research into who he is.

Finally, we have our call to action to meet sometime this week.

This email is short and sweet and gets to the point.

Bonus Tip: You can go into a bit more detail about why you’re passionate about data science – perhaps you have a class project you can briefly mention?

5. Patience

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Now we wait…

You’ve already done the hard part – shooting your shot. If it works out, it works out. You can follow up if you want, but I find this is also a great way to filter out people you want to work with in the future.

People who are genuinely sincere and friendly will want to help you and will most definitely reply.

6. Making Your Move

Once you set your phone call with your contact, it’s a perfect time to tell your story and get them on board with why you would be an ideal fit for the company and hear his story and see if it’s a company you want to work with.

You don’t need to be too in-depth, but you can if you want, depending on how you feel the conversation is going!

To end the conversation, you must ask for the next steps: “I’ve really appreciated this conversation and insights into your career. I’m just wondering, do you have any tips for someone like me looking to join your firm or be in a role like this.”

This ask isn’t too direct, and it won’t make your contact feel obliged to have to help you. However, if they’ve enjoyed the conversation and like you, they’ll most likely help you.

Conclusion

In a world of competitive opportunities, being bold, and putting yourself out there is essential. Don’t be afraid to ask for the next steps because what’s the worst-case scenario? Maybe an awkward conversation you won’t remember five years from now or no reply, but the potential upsides outweigh the risks of not sending that cold email. So send a cold email today.

Author

  • syao scaled

    Stephen Yao is a writer, ex-Deloitte financial engineer with expertise in the life insurance, pension, and capital markets industry. He lives in Toronto, Ontario, and writes about personal finance and career fulfillment.

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