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Writing guide to internship resume for college students

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A Macbook pro and a notebook planning to fill out a resume for an internship

College is stressful for a multitude of reasons. You’re on your own for the very first time in your life, you have to feed yourself (and are very upset you no longer get mom’s home cooking regularly), and you generally have to start thinking about your long-term future more and more.

The last thing you need is added stress coming from not only going to school but also applying to and creating an internship resume. However, as you progress through your college years, you’ll begin to hear and learn about internships and just how important they are to your future career.

Benefits of an internship

There are many benefits to doing an internship. They allow you to explore career opportunities, gain valuable job experience, and make connections within the professional world.

It’s for these reasons that getting a good internship can be extremely competitive.

In a world where hiring managers want 3 years of experience for an entry-level position, an internship is what will give you a leg up when getting your first job after graduation. However, you first have to get the internship.

The key to obtaining even the most sought-after internships is your resume. Your internship resume is what will determine if you get your foot in the door or not. It’s the very first impression you give the professional world and you need to be putting your best foot forward.

This Guide to Writing your Internship Resume and the tips here will set you up for success and give you tips to take your resume to the next level in order to score you that interview.

Preplanning your internship resume

There’s a lot of planning that has to go into a resume and as much as we wish we could outline everything you should and shouldn’t do, we can’t. Check out this hub for all things resume help and get more inspiration than you’ll even know what to do with. 

The worst thing you can do when starting to write your resume for your internship is to jump into your word document, click the first template you see, and start filling in the blanks. This will get your resume pushed to the bottom of the pile on the hiring manager’s desk, along with the 40 other resumes that look just like yours.

The problem here isn’t even necessarily that your format will be basic and boring. It’s more about the fact that those resumes are setup and tailored towards professionals with a plethora of experience; which is something you are not.

This will make your resume sparse and make your lack of experience glaringly obvious.

The better practice is to open up your word document along with the job listing (or a few job listings) and make a list of all the skills you possess that are relevant to those positions.

For example: if you worked at an ice cream shop in college and are applying for a sales internship, don’t focus on the fact that you scooped ice cream. Instead, focus on your excellent customer service skills and your aptitude for handling money.

A resume template specifically designed for internships

Enter your information below to access the resume template, and start applying to internships:

Other template mistakes include:

  1. Limiting your resume to something the internet tells you, such as a page limit. While you shouldn’t go too long, if you have relevant information, don’t be afraid to go over one page.
  2. Ruling out any relevant experience. If you have relevant volunteer experience, include it. If you have relevant athletics experience, include it. The keyword here it relevant, just make sure it pertains to the job you’re applying for.
  3. Waiting until the company asks to include references. Given your inexperience, references and their titles, can show your capable of working with real and successful professionals, even without the company ever calling them.

This brings us to our next tip:

Use creative buzzwords

While adjectives might not have been your favorite in your high school English class, when writing your internship resume, they should and will become your very best friend.

Though hiring managers don’t expect a book of a resume from an internship, they do expect more than three short sentences.

Adding buzzwords to your internship resume will both lengthen your resume and better describe your skills. You don’t just “have customer service experience”, you “excel and thrive when working with and providing top-notch customer service”.

If you struggle to come up with creative (and appropriate) buzzwords that don’t come across as over-the-top, try sprinkling some of these in:

  • Thrive, excel, detailed, team-oriented, fast-paced, focused, etc.

Tailor your internship resume template to your skills and the job listing

Will this, in some cases, mean slightly more work when applying for different internships? Yes. It will. However, by curtailing your template and wording the job, you’ll up your chances of getting the job in the first place, lessening your work in the long-run.

Now, tailoring your internship resume to your skills is a little different than tailoring it specifically to the job. Tailoring to the job applies more to the meat of your resume, the content within it. However, tailoring it for your skills is more about the template and structure of your resume.

  • For example, while someone with a plethora of job experience might have a long job history section, you probably won’t.

To make up for this, focus on the education section of your resume.

  • For example, instead of simply listing your school, major, and GPA, include classes that are also relevant to the internship you’re applying to; so if you’re applying for an internship working with a sports teams marketing department and you’ve taken a sports management class, be sure to list it.

You can also be sure to be thorough with your skills section.

  • For example, a professional graphic designer doesn’t need to list Adobe as a skill as it’s assumed when they have 10+ years of experience in their field. However, just because you don’t have 10 years of experience doesn’t mean you don’t have experience with Adobe, be sure to list these skills and feel free to get specific. This can also be a time where you list a relevant class where you learned said skill as well.

Don’t slack-off on design

While we will be the first to exclaim that the actual content of your resume is the most important part, the design and overall look of your internship resume is also important and shouldn’t be overlooked.

A well laid-out resume or a pop of color can be what catches a hiring manager’s eye and gets them to look just a little bit closer at your resume over the 60 others they have to sort through.

While you should take into account the job you’re applying for in this instance as well, for example, more creative jobs mean more freedom to be creative with the design of your resume, a pop of muted color or a color scheme is usually appropriate nine times out of ten.

It’s also not a bad idea to include a professional (i.e. not a selfie) portrait of yourself as well.

Be sure to look professional but pleasant and eager as well.

Edit, edit, edit

You should read through your resume 10 times, your mom should read it, your grandpa should read it, your roommate, your boyfriend, your coach, and even your neighbor down the street that you haven’t spoken to in five years.

The point is, you need to make sure your resume is borderline perfect in terms of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. You’d be surprised at how many hiring managers throw out a well-qualified resume simply because they caught you using the wrong form of ‘there’. Don’t make this simple mistake and make sure to get more eyes on your resume than just your own.

In conclusion

Following these tips will set your resume apart from the rest, even in the most competitive of fields, and ensure you get the call-back.

From there, it’s up to you. If you’re looking for a basic yet unique template to base your resume off of that won’t be just another run of the mill resume for a professional with 15+ years of experience, check out our Internship Resume Template to get started building your optimized internship resume!

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Becca Cornell

Becca Cornell

Becca is a full-time digital marketer and a freelance writer and blogger in her spare time. She has a passion for higher education, stemming from a 3-year marketing internship with her undergraduate college. She’s a graduate of Lake Erie College with an English and Communications Bachelor’s degree and resides in Willowick Ohio, with her boyfriend and their dog, Mason. She’s also a firm believer that every day should be a “bring your dog to work” kind of day.

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