If you’re thinking about an internship, that already says you’re a go-getter. Whether you’re in high school or college, an internship is a great way to give you a leg up in your choice of profession. But to get an internship, you need to make an approach like a seasoned pro, and that starts with an excellent internship resume.
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A 2019 study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that college graduates who had completed an internship received more job offers than those who had not.
Securing an internship, just like getting a job, requires a focused search. And snagging that internship can lead you to the first job of your dreams.It all starts with the process of developing your resume, planning what to include and how best to present it.
This resume writing guide, along with sample resume sentences specifically for internship candidates, will set your candidacy apart from the pack. You'll learn how to:
- Create an engaging, easy-to-read resume that highlights the qualities you'll need to succeed in an internship
- Choose the best resume format for an intern
- Optimize each resume section with customized content reflecting your background and goals: summary, education, experience and skills
- Follow layout, design and formatting tips for eye-catching impact, readability and technical compatibility.
- Capitalize on the experience you already have to get you in the door with an internship at the best companies.
What does an intern do?
Multiple professions offer internships, some of them paid and some unpaid. Interns gain valuable, real-world job experience to enhance their future resumes, which in turn will lead to better job opportunities down the road.
For employers, interns represent a low-cost, short-term alternative to full-time hires. Sometimes an internship can also serve as a tryout, an extended test of a potential hire. For example, a law firm may give an internship to a promising law student, and if that person excels in this role, the reward may be a permanent job.
How to write an internship resume
Although you are still in school, you have the material to create a strong resume that will plant you firmly on your career path. Resume formats contain standard sections, but they also contain some that are optional, depending on the career you seek and your achievements and skills.
Let’s take a look at which resume sections are musts when it comes to an internship.
- The r esume header (or your contact information)
- The resume summary (also known as the profile or personal statement)
- The employment history section
- The education section
- The resume skills section
- Remember your summary will be seen first, so let your uniqueness shine through.
- Think carefully about the order of your sections. Place priority on those that best match the skills the internship requires.
- Choose a clean, professional design that ensures your resume won’t be ignored.
- Try to cram every job, class and skill into your resume.
- Ignore the specifics of the job requirements.
- Write overly long descriptions for every entry.
Now, let’s focus on optional resume information you should consider.
Languages: If you speak more than one language, that can be a big advantage. Many companies are multinational and can use employees who can communicate with others around the globe.
Extracurricular activities: Carefully consider whether you can point to an achievement in these activities, or link it to a skill your potential employer would appreciate in an internship candidate.
Hobbies: This section can add a little personality to your resume, but it can seem as though you are merely trying to fill space. If your hobby is related to your chosen field, consider adding that information in the skills section of your resume.
At the front of your brain: keywords and ATS
Your first hurdle is passing the test of the applicant tracking systems (ATS). These computerized systems scan your resume for keywords employers have highlighted as most important. Because of the ease of applying for jobs and internships by simply uploading your resume, companies have found ways to narrow the applicant pool.
Most companies of large or medium size use ATS as a first line of defense in the hiring process, even for internships. You must make it past ATS if you want an actual human recruiter to see your internship resume. ATS software uses an algorithm to give your resume a score and rank it compared to other internship applicants.
Make sure to use keywords that you find by analyzing the job description. Use them liberally (though make sure you don’t start sounding like a robot yourself). Most keywords will be directly related to a “ hard skill,” which is a specific quantifiable skill such as accounting, that is necessary for a job or internship. And remember to use technology to your advantage by grammar- and spell-checking your resume. There's no excuse for typos – even as an internship candidate.
According to Capterra data, more than 75% of large corporate employers use ATS. Some other sources indicate even higher percentages (of up to 90%). The industries that turn to this software most frequently are: health care, education, technical services, scientific services, retail manufacturing and professional services.
Choosing the best resume format for an intern
The most commonly used chronological resume format is designed as a straightforward way for job candidates to organize their experience and qualifications below employer headings and dates, in order from most recent to earliest. But for an internship job application, a different resume format may be more suitable, depending on the nature and relative importance of your employment history.
In cases where specialized knowledge and skills are just as important as where you have worked until now — if not more so — a functional resume may be your best bet. It offers greater flexibility to emphasize your most relevant strengths up front in a section labelled “Experience.”
A hybrid, or combination, resume format offers even more versatility. Job seekers can integrate chronological and functional elements in the most applicable manner, and perhaps even put their education section higher up on the page.
Like every consideration when preparing your resume, the format you choose should depend on the type of job and industry, and how best to present yourself as an ideal match. Also take into account what we touched on earlier regarding optional resume information you may wish to include, and the order you choose to arrange resume sections.
For more ideas and inspiration, check out these writing guides and resume examples from the related education category:
A distinctive resume header can visually set yourself apart from other intern candidates off the top. It enhances the reader-friendliness of your document while also readily identifying who it belongs to. It also displays your contact information prominently so recruiters can readily get in touch to arrange an interview.
Internship resume summary example: Start with a bang
Your summary is the perfect opportunity to show you have the right combination of knowledge, drive and personality to succeed in the internship. Your resume may look similar to many other internship applicants, but its summary is yours alone. This is your chance to get a little creative and give potential employers insight into who you are and why you’re the best candidate for the internship. This isn’t easy; you have two or three sentences to differentiate yourself and show your knowledge of your chosen field, but never fear, the following strategies will get you there.
Also known as a profile or personal statement, your summary allows your resume to stand out from the crowd of other internship candidates. The top of your resume is prime real estate. Here’s how to grab recruiters’ attention:
- Research the key qualities necessary for your chosen internship and career. Craft your first sentence to illustrate how you embody those qualities.
- Analyze the internship job description. Once you have a firm grasp of exactly what skills the employer wants, use this resume section to explain your expertise or positive qualities using action verbs.
- Use action verbs that tell what you have done or are able to accomplish. Here are a few examples: coordinated, envisioned, launched, diagnosed.
- Show your grit. Talk about a success you’ve had or a problem you solved. This shows you understand what it means to apply yourself to a job. Alternatively, discuss in a sentence a position you have held — even if it’s not directly related to your field. This shows employers that you are a responsible internship candidate and can handle a challenging work environment.
OK, so now you know what a resume profile is, but what does one look like for an internship candidate with little or no experience in the field? Check out the sample below for an example of how to write your own resume summary.
Hardworking and enthusiastic college student working towards a B.S. in Marketing. Seeking to use my superior knowledge of social media marketing and my advanced communication skills to effectively serve your company in an internship position. Dedicated and committed to becoming a dependable and valuable team member.
Employment history: You’ve got more than you realize
Experience means more than just jobs in your field. You can describe work that points out your relevant skills. Don’t forget those resume keywords! The focus of your life so far has been your education.
As you make the leap into the workforce, this resume section will fill out. In fact, although it is hard to believe now, one day you will be trying to pare this down instead of beef it up. But even as an intern, you probably have more experience than you realize. Recruiters looking to hire you for an internship understand that you will not have vast experience. They do want to know, however, that you are responsible, serious about your work, and have interpersonal or technical skills.
Here are some sample experience categories you may want to list on your resume for an internship:
- A previous internship, even if it’s not in the same field as the one you are seeking.
- High school / summer jobs you have had, whether babysitting, retail, or working at a fast food restaurant, tell an employer something about yourself as a worker. Describe the skills you used, the duties you performed or a problem you solved.
- Volunteer work, even if it was required by your high school for graduation. If you used skills relevant to your career, list them on your resume.
- Personal projects such as: a blog that highlights your thinking or writing; a programming challenge or hackathon; an amateur theater project; or a website you developed with friends. These are perfect ways to show alternative experience on an internship resume.
One important thing to remember: DO NOT fluff up this section in an attempt to fill space on your resume. Human resources professionals and recruiters can easily spot drastic exaggerations or overplayed achievements.
Review your contact info. If you have email addresses or messenger tags that were created back in high school and look unprofessional, create new ones, specifically for resume or professional purposes. Survey data shows that 35% of employers have a problem with unprofessional email addresses. A good bet is to get an email address with your first name (or initial) and last name.
Below is a resume employment history example for an intern.
Sales Associate, Gary's Department Store, Bellevue
Sep 2018 - May 2021
- Maintained positive consumer relationships.
- Provided excellent customer assistance at all times.
- Ensured all communications were consistent with the store brand.
- Used superior information technology skills on a daily basis.
Office Assistant, The Harkins Group, Seattle
Jun 2017 - Aug 2018
- Worked to increase office productivity by maintaining an organized environment.
- Used advanced software programs and helped to maintain strong communication among colleagues.
- Maintained the office schedule and prioritized tasks.
- Effectively used my management skills to complete all front desk operations in a timely manner.
Assistant Dog Trainer, Gracelane Kennels, Norwalk
Nov 2016 - May 2017
- Helped dogs to assimilate in their new environments.
- Maintained a proper environment, conducive to the health and happiness of each and every dog.
- Cared for each dog, ensuring proper medications and procedures were administered.
- Prepared new kennels for incoming dogs and thoroughly cleaned vacant kennels.
Internship resume education example: Mine your classes
Classes in your chosen field have already given you both theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience. In this section, you have the opportunity to explain how your education makes you a great candidate for an internship.
College classes in your major are the perfect preparation for internships. Look through your course descriptions and syllabi for examples of transferable lessons or skills. Then, highlight keywords and projects you have completed that are directly related to the internship you seek. Your academics are your current career, so treat them as such. Analyze the internship description for skills and highlight keywords you will strive to include on your resume.
Focus on tangible results of your education
Here are two tips for enhancing the education content of your internship resume by describing, including a sample sentence you can adapt.
- Use active verbs and details.
- Say this: “Wrote research paper that involved surveying 50 students and analyzing data to test my hypothesis that too much outside work drives down student grades.”
- Instead of: “Did a research project on how work affects student grades.”
- Use specific language and spell out acronyms the first time you use them. For example, remember that ATS may be searching for the words “search engine optimization” and not the acronym SEO.
Here’s a basic education example you can use as a starting point for your internship resume.
University of Washington, Seattle
Bachelor of Marketing
- Passionately pursuing a marketing degree, while working to enhance my skill set and industry experience.
Franklin Academy, Bellevue
Sep 2013 - Jun 2017
High School Diploma
- Earned my high school diploma and graduated at the top of my class.
- Worked to maintain my Honor Society membership for all four years.
CV skills example: Give employers what they seek
You will tailor this section to the internship you want. Each employer wants something a little different, so make sure your resume reflects that. You’ve already tackled experience and education. Now, make a list of all the skills you have. Put them down even if they seem irrelevant. This will be your master list and brainstorming it will give you a baseline from which to choose the most important qualities as you adjust your resume for each internship application.
Some skills require explanation. Saying you’re a good communicator is not very informative. Instead, give an example on your resume of a time you had to communicate and the result of the communication. A 2017 study of employers found that the top skills they look for in interns are:
- Information processing
- Verbal communication
If you are struggling to develop this section, consider placing it below the education section, where you may be able to showcase your industry knowledge and skills more readily. Analyze each internship description. Choose the top five to 10 skills listed to personalize your resume. Use exact words from the description to help you get past the ATS.
Check out an internship resume sample for the skills section below.
- Interpersonal Communication Skills
- Excellent Work Ethic
- Advanced Technology Skills
- Teamwork Skills
- Honesty and Integrity
- Motivated Attitude
Resume layout, design and formatting: Look like a pro
Some internship candidates believe that employers will overlook a poorly designed and formatted resume document from applicants with little or no professional experience. This is usually not the case. In fact, a well-designed resume can actually put you miles ahead of others seeking the same position.
When it comes to layout, design and formatting choices, you’ll want to keep your resume looking clean and simple, without sacrificing visual appeal. After putting time and effort into crafting your resume text, it's important to ensure the document is easy to read.
Here are some tips for creating a CV layout and formatting that's artistic, yet legible and inviting to read.
Here are some tips for creating a CV layout and formatting that's artistic, yet legible and inviting to read.
- Try the quadrant test to make sure the text is well-balanced. Split your resume into four quadrants, by dividing it horizontally and vertically. Text should be almost evenly spread among the quadrants (more important sections can be a bit larger).
- Separate text. Instead of putting your title, dates of employment, and employer’s name one right after the other, divide them into columns on your resume.
- Choose fonts wisely. Use boldface, type size, and fonts to draw recruiters’ eyes to the most important information on the resume.
- Use color sparingly. A splash of color is fine, but too much is distracting and looks unprofessional.
Resume.io's field-tested resume templates can make it easier to quickly create a job-winning CV. Choose one from our four resume design categories — modern, professional, simple, or creative. Or, personalize the internship resume example at the top of this guide.
But before you settle on a template, make sure to consider what the presentation says about you as a candidate. Is the internship for a serious company in a traditional field with a formal image? Or do you think your potential employer would appreciate a more modern, resume with youthful appeal?
According to Purdue Owl, HR personnel take at most 35 seconds for a first look at a resume. Make the most of that time.
Key takeaways for an internship resume
- You have more experience than you realize, and that can lead to a great resume.
- Internships are the first step to the career of your dreams, and a great resume will help you get there.
- Resume.io will help you craft a great resume that gets you past ATS software.
- Think carefully about the order of your resume sections and put your most impressive or important ones first.
- Some sample experiences for a student or intern can include volunteer work and personal projects.
- If you're a college student, highlight your outstanding classwork and achievements in the education resume section.
- Tailor the skills section to each internship and give examples for vague skills like “great communication.”
- Use templates and design principles to create a clean, professional-looking resume format.
Save yourself time and take the margin of error out of your resume creation with the resume.io builder tool and expertly designed resume templates.