How to Add Your Summer Internship to your Resume

by Vault Education Editors | August 26, 2010

  • My Vault

A friend of mine once called August "one longSunday." It's an apt metaphor: many things, after all, are coming to anend in August, and it's hard to know exactly what to do with yourself. Not that there aren't any options--"theReal Housewives" of wherever, the beach (or sprinkler system), yourfavorite bookstore or outlet mall--it's just more difficult than usual to beparticularly productive. Well, here's an idea for those of youfinishing up summer internships: use your "one long Sunday" to figureout how to incorporate that internship into your resume.

Creating a resume as a student is always a littletricky, and it's amazing how much those two inches about how you spent yoursummer vacation can impact your career choices after you graduate. And since yourday-to-day is still oh-so-fresh in your mind, it's definitely worth taking the time now to do a good job.

student shows off her resumeI talkedto Jason Levin, a Senior Account Executive at Vault who describes himself asthe a product of the recession of the late 80's and early 90's. He is fascinated by all things related todeveloping a career, and "has been helping folks with their resumessince college." The way Levin explains it, even incorporating one littleinternship into that whole big, scary resume (or, as he called it, "youropportunity to really engage your readers and talk about yourself in a uniqueand genuine way") is a lot more complex than you might otherwise think.

Step one: Distinguish yourself from otherapplicants

It does you no good to say that you "tutoredstudents in their course work" or "liaised with 200 company representatives.""That could go on any resume;" Levin says, "and that makes itbanal. The first thing I would ask iswho are these 200 representatives? Smallenterprise company representatives? Fortune100 representatives? Are you contactingpeople in marketing? Sales? Editorial? Purchasing? 200 company representativestells me nothing." "Liaised with company representatives" notonly fails to distinguish you from other applicants; it doesn't even give enoughinformation about the task itself. Youneed to be specific about what precisely it was you did: whom you spoke with,for instance, and in what capacity you spoke to them.

Step two: Make your resume goal-oriented, insteadof task-oriented

One of the most important questions to be askingthroughout your internship, whether you're writing a report or preparing anexcel spreadsheet, is "why am I doing this?" Levin explained: "Peopleoften write a resume as if they're writing a job description. A goal-oriented resume helps me figure out whatthe problem was that you needed to solve, what actions you took, and whatresulted from those actions." It answers the question, in other words, ofhow you added value for your employer. Theother up-side of a goal-oriented resume is that it can make somewhat lessimportant tasks seem more so, without lying or misleading. Instead of saying you updated excelspreadsheets, the bullet point might read "updated excel spreadsheets withinformation about local rent costs to facilitate the Senior Vice President'sanalysis of the housing market."

Step three: Choose which responsibilities tohighlight in your resume

Interns often float back and forth between varioustasks, and it's hard to know which ones should be included in a resume. Your school's career center is a good firstresource, but they won't be able to give industry-specific advice. Another nugget from Levin: "You knowwhen Hillary Clinton says, 'it takes a village to raise a child?'Well, it takes a village to raise a resume" In other words, find membersof your professional field--including H.R. reps--to critique your resume. "Itshould be part of your informational interview: when you meet with someone inthe profession, you end that meeting with 'would you mind looking over myresume?' And if they're willing to give you actual feedback, then you inject thatfeedback into your resume."

--Written by MadisonPriest

Filed Under: Education

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