If you dream about studying or completing an internship in a foreign country, learning how to draft a great motivation letter can help make that happen. A well-written motivation letter may make the difference when hiring and admissions managers are comparing submitted applications and deciding who to invite to their program. For those wanting to study or work internationally, the motivation letter is a chance to explain not only why you are qualified for the program, but why the chance to study or intern abroad is important to you.

What is a Motivation Letter?

First, let’s define what a motivation letter is and why you should use it. Sometimes called a “statement of purpose,” a motivation letter is a document you send with your application and other supporting documents to a particular academic program, internship, or volunteer opportunity.

It provides detailed information about your academic or professional skills and your reasons for applying for that opportunity. For students seeking international study programs or internships, the motivation letter is their chance to explain not only why they are a good fit for the program, but why they want to study abroad.

6 Details to Include in Your Motivational Letter for an International Internship

When you’re in the process of preparing your motivation letter, sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Considering what is most important to include in your letter can help give you the inspiration you need. For example, there are some details you should always include in a motivation letter, such as information about why you are qualified for the internship or study program. However, when applying for an international internship, the motivation letter is the perfect place for you to explain why your goal is to study or work abroad as well.

Here are six details you should include in your motivation letter:

1. Reasons Why You Want to Study Abroad

The question of why you are hoping to study internationally instead of in your home country is one of the most important to consider when applying for an internship abroad. When deciding what to say, try to focus on positive reasons why you want to visit a new country, not reasons why you want to leave your home country. This is your opportunity to talk about your interest in the history, language, or culture of the country you wish to travel to. You could also discuss the reasons why you are interested in working in a group of international students.

2. Your Experience with International Travel or Other Cultures

Even though internships abroad offer many wonderful experiences and opportunities, there are also challenges associated with living in a new culture and speaking a different language for an extended period. Though companies and universities don’t expect all applicants to have extensive international travel experience, it helps to show that you are mature and confident enough to meet these challenges. Talking about your love of learning about new cultures or the research you have done about the country you wish to travel to reassures admissions and hiring managers that you will be able to handle the rigors of an international program.

3. Academic and Professional Information

The motivation letter is where you can talk about why your academic or professional accomplishments make you well-qualified for the program you want. You will send the motivation letter with your resume and transcript, so don’t focus too much on grades or specific courses. Instead, try to find a way to show how your educational and professional backgrounds fulfill the requirements for the program.

4. Unique Information about Yourself

The admissions and hiring managers reviewing your application are probably reviewing many other applications as well. Including unique information about yourself makes your application stand out and makes it more likely that they will remember you when they are making their decisions. When thinking about what to say, consider something unique that is also relevant to the program or setting. For example, if the program takes place in an area known for its natural beauty, you could mention your experience in hiking or photography.

5. Details about the Company or Academic Institution

Make sure you’ve done your homework and studied the company or university you are applying to well. Knowing details about the organization and program demonstrates your sincere interest and impresses decision-makers. For example, you could mention your interest in a specific product or project at a company that made you want to apply to work with them.

6. Why You Are Applying

The motivation letter is an opportunity to explain why you think admission to the program or internship is the best way for you to gain the desired knowledge or experience. Internships are a great way to gain hands-on work skills, acquaint yourself with a particular company’s workforce, and network with professionals in your chosen field. Focus on some of these reasons in your motivation letter to show that you’ve thought through how this internship will help you achieve your career goals.

Preparing to Write Your Motivation Letter

Once you’re finally ready to write your motivation letter, it’s important to stay organized. Following a method such as the one detailed below can help you create a well-drafted letter:

  • Write an outline for your motivation letter after considering the tips above.
  • Write the introduction to your motivation letter.
  • Using the outline, expand on your ideas to create the body of the motivation letter.
  • Write a conclusion to your motivation letter.
  • Proofread your motivation letter.

Before you start writing, be sure that you are following any relevant guidelines from the organization you are applying to. Guidelines may lay out certain requirements for things like format, length, font size, and font type.  If the organization does not provide details, keep your letter around one page long and select a widely-used font such as Times New Roman in 12-point to ensure the readability of your text.

Drafting the Motivational Letter

Give yourself plenty of time to draft your letter and use your outline to stay organized. If you get stuck, check out the drafting tips below for inspiration.

1. Starting the Motivational Letter

To get started, briefly introduce yourself and your background. If you can address the recipient by name to show your attention to detail and add a personal touch. Mention something interesting about yourself or something you have accomplished in this section to encourage the recipient to keep reading.

2. Developing the Body of the Motivation Letter

Go back to the outline you created based on the six details to include in your motivation discussed above in this article. Walk the recipient through your background, qualifications, and reasons for selecting the program, making sure to include specific information about why you want to study abroad.

3. Concluding the Motivation Letter

End your motivation letter on a positive note by reiterating your goal to be accepted to the program. Be sure to thank the recipient for the opportunity to apply to the program and let them know to contact you with any questions or to request further information.

4. Proofreading the Motivation Letter

Once you are done with the letter, set it aside for a while and review it with fresh eyes. First, eliminate any grammatical and spelling errors or awkward phrases. Next, review the letter to make sure your tone and word choices are professional in style. Compare the letter to your outline to ensure that you included all important details and that you did not duplicate information already in your resume or other application documents.

If you can, ask a friend or family member to help you proofread your letter. An objective pair of eyes can often catch things you may miss otherwise. When applying to an international program, you may not be writing the letter in your native language. Consider asking an experienced speaker of the language your letter is in for help with the proofreading step to make sure your letter makes the right impression.

Get Help from Intrax

Do you need help finding or applying to the right international program? With more than 30 years of experience in student placements, we have award-winning cultural exchange programs. We connect candidates all around the world with internships in the U.S. and major economic centers worldwide.

We also provide the software and support exchange visitors need during the complex visa application process. During the program, we provide on-going support to ensure the well-being of our exchange visitors and to help comply with government requirements.

Learn more about our program and how we can help you find the perfect internship opportunity.


Aug 1, 2020
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