As you might have seen in part one, not all internships are advertised. A speculative application can shine a light on opportunities that you wouldn’t normally see. Being speculative refers to a questioning curiosity, so rather than waiting for a vacancy, you’re actively using your curiosity to find a company and ask them for a position. Once you know where your application is going, read on for tips to write a short but powerful opening email.
Before you start
Resolve to write no more than half an A4 page and reduce clicks. Clicks rely on the motivation of the reader so keep it easy and have your “cover letter” in the body of the email. This is particularly applicable to speculative applications because you’re giving the employer something extra to do. All you need to attach is your CV.
However, if speculative applications are normal for your field/sector, like in architecture, then write a full length A4 cover letter and attach it to the email. If you’re not sure, then it would be worth checking with a lecturer in your department!
Address it to someone
Research who is the best person to write to. You could use LinkedIn, Companies House, or even use Bath Connection to ask a Bath alumnus who might already work there. You could CC in a couple of people but not too many or it might look like spam. If more than 3, consider sending separate emails. If you don’t have a name, which is very common, then ‘dear sir/madam’ is perfectly acceptable.
Put them before you
We recommend putting motivation first. Make them feel special like their company is the only one you’re contacting. Put some research into it. Scour their website, check out GlassDoor, make sure you’re up to date with them in the news. The idea is to show you know their company and this will give your application that personal touch. For more inspiration, this resource on My Future suggests ideas you could include here.
Show them that taking you on will be mutually beneficial. Have a small paragraph on your skills and link it to the organisation. Say why you think your skills will be useful to them. Even better, say how your skills have helped other companies or projects. Having the skills is one thing but being good at what you do is another.
They’re not expecting you so make your purpose known. Give them a timescale but if you’re flexible, tell them that as well. The idea is to be open but not too general. Make sure they know you’re looking for an internship, your areas of interest, and when you’re available to start.
Call to action
Outline the next steps. Make it something concrete like scheduling a conversation. A small but specific call to action can go a long way in increasing their motivation to respond.
Check out page 35 of our Application, CV and cover letter guide for extra tips and examples of what your speculative email might look like!