Why should you send a thank you letter after your internship?

Sounds pretty obvious. But first realise that the hunt for a great internship has a lot of moving parts. You’ve got to write a resume, tailor it to each position, and potentially prep for multiple rounds of interviews.

But even if you aced that interview, you’re not quite done yet. Sending a thank you note is a great way to leave a lasting impact on the hiring manager before they make their final decision. Follow these tips to crafting the perfect thank you letter for that internship you’re gunning for.

Sending a thank you note is an opportunity to showcase your communication skills and professionalism. “A thank you note closes the professional loop. You just had this conversation with a person who has taken time out of their day to meet with you; it’s important to acknowledge that,” says Jill Panté, director of the University of Delaware’s Lerner Career Services Center.

Panté always encourages her students to write a thank you note. “It can’t hurt, especially if you really want the job,” she says. “It doesn’t take that long to write one, and throughout my career serving on search committees and working with recruiters I’ve found that even if a thank you note isn’t required or expected, it is noted when one is and isn’t sent.”

Don’t let the word “letter” throw you off: An email thank you is perfectly acceptable, and in fact in most cases is the best option. Sending it this way ensures it doesn’t get lost and that it reaches the right person immediately. “Decisions are made rather quickly, so by the time you write a letter and drop it in the mail you may have missed your opportunity,” Panté explains. “I always suggest sending an email within 12-24 hours of your interview.”

If you interviewed with multiple people, Panté suggests sending them each a personal email. And if you don’t already have their email address, take the initiative to get it. “You could ask for each person’s business card, see if they’re listed online, or even ask if it’d be okay to connect with them via LinkedIn at the end of your interview,” says Panté.

A great thank you letter doesn’t have to be long or complex. Panté suggests keeping it concise and making sure your letter has four main components.

1. Address the Interviewer by Name
Starting off your email with something like “Hey there” is definitely too informal, and even a simple “Good morning” can give the impression that you weren’t paying attention to who you were talking to. So greet the person with “Hi/Hello/Dear…” followed by their name—when in doubt, use Mr./Ms. with the person’s last name. And this should go without saying, but triple check that you spelled it correctly!

2. Actually Say Thank You
Hiring managers are inundated with email. This matters for thank you letters, because more than anything, you want that hiring manager to know that you are appreciative of the time they took to interview you. So begin your note by politely thanking the person for their time. If they remember nothing else from your letter, that message should come through.

3. Get Specific
Chances are the interviewer has spoken to quite a few candidates, so zeroing in on something specific from your interview can help reinforce their memory of you—plus it shows that you were paying attention to the conversation.

Did you learn something new about the company you didn’t know before? Was there a particular need the interviewer mentioned that you’d be able to help fill? Or maybe you and the hiring manager connected over something more personal, like a shared love of a television show. Whatever it is, mention it briefly in your letter.

4. Highlight Your Skill Set and Reiterate Your Interest
Don’t overthink this part of the letter. By the time you sit down to write, you (hopefully!) have already wowed them in your interview with what you hope to bring to their organization. So your email should simply be a reminder more than anything else. A quick sentence restating what you’ve done previously that will serve you well in this position will suffice. Remember, because this is an internship, you typically won’t be expected to have significant work experience, so your relevant experience could include something you’ve done as part of a school club or organization, a project for a class, or even something like a waitressing job.

You’ll also want to mention why you’re excited about the potential of joining the organization. (Note: Stick to the work you’d be doing and the strengths of the company, not fun perks like free snacks and game nights.) Lastly, sign off in a way that shows you were listening to what was said about next steps. If the hiring manager said they’d follow up in less than a week, mention that.

It’s a simple touch that helps you to hopefully close the deal.

Check out my related post: What am I doing with my life?

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