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You’ve decided to go for an internship – now what?
As a college student, you know how hard it can be to get a decent internship.
At the same time, you may wonder why anyone wastes their time writing an internship resume and competing for work that doesn’t pay.
Why not study, graduate, and write a nice student resume?
Here’s the thing.
Internships can offer you a leg up when it comes to landing your first job. What’s more important, internships can help you find out what that first job should be.
This guide will tell you:
What is an internship?
An internship is a temporary position offering college students or recent graduates work experience. Some business will pay their interns. Others won't.
Okay, but why waste time writing a resume for an internship and not getting paid for work?
What’s the difference between a college internship resume and a student resume anyway?
Let me ask you a question.
Imagine you’re looking for your first job. Would you rather:
Sure, you can always add that one summer job flipping burgers and your work study library job to your experience section. Still that equates to almost zero relevant work experience.
And that’s especially true if you’re not planning on being a cook or a librarian. That’s why internships aren’t a complete waste of time.
Internships are a way to boost your student resume before you graduate.
Also, internships are great opportunities for you to test a job.
Let's say you have your heart set on working in a particular industry. An internship is a great way to put that desire to the test. How do you know you’re going to like it if you don’t try it first?
Let’s not forget the two most important benefits:
Okay, so let’s say I’ve convinced you. Now, what?
Well, you’ll have to find an internship that’s right for you and send a carefully constructed internship resume sample.
How do you find the right internship? Start by creating a wish list.
Let’s say you’re a Journalism major and a sport enthusiast. Landing an internship at a big newspaper would be a major accomplishment. But you might get more out of working for a small sports publication.
Once you know what you want, you can start your research.
You’ll need to do research every step of the way.
Start by researching companies that are looking for interns. Make a short list of those that match up with your wish list.
There are a lot of factors that go into choosing an internship.
Here’s a few:
Pro Tip: Some companies offer dormitory style housing for interns. And if moving is a priority, give yourself extra time to deal with the logistics.
Another thing to consider is what to include on your intern resume. Nothing comes to mind? Read our guide: "What to Put on a Resume to Make It Perfect [Tips & Examples]"
Here’s where to look for open internships:
Why? First, many companies post their internship opportunities on career boards at schools.
Second, you can get help with building your internship resume sample. At the very least, you can find someone who will proofread the final copy.
Your network can play a huge role in helping you find the perfect internship.
Who qualifies as “your network?”
If you know someone who works in your industry or who may have connections, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Yes, it’s intimidating but also well worth it.
Hello [Insert Name of Contact - Use Appropriate Titles],
This is [Insert Your Name]. We met at / You know me from / I am a close friend of [Insert person, place, or thing]. I hope things are going well for you.
I am contacting you because I am finishing up my studies in [Insert Your Major]. I understand that you have connections within my industry as well. Would it be possible for us to meet in person or chat by phone?
I’m looking for internship opportunities right now, and I would love to get your advice and insights. Here’s my phone number [Insert Phone Number]. Is it okay if I add you as a contact on LinkedIn?
Thanks for your time,
[Insert Your Name]
The message is short and to the point. It allows you to express your needs without being demanding. Plus, you're also complimenting the recipient by asking for meaningful advice and insight.
The letter also gives the recipient several options for helping you.
They may have nothing more to offer than advice on how to create your internship resume.
On the other hand, they may offer you an internship that’s a perfect fit for you.
Let’s say specific companies top your wish list. You want to work in fashion.
Maybe not The Devil Wears Prada. But you’ve got a shortlist of publications, ateliers, agencies, and retailers you wouldn’t mind trying on for size.
You research them. There are no internship programs. Now, what?
Time to find a person you can use as a point of contact. In the meantime, connect with the company via social media. Explore their websites and look at other job offers.
Once you’ve gained some valuable insight, you can try cold calling the company. That means picking up the phone and talking to your point of contact.
Otherwise, you can send a personalized email expressing your intentions and interest.
Do keep in mind that you'll want to establish contact before sending a sample resume for an internship.
Ask your contact person if you may send your sample internship resume despite the lack of open positions. And then wait until they give you a green light to send your documents.
What’s better than cold calling your dream company? Meet a representative in person. Okay, why not date Ryan Gosling while I’m at it?
All you have to do is introduce yourself when the opportunity presents itself. There’s nothing like a face-to-face meeting to get someone interested in taking you on as an intern.
Pro Tip: Even if a face-to-face meeting doesn't result in an internship, you're adding valuable contacts to your network. Remember to add them on LinkedIn.
Want to know how to optimize your student LinkedIn profile for future employers? Read our guide: "How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Summary & Profile to Get More Jobs"
If you are still struggling, here are a few resources to add to your arsenal:
Use LinkedIn to search for internships and to build a strong professional profile.
To optimize your profile, include recommendations from professors. Show off your volunteer work, extracurricular activities, and achievements.
The platform is a great place to get started on a master, first time internship resume that you’ll tailor for individual positions later.
To search for internships, click on the jobs tab and type “internships” in the search bar. You can filter down to those that relate to your degree program.
One point to remember:
Companies pay to post. That might limit what you can find to offers from large business and organizations.
A lot of smaller companies look for interns on internship.com because it is free. The site lists over 100,000 internships from around the world. Some are paid, others not.
As one of the largest American job boards, you can find offers from most companies on Glassdoor. You can also find reviews of what it’s like to work for different companies.
Search by career field and geographic location. Glassdoor draws its offers from companies, job boards, and partner organizations.
Check out the alumni network at your college. Alumni who are in positions to hire interns will often start by leaving offers at their alma mater’s career office. Alumni usually want interns from their colleges, so make this one of your first stops.
Check out Google. Yes, it sounds too easy. But you can find all sorts of things when you search for paid and unpaid internships in your field.
You will find opportunities that supply all details, requirements, and deadline dates. And you can even search by geographical area.
There are over 30 companies advertising for internships on internmatch.com. One benefit is that you can receive notifications for relevant positions after registering.
If you want to work in the nonprofit sector, this is the place to search.
The list also includes international positions. There are both paid and unpaid listings, and the variety is far-reaching.
If you do decide to apply for a position abroad, keep in mind that they may ask for a CV instead of a college resume for an internship.
What's the difference between an international CV and a college student internship resume?
There's not much of a difference, but you'll want to check out CV requirements for different countries. You'll also want to make sure you follow whatever instructions your given.
Pro Tip: Another online resource is intern resume templates. If it's your first resume, a template can help you put the right things in the right places.
Consider adding how to make an internship resume using a template to your list of things to research. Otherwise, be sure to choose a traditional resume fromat.
Still not sure how to layout your first time college internship resume? Which resume format should you use? Read our guide: "3 Resume Formats: How to Choose the Best One [Examples]"
Congratulations! You’ve made it this far.
Now, you have a decent list of internship opportunities to pursue.
So, it’s time to write your internship resume. Your college student internship resume is going to look a lot like a regular student resume.
So, what’s the difference?
You’re applying for an internship. Hiring managers aren’t going to expect you to have work experience.
That’s why your undergraduate student internship resume may look a little different than the student resume you make after graduation. The end goal is to make sure that your student resume looks different by packing it with internship experience.
Still, a resume for an internship should meet the standards of any other resume. Because you have little to no work experience, your resume should be one page.
You should use a standard resume format for an internship resume, such as the reverse-chronological resume format.
As you might expect, you’ll want to start with your contact information. Include your name, phone number, and email address.
You don’t need to include an address, especially if you’re applying for a position out of state.
If you have a personal website or blog that is relevant, it’s a good idea to add a link. You can also pique the hiring manager’s interests by including your social media handles.
You’ll want to include a resume objective statement after your contact information. A resume objective tells a hiring manager where you are now and where you want to go.
At the same time, it focuses on the needs of the employer. Not your needs and goals.
Detail-oriented English Major seeking to leverage excellent written and verbal communication skills to succeed as an Intern at XYZ company. Excel at working on teams with +3 years of experience as Captain of the Lacrosse team at Xavier University.
Dedicated Biology major seeking an Internship to improve my research and lab skills.
Want to know how to write the best objective on a resume for an internship? Want more samples? Read our guide: "+20 Resume Objective Examples - Use Them on Your Resume (Tips)"
You may have work experience, but it’s unlikely that you have much work experience in your field. That’s okay. As a college student, hiring managers expect that.
That’s why you’ll want to lead with your education section instead of your work experience. After all, most of the relevant skills you have come from your education at this point.
If you’re like most interns, you haven’t finished your studies. In that case, here’s an example of how to put your education on a college student internship resume:
University of Dayton (2014 - present)
Expected to graduate in 2018 with a BA in Psychology. Current GPA - 4.0.
Also, add a coursework description. List classes and projects that are most related to the type of internship you’ve chosen.
Remember to tailor this to the internship description. You might want to add different classes and projects for different internship applications.
Want more examples of how to put your education on a college student internship resume? Read our guide: "How to Put Your Education on a Resume [Tips & Examples]"
As for work experience, you can't quite pack your undergraduate student resume with internship experience yet. But what you can do is include any odd jobs you’ve had in the past.
Adding jobs, even when they aren’t related to your field or industry, show that you’re responsible and you know how to work.
You can also add volunteer work or nonprofit work. Your experience section is also where to put internships on a resume.
As you complete internships, you’ll add them to your experience section as “jobs.” That’s the main difference between an undergraduate student internship resume and a student resume upon graduation.
Even if you're writing a first time internship resume, you can always jazz up your experience section. Read our guide: "+80 Examples of Resume Action Words for Every Profession"
You’ll want to do two things with your skills.
First, make a skills section. Put your strongest, most relevant skills here.
Next, pepper skills from the internship description throughout your college intern resume. Include some in your resume objective, coursework description, and experience section.
You’ll want to pay special attention to soft skills. Are you a good writer? Do you have sales experience? What about leadership skills?
Soft skills are valuable in almost any position. Put your strongest soft skills as close to the top third of your resume for an internship as possible.
Want to know which skills hiring managers want college students to have? Read our guide: "+30 Best Examples of What Skills to Put on a Resume (Proven Tips)"
Is your skills-based internship resume looking a bit empty?
You should definitely consider adding a section for hobbies and interests. Again, your focus should be on demonstrating your skills and experience. Choose hobbies that require skills relevant to the internship.
If you’ve noticed that the company has a particular work culture, you can also choose hobbies that reflect that type of work culture.
For example, if it’s a fast-paced work environment that requires a lot of teamwork, choose sports as your hobby.
Finally, add a section for research projects, extracurriculars, or publications.
Want more advice and examples of how to write a resume as a college or high school student? Read our guide: “Complete Guide to Writing a Student Resume [13 Tips, Examples]”
Before you send your college student internship resume for the first time, you’ll want to take a few things into consideration.
First, check if you've received detailed instructions on how to submit your student resume for an internship.
Instructions might include:
Often, failure to follow these instructions could result in instant rejection.
Remember, many companies have systems in place to screen emails and resumes. Use the wrong subject line or file type, and your summer internship resume could get black-holed.
Imagine missing out on a great internship because you couldn't follow instructions.
What do you do if you’re interested in a company, but haven’t been able to find internship opportunities?
You might have to send your resume for an internship “cold.” But, you’ll still want to personalize it as much as you can. If you can get the name of the hiring manager that works best.
At the very least you should try to get the name of the HR contact person.
This isn’t the ideal way to make contact, but if it’s your only choice it’s worth a try.
Here are three other things you need to do:
You will definitely want to research the company as much as possible. Research is the only thing that will help you to tailor your resume to the company’s needs.
A good resume and cover letter aren’t focused on your needs. They’re tailored to the needs of the business. Here are few things to remember.
You should address both documents to an individual whenever possible. Never send the same summer internship resume and cover letter to the businesses on your list.
Use keywords from the internship description in your resume.
The person reading your resume will scan for keywords. To find the right keywords, take a look at the duties, job requirements, and qualifications. You are looking for specific skills, years of experience, etc...
When you write your resume, you’ll want to make sure you include these keywords where you can.
Some of the keywords that you use will refer to skills and experience that are mandatory.
In other words, if you don’t have that skill or the required experience, you aren’t qualified to do the job.
For example, the job offer might say that leadership skills are a must. Make sure these keyword skills come first.
Tailoring a first time academic resume for an internship is hard. But we've got you covered. Read our guide: "6 Proven Tips on How to Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description"
Let's say you don’t include information about your social media accounts in your contact information section.
You should still expect potential employers to look into your online activity first thing after reading your summer internship resume.
Remember that even if your posts are set to private, nothing you post ever goes away. It’s better to use good judgment, to begin with. That’s why you should start using social media as a professional tool now.
Start a blog relating to your field or your interests. Connect with businesses and leaders in your niche. Start a professional website to use as your online portfolio.
Many college students go with WordPress because it has free and inexpensive. Instagram is a great option if you want to display pictures of your work.
And most important of all, make sure you’re on LinkedIn.
Pro Tip: The most important aspect of creating an online professional persona is to be consistant. You want to reflect what you've outlined in your resume for an internship.
Ready to send your college student internship resume? Want to know some secret tips before you do? Read our guide: "How to Email Your Resume to Get More Job Offers (Examples)"
After you send your summer internship resume, ace the interview, and dazzle your employer, it’s time to say goodbye.
But you’re not done yet.
The last thing you need to do is ask for a letter of recommendation.
As far as timing goes, ask for a letter of recommendation about two weeks before your internship is due to end.
That gives your supervisor time to consider your performance. They will also have time to write something thoughtful.
Do keep in mind that asking for a recommendation is a delicate matter.
Ask your supervisor to meet with you.
A meeting allows you to discuss your experiences and show your gratitude. You can also review your accomplishments and efforts.
Remember that it’s okay to approach more than one person for a letter of recommendation.
When you land an internship, you never know who you might connect with. You can also ask for a letter of recommendation if someone took an interest in your career, offered you advice, or acted as a mentor.
You’ll also want to send thank you emails. Send individual emails to each of your team members and supervisors. Mention specific experiences that you shared, and what you learned.
Yes, landing and surviving an internship may seem exhausting. And writing an internship resume can seem pointless.
The important thing to remember is that internships are rewarding experiences. The connections you’ll make and the experience you gain will be priceless. Make sure you follow all the steps from this guide for grads and good luck finding your internship.
What do you think? Did an internship lead to the job of your dreams? What about internship horror stories? Do you have an interesting tale of caution?