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How To Write an Effective Internship Resume: 5 Tips To Make an Impression

by | Mar 17, 2021 | Internships, Recruiting, Student Life

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One of the good things about internships is that no one expects you to have decades of professional experience in the field. Employers are aware that this could be your first chance to get your foot in the door. But you still need to write a killer internship resume and cover letter that shows what you do know about the field, what you can contribute, and how your education or other relevant experiences can set you apart from the rest of the candidates. 

The hard part is that you need to do this all on one page. Lucky for you, you can actually cram a lot of information onto one page if you know a few tricks. It’s completely normal to have a moment of panic when you find yourself with little to put on your resume for an internship as a student or recent graduate. But even the little bit of information you have can make for a great resume. 

In this article, we will highlight what you should include on your internship resume to impress your hiring manager and help you land the job. As long as you capture the basic sections with the right details, there is no hard right or wrong way to assemble a perfect resume. Here are some tips to craft a brilliant internship resume to jump-start your career.

5 Tips To Craft an Internship Resume

internship resume: Man updating his resume on his laptop

So you found an internship and now you want to apply. Resume writing is different from writing a research paper. In fact, the entire focus of a resume is about keeping it short and sweet. This change can be difficult for students to grasp. Fortunately, there are tips and tricks to help you build an effective resume. Here’s what to include and what you should keep in mind when formatting your internship resume.

1. Use Proper Resume Formatting

In general, resumes should be only one page in length. That’s because hiring managers get hundreds — and sometimes thousands — of applications and they don’t have time to flip through page upon page of information. A resume is designed to highlight your specific skills and prior experiences.

The proper resume format includes an education section, work section, and volunteer section. The education section is where you’ll list any relevant coursework and your degree, like a Bachelor of Science. You can also list any recognitions like making the Dean’s list or being part of the National Honor Society in this section.

The work section is for any prior work experience including summer jobs, summer internships, and other work experience. Job seekers may also want to include a skills and extracurricular activities section or a section highlighting awards you’ve received.

Keep the information as succinct and direct as possible. One way to do this is to use bullet points. A hiring manager can quickly skim through bullet points to see if you have the right skills and qualifications for the role. Another way you can get information across quickly is to use quantitative measurements. Instead of simply saying “I increased sales” try to include how many sales you made each day, how many accounts you handled, or your average monthly sales revenue.

You should also keep font size between 10 and 12 and margins should be at least 0.5 inches on all sides. Avoid using the word “I” in your internship resume. Instead, start phrases using action verbs — more on that in a minute. Use the past tense when describing roles you held previously and present tense if you’re writing about a university or coursework you’re currently enrolled in. Use bold font to highlight important information, but don’t go overboard.

2. Narrow Down Your Skill Sets 

internship resume: Interviewer reviewing a resume

Besides including the obvious information like who you are and your anticipated major or bachelor’s degree, take a minute to think about everything you have done up until now. Have you participated in any technical competitions? Do you have a passion project you’re working on or volunteer experience that’s relevant to your field of study? 

Start by brainstorming and writing out some of your experiences. Use the job description for the internship as a guide. If the job posting lists certain skills, try to think of other areas where you’ve demonstrated those skills. This can be a previous summer job when you worked as a professor’s assistant, or from a personal experience in your life.

Really dig into the requirements and responsibilities the posting is asking for and see how any experience you have had so far might align. What skills are they highlighting — both hard skills, like Excel or WordPress, or soft skills, like time management or written communication? What words are they using to describe the ideal candidate? What experiences, work history, or general background or interests are they looking for? 

Making a list can be a quick and easy way to visualize these strengths. Write down what you can bring to the table. This can include your educational history — your major, GPA, classes, research work, part-time or on-campus jobs, and big projects. It can also include your study abroad programs, honors, or awards, volunteer work or student organizations, clubs, or sports. 

Also, consider the types of classes you took in school that could be relevant. If you took an intro to web design course and you’re applying for a creative-type job, make a note of it. Employers want to see what classroom experience and software knowledge you can bring to the intern position. If you put a business plan together with three other classmates, include this as well. This demonstrates your ability to work in teams as well as your ability to see projects through from start to finish. Companies are seeking interns with fresh insight so don’t hide what you’ve learned.

While some of these experiences might seem irrelevant, the key here is to make sure whatever you’re including shows some sense of involvement, work ethic, and accomplishments. 

For example, in an article by The Muse, career coach Eilis Wasserman recalls that “one time a student — an English major — I was working with got a paid remote internship in New York because the hiring manager was impressed she was a crew trainer at McDonald’s; they valued her leadership ability and hard work ethic.” This shows how you can leverage any experience on your internship resume to show what you can bring to the table.

3. Build Your Sections 

At the very top, preferably in a bigger, bolder font, add your contact information — which should include your name, your phone number, your email address, and any relevant links, like your LinkedIn profile, relevant social media sites, or personal website, if you have one. 

You can also include a resume objective that highlights the type of role you’re looking for. Be sure to include a professional email that includes your full name — no nicknames or gratuitous amount of numbers. Remember, you want to look professional and serious about the job.

If you are still in school or recently graduated, you should include your education at the top of the page. Then move on to Work and Leadership Experience, Activities, Skills and Interests, and Volunteer Work. 

Don’t freak out if you think you don’t have a lot to include in these sections. Again, hiring managers and recruiters know that you’re just starting out and don’t expect you to have years of experience. Try your best to come up with experiences that can demonstrate your knowledge. Under the Work and Leadership Experience section, you can include high school sports and summer work experiences to show your leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Go ahead and cut or condense if it feels natural or saves you from going on to another page. If you are having some trouble or need an internship resume example to follow, try Google Docs resume templates that you can copy and customize instantly. Another site that we love is Canva, which has some unique but professional templates that will help you stand out. 

4. Add Action Words 

Interviewer smiling at an applicant

Now that you have brainstormed your experience and built your sections, you are going to want to think about how you list your relevant skills. Use action verbs and avoid the passive voice — where the subject is acted upon and not doing the action. For example, don’t say, “The department sales were increased.” Instead, use action verbs and say, “Increased department sales 20%.”

Action words, like facilitated, led, managed, maintained, operated, and recommended, can really bolster your resume. From the perspective of the future employer who is reading your application, it also makes you seem confident and capable.

Here are some great examples of action words in one-line sentences:

  • Communicated with clients, handled inbound leads, and shared concerns with the operations team to improve processes
  • Created and organized spreadsheets documenting company sales and expenses
  • Managed customer accounts of at least $70,000.00
  • Led a team of 11 college students and won the top prize at the Google Science Fair

Many of the skills acquired from unrelated experiences are transferable. The key is to find ways to demonstrate your dedication, dependability, creativity, and work ethic with the right action words.

5. Don’t Forget To Edit 

Now that you’ve dumped everything onto paper, it’s time to look it over and make sure it’s in tip-top shape. First, is it truly tailored to the internship you’re applying for? Reread the internship description. Do you have similar action words and skills? Will you be able to convince them to hire you based on what you wrote? Make everything fit on one page since it’s cleaner and neater this way. 

Give your internship resume one last review to clean up any stray errors. Spelling something wrong could make or break you as a potential internship applicant! Read it, read it again, and then reread it some more. Proofread, spell check, or — my personal favorite — ask a friend to read it through for you to give it a fresh set of eyes. You can also try reading it aloud to catch any mistakes you might have missed when you were reading it quietly. 

Find Internships To Apply To

Do you have your internship resume in order and now you’re ready to apply for internship opportunities? Join Scholars today to get exclusive access to new internship openings at some of your favorite companies. By creating a profile, hiring managers can reach out with relevant opportunities that fit your skillset.

You’ll also find insider tips on our blog and podcast, so you’ll have all the information you need to land the gig. It’s another way to discover internships that can help you start building a rewarding career. Good luck!

About Scholars

Scholars helps companies build engaging candidate experiences at scale. Create personalized journeys for all of your candidates from application through onboarding.

About Scholars

Internships and early-career jobs are unlike any others. They are often accepted months, if not years, in advance of the start date leaving plenty of time for candidates to change their minds and decide to work elsewhere, costing your team time and money.

There are two ways that have been proven to decrease renege rates for any company: keeping candidates engaged by sharing personalized information and helping them make connections with their future teammates. Companies use Scholars to accomplish both of these at scale.