Please be sure to create your own message, in your own words. Don’t simply copy the following text. Think about it from the reader’s perspective: if they get twenty cover emails that look exactly alike, they will trash all twenty. Be yourself. Be unique.
When crafting your cover email, don’t repeat anything that they can find easily elsewhere, like at the top of your email, or in your resume (which you will attach!). There is no need to start your email with, “My name is Jane Doe, and I am a student at Claremont McKenna College…” Get to the heart of the matter; it is not considered rude.
Also, please avoid the passive voice. You were not referred by Andrew Ceperley (passive). Andrew Ceperley referred you (active).
Here’s a sample letter for you to consider (but not copy verbatim) as you craft your letter:
Dear Ms. Smith: [Use a colon, not a comma.] [Use Ms. or Mr. and avoid Mrs. or Miss.] [Some people omit this from an email, and it is OK to do so.]
Introductory Paragraph: Why are you writing? Who referred you (if anyone)? How did you learn about the opportunity? Is there a specific job description that interests you (list by name / department / number)? For example: “Andrew Ceperley, Director of the Silicon Valley Program at Claremont McKenna College, suggested that I contact you concerning a possible internship opportunity during the Fall 2015 semester. My interest in product development aligns with the focus of ABC Corp, and I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you more about this in the coming days."
Body of Email: Express your knowledge of the organization and your ability to perform the boy or work in the company. Highlight the parts of your background that relate to this employer / position. For example: “Recently, I completed a class on data structures and program development which would allow me to put theory to action. I am eager to apply this knowledge to the storage and data reclamation issues the ABC Corp is working to solve for its customers. I have attached my resume, which paints a clear picture of my talents and interests.”
Call to Action: State what you expect from this communication. For example: “May we schedule a brief phone call to discuss a fall semester internship at ABC Corp? I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your consideration of this request.”
[The “Sincerely” is also considered to be “old school” and is not absolutely needed. The address block is very important. Also, if you can add a stylized “signature” or a scanned version of your signature, that is a nice touch.]