The good thing about searching for an internship: no one expects you to have decades of experience in the field. The tougher part: you’re still looking to get that foot in the door, so you don’t yet have tons of related experience. So how do you square that for your resume, and make sure that you’re putting up the resume that will get you hired as an intern?
Let’s start by looking at what not to do. Kaitlyn is a junior in college, looking to get an internship for the summer.
63 University Place, Apt. 2C
Storrs, CT 99999
Objective: I am seeking an internship that will allow me to build experience.
UConn Dining Services
Food Service Worker (Work-Study)
- Serve food in Sprague Hall.
- Clear tables, and clean kitchen areas before and after dinner service.
- Handle payment for meals (HuskyCard swipes, cash)
Harbaugh Dental Services
- Answer the phone and greet patients
- Schedule appointments
- Prepare patient files for the dentists and hygienists
- File and maintain patient records as needed
- Served ice cream to customers
- Cleaned and maintained the food prep and serving areas
- Processed payment for customers (cash and credit)
- Made and decorated ice cream cakes
- Social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook)
- Graphic design
- Working with people
University of Connecticut, Storrs
Current GPA: 3.2/4
First, the good: Kaitlyn’s resume is short, which an internship resume should be (one page, max). The not-so-good: Kaitlyn’s resume is unfocused and unspecific, and it’s missing key information. A good internship resume is tailored specifically for the job you want. That means vague statements like, “I am seeking an internship that will allow me to build experience,” are not a good idea. Generic statements tell the hiring manager two things:
1. The applicant is using a one-size-fits-all resume, and probably sending it everywhere.
2. The applicant hasn’t put time and energy into this particular application.
With those two factors, it’s likely the person reading the resume will glaze right over Kaitlyn’s resume, and move on to the next resume. The next problematic element is her experience: she’s missing dates, so it’s impossible to know whether she’s listing her jobs chronologically, or by relevance. The jobs are also kind of all over the place—Kaitlyn has worked in food service, and as a receptionist at a dental office. Are any of those jobs or skills relevant to the job she’s applying for? It’s difficult to tell, because her resume has been so generic up to this point. It’s important to shape the experience and skills in your resume around the job you want, making sure to highlight your most relevant experience.
Kaitlyn also unwittingly sets off some alarm bells with her resume. Her email address is clearly a personal one—she’d be much better off either using her school email address, or creating one that’s based on her name. She also lists her top skill as “social media.” If that’s not directly related to the internship she’s applying for, and she’s talking about her personal accounts, she just opened up the possibility of having her personal Twitter and Facebook mined by the reader. This may not be a problem (and realistically, it might happen anyway as part of the hiring process), but it’s something that Kaitlyn should be careful of in her resume.
Let’s look at Jeff, who’s applying for an internship in his local state senator’s office.
76 Van Pelt Street, Apt. 4
Boston, MA 88888
Dynamic Political Science Major Targeting Experience-Building Opportunities As Part of Senator Coughlin’s Team
Current Dean’s List student (3.9 GPA) motivated to learn the ropes in a community-oriented legislative office. Fast learner and a hard worker with a special interest in legislative process and protocols.
Software: Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, VisualStudio, Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver MX, Flash MX, Oracle
Languages: Fluent in Spanish, proficient in German
Communication: Presenting, public speaking, proofreading and editing
Hawthorne College, Boston, MA
Anticipated graduation: 2017
Major: Political Science
Minors: English, History
Awards/honors: Honors program, Dean’s List (8 semesters), Student Volunteer Award (2015)
Leominster City Hall Registrar’s Office Leominster, MA
Records Assistant 2014-2015 (summers)
As a seasonal summer employee while attending school, worked with the City Registrar to organize and maintain local records.
- Processed marriage, birth, and death records
- Helped the Registrar staff overhaul their filing system, and implement an innovative digital filing system
- Managed office supply inventory and ordering
- Coordinated social media accounts for the Registrar’s office, sending out planned messaging approved by staff
City Cornucopia Boston, MA
Volunteer 2012 - present
- Deliver meals to homebound people, as well as managing distribution and food service at City Cornucopia
- Organized Twitter outreach campaign to supplement fundraising efforts
Rockin’ Readers Boston, MA
Volunteer Reader 2014 – present
- Weekly reading sessions with a third-grade classroom at Chester Elementary School to encourage reading and developing strong academic skills.
- Select age-appropriate reading for kids at the third grade level
- Interact with kids to make reading a fun and productive part of their school day
Jeff’s resume is a good one for his internship aspirations: like Kaitlyn’s, it’s short and sweet. Unlike Kaitlyn’s, it’s very focused. Jeff wants an internship in Senator Coughlin’s office, and rejiggers his resume around that fact. He emphasizes that he wants this job as an experience builder, but also offers up his own strengths. In Jeff’s case, it’s his academic record and his skills that he wants to showcase. His experience is fairly limited (and here he excludes anything that might not be relevant to the internship he wants), but he’s careful to include previous responsibilities that match up to what Senator Coughlin’s office is seeking in the job description.
Jeff also shows follow-through in his resume: in his summary statement, he emphasizes that he wants to build experience in a community-oriented role. So he makes sure to include two things that emphasize that: his volunteer experience and the award he received at school for his volunteering. The most important part of an internship resume is making sure that the skills and experience you do have, even though you may be very early in your career, are perfect for the job you want to do.
Next up, let’s look at Genevieve’s resume. Genevieve is applying for an internship. She has the skills called for in the job description, but no experience.
23 Anderson Street
Phoenix, AZ 33333
GRAPHIC DESIGN INTERN
Motivated, detail-oriented communications and graphic design student seeking to leverage design skills, writing skills, and social media experience into an experience-building internship in graphic design.
- Creative design visual design and use of typography
- Completing projects on deadline
- Ability to work in a variety of environments
- Communicating verbally and in writing
- Working with clients and colleagues to complete projects on spec and on deadline
- Software: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign
- Bilingual: Spanish and English
Partridge College, Phoenix, AZ.
Expected graduation: May 2017
B.A. Graphic Design
Activities: Campus Happenings Magazine (layout and design for print and digital content)
Marconi High School, Flagstaff, AZ
High School Diploma
Awards: Arts Innovation Award, 2014; Honor Roll (2009 – 2013)
Activities: Daily Bugle student newspaper (reporter and layout artist)
Chilly Pete’s Ice Cream Factory April 2007 – August 2009
Server and cake decorator
- Created visually stunning ice cream cakes, both for display and to customer specifications
- Served customers and handled cash transactions
- Provided cheerful, courteous service to all customers
Genevieve knows that in order to put herself in the best light for this internship, she needs to play up her skills and education, and play down her limited experience. She does this by crafting a highly targeted resume. She’s going after a graphic design internship, so that becomes the theme of just about every part of her resume, from the headline to the objective statement, and then into the skills, education, and experience. She also includes links to her professional social media (LinkedIn) and her personal website, so that the reader can see what her designs look like. We haven’t yet gotten to a point where fun, graphic resumes have displaced the good, old-fashioned formats, so it’s important to give the reader options to see what Genevieve is talking about. She’s telling, but also showing. By doing this, she’s creating a brand around herself without yet having a lot of experience.
For more resources on how to get the internship you want (and then do a good job while there!), be sure to check out these articles:
- 5 Benefits of Accepting an Internship After College
- 5 Questions to Always Ask at an Internship Interview
- 15 Amateur Mistakes You Can Make During Your Internship
Want more samples? Check out the following list for other resume templates:
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