Many of you have found me online or have been sent my way by someone who knows me to try to offer some guidance for breaking into the animation industry. This includes snagging an internship. Recently, a student who is in this very position has been sent my way by one of her professors who I just worked with on a show. She sent me her portfolio, cover letter, resume and asked for any help at all. I love people like this because these are the ones who will go far. Anyway, here are a few little tidbits I gave her already just based on her cover letter. Some of you could use this as well, but not all will use the advice..
The first thing is, make sure to do your research. Don't start out this very important letter as "dear recruiter". That's not his/her name. Find out who the recruiter is, and address the letter properly. This will get you much further in your pursuit and put you ahead of other people who didn't care to take the time for something so simple, but very powerful. Think about it: if you had to choose a few people to hire for your business out of HUNDREDS of applications, which would you throw out right away? Probably the ones who seem to not care very much.
Also, sort of on the same note, do your research and find out what the internship is all about. For example, a union studio is much different than a non-union studio. Interning at Titmouse will be a much different experience than interning at Nickelodeon. Do you know anything about Nickelodeon's internship? Have you looked it up online? Don't applying for something that doesn't exist — meaning if the internships is for production positions ONLY, do not apply for artistic positions! Your application will end up in the trash faster than it took you to write your cover letter. (**Side note: this is an excellent way of being transparent in your laziness. It will be painfully obvious you wrote one letter for multiple studios and just changed the studio name on each letter.)
The good news is, these two suggestions that I mentioned go together because probably all of this info is on one page of a website. AND, if you wanna be really stellar at networking, you could even email the recruiter to ask more questions. That will REALLY show you care and that you put time and effort into something you really want. This will put you far ahead of many people competing for the same position. When you go to apply, there is a better chance of being recognized or remembered, which will improve your chances for success.
The last suggestion is to add a little bit to your letter so it feels more specific to the studio in which you are applying. You want to make them feel like you want that internship more than anything. Don't simply say that though. No one likes brown-nosing. The way to do it, though, is to make your letter feel like you're writing it to THEM, rather than "Dreamworks" could be taken out and substituted with any other studio name. Maybe it's not a huge deal, but I know that when they look through hundreds of applications, they'd rather choose you, who Disney (or whatever studio), specifically means something to you rather than being "just another internship".
Hope this helps!