One of the good things about internships is that no one expects you to have decades of experience in the field. Employers are aware that this could be your first foot in the door. But you still need to write a killer resume and cover letter that shows what you do know about the field, what you can contribute and how your education or other experiences can set you apart from the rest of the candidates —and you need to do this all in one page. Lucky for you, you can actually cram a lot onto one page. 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 resume for your internship that will impress your hiring manager and help you land the job to jump-start your career. Although, as long as you capture the basic sections with the right details, there is no hard right or wrong way to assemble your resume.
Narrowing Down Your Skill Sets
Besides the obvious information such as the quick points about who you are and indicating your anticipated degree, take a minute to think about everything you have done up until now and start writing out some of your experiences. Use the job description for the internship as a guide.
Really dig into the requirements and responsibilities it’s 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?
Make a list. Write down what you can bring to the table such as your educational history, like your major, your GPA, classes, research work, big projects, study abroad programs, honors, or awards, summer, part-time, or on-campus jobs, 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.”
Building 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 or personal website, if you have one. Be sure to include a professional email that includes your full name. No nicknames or gratuitous amount of numbers.
If you are still in school 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.
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 a template to follow, try Google Docs resume templates that you can copy and start personalizing instantly. Also, another site that I love is Canva, which has some unique but professional templates that will help you stand out.
Add Action Words
Now that you have brainstormed your experience and built your sections, you are going to want to think about how you list your skills. Action words, like facilitated, led, managed, maintained, operated, recommended, can really bolster your resume and put you in a confident, capable place to the future employer who is reading your application.
Experience.com has some great examples of those action words in one-line sentences:
- Communicated with customers, managed inbound requests, and shared complaints with a manager to help make improvements
- Organized orders during busiest hours and responsible for serving approximately 30 patrons per morning shift
- Managed cash register drawer of at least $400.00
- Led and trained four new Baristas in protocol and etiquette
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.
Remember 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 job description. Do you have similar action words? Will you be able to convince them to hire you based on what you wrote? Make sure everything fits on one page as it’s cleaner and neater this way.
Give it one last review to clean up any stray errors. Spelling something wrong could make or break you as a potential internship! Read it, read it 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. Good luck!