How to write an effective speculative internship application?


Have you defined the sector of your dreams but cannot find any internship offer that suits you? You may not be able to find the perfect offer, but you can create it yourself! A speculative application shows your interest in a company. Your speculative application should stand out to show that you have the skills and the experience the company needs. However, a speculative application can be double-edged: sure, you have no direct competitor; however, you are here to create the need, so you must prove that you are exactly what the company needs. Discover how to convince the hiring manager of your qualities and how to appear as the ideal candidate!

1. Determine the companies or the organisations that interest you

A speculative internship is, as the term suggests, an application that comes from the student, and not from the company. Needless to say, if you write a speculative application, you have to be highly motivated to join the company. Like for an internship application that answers an offer, you have determined the sector that motivates you, the companies that interest you, and you have done your research about them. At this stage, two things are at stake:

  • For you: to have all the information you need to flesh out your application

  • For the hiring manager: to check your autonomy in the search and your motivation to join the company

Keep in mind that this is a major step in any hiring process. However, it is even more important in the case of a speculative application. Since you do not have a job description, it is up to you to find all the information about the company, to make them yours and to use them wisely in your application.

2. Prepare your CV

Think of your CV as a showcase for the hiring manager. Hence, your CV must be clear and legible. Here are the main parts you should have on your CV:

  • Training: as a student, the training part is often the longest one. However, do not spend too much time on it: your education attests to your skills, but also to those of every other student in your school. Briefly recall your background, especially if it has brought you technical or personal skills.

  • Professional experiences: if you are looking for an internship, it means you are still new to the workforce. And this is completely normal! So no need to go back to middle school or to invent experiences. On the contrary, even if you only have one experience, do not hesitate to elaborate on it. Show what it has brought you and how it has trained you.

  • Technical skills: these "hard skills" are the skills you acquired during your education. You can prove them with your diploma or by demonstrating them in your area of expertise. Unlike what you may think, technical skills are more of a prerequisite than a real asset to stand out for a job: it is normal for a translator to speak English, for an engineer to master CAD and for a trader to decipher market curves.

Hence, to support these "hard skills", you will need to prove your "soft skills". These skills are genuine human skills and, unlike hard skills, can't be proved by concrete evidence. Nevertheless, soft skills are still important, especially for speculative internships. For instance, the company may not be looking for a marketing assistant. However, your spirit of initiative, your enthusiasm and your interpersonal skills make you a crucial asset!

3. Write and personalise a cover letter

Your cover letter must not repeat what can be read on your CV. That may be tempting, but you must avoid it, especially for a speculative application! You are the offer: you must make it clear that the company interests you, why you suit the company and what position you are hoping for. To do so, you must respect some rules: a cover letter is a short text (one page long, about 20/25 lines), impactful and clearly structured.

  • You have done your research on the company. This is the occasion to show your knowledge of the sector! Highlight the specific points that motivated you to write your speculative internship.

  • Example: you spent time at student fairs and had the opportunity to talk directly to employees of the company. Not only did you choose this company among others from the same sector, but you made the effort to find a contact. Such prospection shows your motivation and gives you solid arguments.

  • You have a lot of things to bring to the company. As you have studied its field of action, you are able to explain how you can be a part of it! Emphasise on your technical and social skills associated with the position you are seeking.

    Example: you are part of an orchestra, and the company has a partnership with a musical event. Your expertise and your passion will be significant assets! Besides, being a musician in an orchestra entails being serious, available and good at team work. All of these are sought-after values in the professional world!

  • You create a job offer. Depending on your training and your schedule, you should be able to offer a duration that fits both the company and you.

    Example: Companies usually hire at the beginning of the quarter (October, January, April.) The education system does not quite follow the same schedule, however you must adapt to that of the company. Capitalise on students’ long summer break: a six-month internship from April to the end of September allows you to have finished your course and allows the company to train a newcomer in the medium term. And maybe this experience could lead to the company hiring you the following quarter!

4. Send your application email


CV and cover letter are ready - all that's left now is to send them. To do so, you will need a nice application email. Just like your documents need to help you stand out from the other candidates, the application email must catch the hiring manager's attention.
However, your email must not "spoil" the CV nor the cover letter. Here are our tips for an effective and persuasive email.

  • A clear and precise subject: "Speculative application for the position of..." is simple but direct, and clearly states the subject of your email.

  • Greetings: just like for an interview, remember that you are talking to actual people, and, what's more, people who may hire you. First of all, reach a specific person, not a department, and even less the company as a whole. Whether it is the hiring manager, the manager of the department that interests you or an employee directly, you must find a specific contact. Lastly, do not overdo politeness, be decent but not servile.

  • Start with: "Dear Sir or Madam,",

  • End with: "I am very grateful for your consideration of my application/ I look forward to hearing from you to discuss my application in greater detail/Yours sincerely."
  • A short introduction of your profile: in one sentence, introduce yourself and state clearly what you are looking for. You are here to show your motivation, so go for it! Make the hiring manager want to click on the attachments.

  • The attachments: an application email should be kept simple and short, so no, your CV and cover letter cannot be put directly in the email. These documents belong to the attachments. Pro tip: do not forget the attachments.

5. Send a follow-up email

Sending a speculative application is not sending a cry for help. You are not at the mercy of your contact within the company, but you should follow up your application regularly.After a week, do not hesitate to politely send a follow-up email to check that your application is in trustful hands. You are not begging for an answer, you are showing your motivation. Even if it does not persuade the hiring manager, at least you will have a contact!

6. Be careful of your e-reputation: social media is here to help

The Internet has been a great help to put together your speculative application; social media will be your best ally to make your profile shine! Nowadays, e-reputation is a crucial tool for hiring managers. First, update your LinkedIn account regularly: the hiring manager will start there. Moreover, for a speculative internship, think about following the LinkedIn account of the company before applying, or the accounts of some employees. This shows that you are already interested.
You may also want to follow pages linked to the company’s sector of activity, to gain more global insights and show that you know where to look. Finally, do not hesitate to interact with relevant content, like it, comment on it, share it... On the other hand, make sure that your personal accounts are private, and that only events that make you look more attractive can be found online.

7. Bonus: Template of an application email for a speculative internship

"Subject: Speculative application for a position as [job position]"

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am studying [your training], and I am contacting you to apply as [job position]. Currently at [name of your school/university], I am especially interested in [position field]. I would like to put my skills in [examples of skills] to good use by joining your team.

Please find attached my CV and cover letter,

[When you are available], I am looking forward to discussing my application with you.

Yours sincerely,

[Your full name + phone number]

8. Key takeaways

Now you are ready to try and send a speculative application. Sending a speculative application is a very effective way to persuade the employer that you are highly motivated, and it can open a few doors. Your mission: highlight your interest in the company and its field, as well as when you are available for such a position. From prospecting on social media to sending your application email, you must take care of each and every step of your application with dedication. Do not forget: no vacancy in a company does not mean the company is not in need! At Societe Generale, interns are always welcome.