Including internships on your CV.

When you're trying to get a foot on the job ladder, an internship can give you a great step up. If you're still studying and looking for practical experience as part of your course requirements, a short-term internship can give you a glimpse of what it's like to work in your chosen industry.

If you've recently graduated, an internship can help bridge the gap between the academic world you've been used to and the moment you secure your first permanent role. Even if you've already gained some work experience to add to your CV, you can show you developed the specific skills needed for a role by listing your internships.

Analyse what you learned, rather than what tasks you did.

It seems obvious, but as an intern, your primary focus was to learn. Recruiters understand this. So, they're not looking for an impressive list of tasks, they're looking for evidence of what you learned, and if you're the candidate, they're looking for.

  • Review the job posting.
  • Look for keywords to help you identify what the recruiter is looking for.

Hard skills.

Did you gain any of the hard skills required? 

Some examples:

  • If the role you're applying for involves handling cash – did you do that during your internship?
  • If you'll need to carry out specific basic tasks for a technician's role, did you practice them during your internship?
  • For an office-based internship, did you learn to use standard programmes and systems?

If the answer to these kinds of questions is 'no,' don't worry. You'll have learned a lot during your internships; it's just a question of identifying what counts for this role.

Soft skills.

Next, look at the soft or 'people' skills you demonstrated.

  • Did you deal with customers? 
  • Did you develop your selling and problem-solving skills?
  • Did you work closely with others? Highlight team-working and communication.
  • Did you deliver to deadlines? Time-management and planning.
  • Did you work, unsupervised? Self-management, communication, and ability to handle the unexpected.

Formatting an 'Internships' section.

If you only have one internship but have some work experience, include it in the 'Work Experience' section of your CV. However, if you have had more than one internship, create a separate section and place it under the 'Education' section.

Keep it brief and to the point, list these items:

  • Employer's name.
  • Location (Coventry, United Kingdom, or New York, USA).
  • Dates of the internship.
  • Two brief sentences about the placement, e.g.,
    1. Internship in the Human Resources department, carrying out recruitment-related checks and inputting data for the monthly report.
    2. Working closely with my colleagues, I gave my first presentation, Suggested improvement for the monthly report, which was accepted by my manager.

    The first sentence explains how you spent much of your time. The second shows how you behaved and what you learned/practised: teamwork, planning, communication, creativity, initiative.

To summarise, everything you include on your CV should be tailored to reinforce the case you're making. Use the opportunity of describing your achievements as an intern to take you one step closer to that interview invitation.

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