Dear interns… this is why you’re not getting hired

I get quite a few unsolicited internship applications, in my capacity as a writer and relating to the rugby academy I volunteer at. For many interns, getting practical experience is part of their curriculum. After all, employers seemingly want you to magic three years’ worth of experience fresh out of studying.

We’ve all been there: trying to convince somebody to give us a job, even if we are lacking in some areas where expertise is required.

Some have the gift of the gab and can fluke their way through, others might spend their entire practical year wondering why they are not getting hired.

For those, there might be reasons for it. I have noted with concern that the bulk of the e-mails I get are ghastly concoctions of generic fluff. Now, I know that most universities seemingly don’t teach CV or cover-writing, so I am here to help. You aren’t getting an internship because…

  • Your cover letter sucks: your cover letter is everything? You have a few short paragraphs to impress a prospective employer so does it well? Most people sifting through applications are too busy to even look at your CV, so make your cover letter count. And please, never, ever, ever attach a generic cover letter as a Word Doc, unless instructed to do so. Ditch the generic junk and write a personalized cover letter to the companies you are applying to.


  • You don’t address me by my name: Granted, the name of the person you are looking for is not always freely available, but if you are sending an application to an e-mail address that has my name in it, I pretty damn well expect you to use it.  Even if you are sending an e-mail to a generic address like “Editor”, take your time to browse and try and find some sort of name you can address your application to. This not only shows that you are industrious; it also shows that you aren’t just spamming people with generic emails.


  • You don’t tell me anything about my company: you would really like to work for my company, would you? Well, how about you come around and come make me coffee for a whole week. Didn’t expect that, did ya? If you are applying to a position be sure to note something you like about the company, do your research. Make sure you know what the company does exactly. Again, this shows prospective employers that in-between firing out generic emails (which we know you are doing), you are actually taking an interest in the kind of work you might be doing if we hire you. It also shows that you are actually applying of internships that might be applicable to your future career instead of just doing something because it is part of your curriculum.


  • You don’t tell me what you actually want to do on your internship Great, you’re studying for something. But in this day and age, people very rarely end up in a role that they studied for (clever people like doctors excluded, obviously). Internship roles can be incredibly varied and many prospective employers are willing to make a plan if you tell them why you are kick ass and how you can help them grow. By no means does this suggest you dictate to your future employer, but it gives the person some kind of idea how you might fit in. Sometimes, even if people weren’t planning on hiring an intern, they might be persuaded by somebody with enough gusto to tell them how they’ll be awesome.


  • You use text speak: Delete email, immediately.


  • You have the personality of a door knob: Yes, yes, really being “you” in text is difficult. But if you come across as boring and drab then I’m most likely going to ignore you. We’re not asking you to tell us that you like riding horses or walking around the mall for hours, just asking that you reveal a little of what you’re like in a professional situation. Share your ideas, your thoughts, be cheeky, even. Just do something so that we don’t think you are an SEO robot spamming people with junk.


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