1. Overview

Cold email and its importance

Cold email, as suggested in the phrase itself, is not so warmingly welcomed by the majority of recipients. It’s an email sent to someone without previous interaction, even having no connections in mutual, to ask for a favor. 

Junior students who are new to cold emailing for an internship usually find it struggling and awkward to send direct job inquiries to strangers, and often receive very few responses. However, if done right, cold emails can bring you a big leap ahead of your peers: expanded network at targeted firms, valuable insights, interview referrals, even a friend/mentor for life if you’re able to maintain the relationship afterwards. 

Now the question boils down to how to write such a compelling cold email that’s worth these busy professionals’ time. Let us provide you the answer:

2. How to Cold Email for A Job – Don’t just jump into writing!

Before getting down to typing emails and filling in addresses, you need to start first with the mindset of a successful job hunter. Preparing yourself with the right mentality, as well as having the best tools to assist in finding and tracking leads are the very first steps you should take. Neatly organize every piece of information, and you’ll find the time-consuming cold emailing process a little more durable and enjoyable.

2.1 The right mindset

It’s the game of quantity

Cold emailing is going to be a long road that takes up lots of time and patience. In fact, in a competitive job market like Wall Street, just 20-30% of response rate and 5-10% of conversion rate are already impressive numbers that we are shooting for. In other words, if you’re targeting 5 experts, you’re expecting at least a hundred of emails to be sent.

Don’t get too caught up on one lead: Don’t get too upset by a reject, you’re going to receive one after another, or more often than not, you’ll even get no responses despite follow-up emails and phone calls. That’s the recipient’s signaling “I’m not interested” – and you might want to give it up on that contact. Don’t let that get you down and keep on the next target.

3.2. The concise Body (How to ask for an Internship?)

We’re coming to the essence of your cold email: the body. It should not be longer than 3-4 short paragraphs; it should not be a tiring brag about your (not interesting) life; it should not sound any pushy or arrogant. 

It should show enough of 1. your interest in the recipient/their company, 2. your expertise and credibility in the industry at hand, and 3. attitude, and at the same time, be short and crisp.

How? Here’s a safe cold emailing formula for you to apply:

But don’t give up too soon, too: To get the recipient to respond, here’s the full process you have to go through: 

  1. Send the initial email (to state your request), 
  2. make a call after a week, if there’s no response (to make sure they have received the mail), 
  3. a follow-up email (to remind about the call, and informing next steps)
  4. (it might vary for each case scenario though, here’s just an example

Besides acting as a reminder for professionals to reply to your request, follow-up emails also demonstrate your persistence and desire to learn more about the person / the company. So you want to be patient writing these.

2.2 Finding prospective leads

Finding the perfect lead is hard, yet there are tips to choose promising ones. The more connected the recipients feel with you, the more likely they will consider your request.

Connections can be strengthened on common grounds of… 

  • going to the same school, 
  • working for the same organization, 
  • living in the same area, or 
  • having common interests.

The number one supportive leads are probably Alumni connections. The sense of school community makes it traditional that seniors should give a hand to juniors with their job application. Pay close attention to your school Alumni database, search by your target firms’ names to see if there are results. Even if there are not any alum in your target company, you could still ask them for general career advice. Bet that they’re more willing to help bright juniors – they’ve been in the exact position like yours.

BBBThe second most effective source of professionals is LinkedIn. Start by searching for keywords of your target industry or company, let’s say “Venture Capital” or “Bridgewater Associates”, and then use LinkedIn’s advanced filters to choose people with the criteria you are looking for. These criteria include School, Position, Industry,… 

Next up, if your recipient’s email address is not already available, use Google, professional email searcher tools like hunter.io, or make a guess if you know his company’s standard email format (e.g. name@company.com).

2.3 Make a spreadsheet for tracking

You’re expecting tons of contacts to keep track with, and so having a nicely formatted tracking sheet is necessary to timely update this extended process. 

What to put on the spreadsheet?

Cold email for internship

Contacts’ information: 

      • Personal information: First name, last name, special interest/hobby
      • Professional information: industry, company, expertise, position
      • Contacts: phone number, email, contact point (how you know him?)

Updated outreach progress:

      • Recommended process: First email, Second email, Cold call, Third email (if phone response is positive)
      • Track their responses: positive or negative, quick note

3. How to cold email – Get down to writing

Here’s the rules of a successful cold email:

  • Be concise: 

Your email is just another add-up to the peak of professional emails they have to scan through everyday. A piece of information longer than 200 words likely to demotivate them to read on. Be concise and to-the-point!

**short: 1-2 sentences for follow-up

**long: 6-8 sentences for initial drop 

  • Be customized:

Before hitting “Send”, ask yourself “Can I send this exact same email to anyone else?”. People don’t like mass emails, they want a personal connection strong enough for them to spend their extra precious minutes to read a request from a stranger. Say something unique about them that you want to know more, create a personal connection with them on common grounds that you’ve researched. 

  • State your request clearly:

Be absolutely specific about the request you want to ask. Don’t be as generic as “I need your help to break into hedge funds”, state it clearly how he/she can help you, specify the recommended date and time also. In other words, let them fully acknowledge the next steps in just one email, is it to receive a call from you?; is it to go to a cafe for an informational interview?… don’t wait for another email to ask this.

3.1. The catchy Cold Email Subject line (Networking Email Subject Line)

The duty of the subject line is to intrigue the recipient, making them curious enough to open the mail. It is the first impression you make – you want to prove that you’re a neat and tidy professional, rather than a spammer. 

Healthcare network

Making it outstandingly interesting is one way, but one hard and risky way that could make your email sound like a “click-bait”. Instead, we provide some tips to craft a practically appealing subject line here: 

  • Be short and structured

Make sure it’s short enough to be able to read fully even on smartphone devices (25-30 characters: 6 to 8 words). Use special characters: ( ) – | : [ ] to separate different parts of your content, making it easier and more structured to read. 

e.g. Oxford Student – Goldman Sachs Internships

  • State your value proposition

If you have experience in prestigious universities or institutions, this is where you use it to brand yourself. It’s efficient, and in case you’re emailing an alumnus, you’ve even scored one with this proudly common trait. 

e.g. “Fellow Stanford alum – aspiring NY Investment banks”

  • Make it personal

By including their name, a special insight about them, or ask them a relevant advice right at the title, the recipient would likely be motivated to open this email EXCLUSIVELY sent to them

e.g. Mr. Brown recommended I reach out

Pro tip: If possible, raise a question or open a discussion upon a topic in the recipient’s expert field. 

e.g. Do you see opportunities after Ant’s IPO like I do?

  • Give them a strong “why?”

In case you’re emailing for a current job opening, you’d like to directly give a strong “why me?” by stating some values you can bring to the table. 

e.g. Data Analyst with Modeling expertise interested in joining the team

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I want to know more!

3.2. The concise Body (How to ask for an Internship?)

We’re coming to the essence of your cold email: the body. It should not be longer than 3-4 short paragraphs; it should not be a tiring brag about your (not interesting) life; it should not sound any pushy or arrogant. 

It should show enough of 1. your interest in the recipient/their company, 2. your expertise and credibility in the industry at hand, and 3. attitude, and at the same time, be short and crisp.

How? Here’s a safe cold emailing formula for you to apply:

3.2.1. A one-or-two-sentence introduction:

Get their attention by a brief and straightforward introduction of yourself. Tactics for this should be either stating your value proposition (“hmm, Ivy League student, potential!”), or drawing connections (“hmm, let see how can I help this favorite student of my former Professor…”). You can even slightly touch on WHY you’re sending the email. 

Dear [Name],

I’m Darwin, a ‘22 grad from BYU. I was recommended by professor Jefferey to connect to you for career advice in Bulge Brackets.

Dear [Name],

I’m Neumann, a ‘22 grad from BYU, a few years after your cohort. It’s intriguing to find out your publications about Game Theory, a topic of my interest – one that I’d love to discuss with you more about its application in Finance.

3.2.2. A short paragraph

Tell them briefly about your professional experience / current career status, and an overview of how they can help you. 

During the time at PwC working with Banking clients, I have developed an interest in building innovative financial models and frameworks. As I am planning this transition from PwC to an Investment Bank, I need advice from a senior who actually walked down the path like you.

I recently applied for the Summer Analyst position at your firm. I am writing to follow-up with you because I have not yet heard back about my application status. Your firm is my first choice, so I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to interview with your team.

3.2.3. A call to action

Now, the time has come: State what you need them to do! Specifically! 

What can they help you with (do you want a referral, a phone call or meeting?) When do you suggest the recipient take action (on which specific day, at what time?)…

Rather than making a pushy, imperative, presumptuous requiry, please bring that up as a gentle ask: keep a grateful tone, and prioritise the recipient’s schedule over yours.

Would you be free for a quick 10-minute phone call any day of the upcoming week, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST? I hope you could let me know when you’re available, I truly hope to schedule some precious time to hear about your journey in the Banking industry.

3.2.4. Attaching resume

In some cases, like 1. when you need to add credibility for the recipient to take you seriously, or 2. you’re urgently applying for a job opening, and willing to be more up front, you might want to attach your resume. A polished resume might even be the first thing they notice in your email, a quick attention-getter if done right, so consider that to boost your credibility. 

Leave a short note  to notify them before ending the email:

o, I’ve attached my resume below for easy reference. Please consider and may I thank you in advance.

Also, I’ve attached my resume with this email. I would greatly appreciate any advice you have on refining my resume for better opportunities in hedge funds. 

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I want to know more!

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Hope you won’t have to struggle writing emails anymore with our guide breaking it down line-by-line. Examples above can work as reference for you to craft your own cold email for job opportunities. Also, I’d love to offer suggestions and corrections if you don’t mind leaving your draft email in the comment section.