With internship searches in full swing and a career fair looming, I seem to be talking a lot about resumes. Writing a resume for internship applications can be tough. On the one hand, it might be your first resume, which is a challenge to write in and of itself. You also likely don’t have a lot of work experience. If you did, you probably wouldn’t be applying for an internship.
How do you craft a resume specifically for internship applications? This is a good question, one I’ve gotten a lot lately and that I hope to answer here.
First and foremost, the overall purpose and strategy behind an internship resume is the same as that for a full-time job:
- Articulate your goal(s). Why do you want to do an internship? What do you want to learn? You might not have a statement of your goals on your resume, but knowing your goals for seeking an internship will come through as you choose what information to include.
- Think from the employer’s perspective. As I often like to say, your resume is about you yet not about you. Consider what the employer needs. What are they looking for in a successful candidate? What academic background or other experience do you have that contribute to those need areas? Do you see this reflected in your resume?
- It’s back to basics for content and organization. The traditional items to include on your resume still apply: education, job experiences, community service work, organizations/activities, academic accomplishments, other awards, etc. Organize the content in such a way that makes it accessible. There should be some defined order to your content – chronological, skill-based, other.
There are, however, a few areas where your internship resume might be crafted a little differently.
- Your academic background might be more in focus. Since you likely don’t have any experience directly related to the profession, specific coursework might act as a substitute. Again, think about the employer’s perspective. Include relevant coursework only.
- Even though career-related experience is most significant, all work experience is valuable. You developed transferable skills when you were working in fast food, babysitting, mowing lawns, etc. You are building them in your classes now. Identify the basic skills needed to do the work of the internship. Identify the skills you possess. Connect the dots. You’re not expected to have professional-level qualifications. Instead, the expectation is that you can transfer the skills built in non-professional roles to your work as an intern. Use your resume as one tool to convince the organization that you can do this.
- “Experience” doesn’t just refer to paid work. I have seen students whose volunteer activities or leadership roles in student organizations provide significant experience. If you are involved in an activity that goes above and beyond mere membership, write about it as you would a bonafide job.
The one thing to remember about your resume, no matter what you are applying for, is to keep your audience in mind and make the content relevant to that audience. When in doubt, talk it over with someone in Career & Leadership Development or a professor within your major.
You Might Also Like:
- Necessary Paperwork: Your Resume
- When You Don’t Have the “Work Experience” (Career Spotlight Blog)
- Resumes (UW-W Career Resources)