If you are a recent college graduate, you have limited working experience, or you are looking to change career path, including internship experience on your resume can open doors for you.
Breaking into an industry can be tough in a competitive job market and sometimes a sacrifice is needed. In many companies, the only difference between an intern and an employee is the salary.
Employers understand the value of interns who are willing to work hard, for little or no money, to learn more about the industry because this demonstrates a passion and enthusiasm for the sector or position.
Unpaid work is not time wasted, and if you know how to write a resume effectively, including internships on your resume can give your resume an edge over your competitors and get you through to the interview stage.
When to put an internship on your resume
Today’s job market is incredibly competitive. It’s important to do everything in your power to give yourself an advantage over your peers.
Should you include internships on a resume? If an internship is relevant to a position you’re applying for, include it. If it demonstrates that you have the required skills and experience for a job, it will give you a big advantage.
If you have recently graduated, or are still in college, you probably won’t have much relevant work experience. In this case, your internships should appear prominently on your student resume.
Similarly, if you are changing career and need to write an entry-level resume for a new industry, internships can help you get the break you need, and they should be one of the focal points on your resume.
A valuable internship can give your resume an edge. Don’t make the mistake of leaving your internship off your resume simply because you think you’re too old or too experienced.
When not to include internships on your resume
Although internships can play a crucial role in advancing your career, they are not as valuable as full-time jobs. If you have gained enough experience in paid positions, adding an internship to your resume may not be advantageous.
Posting internships on a resume is only helpful if you’re in your first or second job in the relevant industry. If you have more experience than this you shouldn’t keep them on your resume unless it is particularly impressive.
For example, you can add an internship to a developed resume, if you did an internship at Apple, Google, or the White House.
If you have enough experience, and the internship doesn’t have the ‘wow-factor’, you’re better off using the space on your professional resume for sharing your employment history.
Tips for adding your resume experience
Focus on the most impressive, most relevant aspects of your internship position. Even if you spent most of the time making photocopies or fetching coffee, only include the parts of the internship that are relevant to the position you’re applying for.
- It is important to tailor each section of your resume to each job you apply for, internships on resumes are no exception to this.
- Make a list of every responsibility you had during your internship. This will enable you to add or delete the responsibilities depending on their relevance (or irrelevance) to the job.
This approach will widen your appeal from the perspective of employers, making you a stronger candidate for a broader range of jobs.
- When applying for a job, read the job description and highlight the key words relating to skills and experience. Include these keywords, or synonyms in your internship description.
By matching the experience you gained in your internship, to that needed in the prospective job, you will greatly improve your chances of making it through to the first interview stage.
Using an online resume builder is an effective tool which allows you to quickly chop and change your resume for each position.
How and where to add internships to your resume
How to put an internship on a resume: It is almost the same as adding job descriptions. You need to list the job title and company name, followed by the dates you were there.
There’s no need to put the exact dates, you could either write the months e.g. ‘June 2016’, or ‘May – September 2016’, or if the internship was seasonal, you could just write ‘Summer 2017’.
The next part is to write a description of your responsibilities. As already mentioned, this needs to be tailored for each position, using keywords from the job description
A common mistake is to put an internship at the bottom of the resume. Either you have enough experience and don’t need to put it on there. Or, in the absence of enough relevant experience, it should appear prominently.
List your internship under your work experience. If you list your internship here, make sure you write that it’s an internship. If you have more than one you can also create a separate ‘Internships’ section and place it next to, or below, your experience, depending on your resume format.
If your internships are more relevant to the position you’re applying for than your paid work experience, put them at the top of your resume. If you have a more impressive recent paid position, put your internships below your work experience.
Sometimes it’s just as simple as that: creating a resume that gives a clear overview of your work history, whether in paid jobs or unpaid internship positions so the employer can gain a better understanding of where you’re coming from and what your strengths are.