By Mariana Ashley
Finding ways to incorporate unpaid work experience onto your resume and cover letters can be a real challenge. Many young job hopefuls fail to realize how valuable the unpaid work they’ve done in the past can be for their current “real world job” search. In today’s competitive job market, internship and volunteer experience have increased in worth on a resume. It seems today more emphasis is being put on work experience than it is education, because actual job experience can demonstrate some things that education cannot.
Use these tips to better discuss and display the positive attributes and experience you’ve gained from your successful internship period.
Understand Its Weight
Many employers accept professional internship experience in lieu of professional work experience.
Many people entering the job market today become discouraged by the requirements for those with “more experience”. For recent grads and newbie job-searchers, this can be an extremely difficult thing to hear time and time again. We find ourselves in what feels like a stalemate—employers are looking for individuals with more work experience, we can’t gain work experience until we land a job. It’s a tricky situation, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Understand the value of your internship (and volunteer) experience in your job search. If you don’t believe in its legitimacy, neither will a potential employer. Many employers accept professional internship experience (if it is in an area related to the position) in lieu of professional work experience. Be confident in your own internship experience and work to find its real worth, so that you can communicate it on your resume and cover letters.
Really Evaluate Your Experience
Once you realize just how important your internship experience is, you must find what specific aspects of it are valuable to your resume. Think about the things you have done and learned during your internship. Before you sit down to actually compose your resume, try to outline various things about your internship. By thoroughly considering everything that you did and learned during this time period, you will be better able to communicate the internship’s worth to a potential employer. What are the specific tasks or projects that you completed during your internship? What specific skills did you gain during this time? Consider times that you had the opportunity to observe or work directly with professionals in positions that really interested you. If these positions are related to the position you are applying to, this can be a huge asset. What did you learn about yourself and your own personality during the experience? Use these evaluating questions to determine what areas of your internship you want to discuss on your resume and during your interview.
Showcase Responsibilities and Achievements
Look at initiatives or goals that were set in the beginning. Where they accomplished or met?
Pay special attention to your achievements and responsibilities within the internship position. Create a list of bullet points outlining your major responsibilities within your professional internship. Choose the top ones to include within your resume, and use the rest as talking points during interviews. This makes it very clear for both you and for employers to pinpoint what type of experience your internship has provided. Go about doing this by starting with a list of all the responsibilities you performed during the internship. Start with the most primary and important responsibilities and then consider any indirect (seemingly) minor responsibilities or task you might have performed. This will give you the big picture of your duties on the “job”, so that you can better delineate them on your resume.
Next, look very carefully at your achievements within the internship experience. This part will take some serious consideration, but is certainly one of the most important things to discuss when it comes to internship experience. Look at initiatives or goals that were set in the beginning. Where they accomplished or met? Did you eventually assume some sort of a leadership role? While leadership is not common among interns, your participation as an intern in the projects and tasks of the company are just as important. Communicate any projects that were completed, goals met, or specific successes made within the company during your time there on your resume and during your interview.
Internship experience can be extremely valuable within today’s competitive job market. Use these strategies to communicate the value of your experience on your resume for potential employers.