Advising students on how to create resumes that land internships

December 12, 2011 at 8:35 am | Posted in Intern Advice | Leave a comment
Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

Resumes are more important than ever before in getting internships. The competition is fierce not only from students seeking multiple internships but from unemployed persons who want internships as a way to get a foot in the door and update their aging resumes. The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows unemployment still hovering at 9%. The Internet has also made resume submission easy, resulting in an overwhelming deluge of resumes for every posting. But the average amount of time spent on reading a resume is only 12 seconds.

So how can you help the students lined up at your Career Center for Spring and Summer internships create resumes that will compete in this tight market? Here are a few tips to share with them:

  • Maximize the Summary of Qualifications, the area right under your name and contact information, by highlighting your soft skills to showcase a more in-depth profile of yourself and create a bond with the reader. These skills, such as leadership, communication, problem solving, and team building, should relate to skills listed as desirable in a targeted internship posting. The language in the Summary should align with the same language in the internship listing, incorporating key words that match.
  • Emphasize positive personal traits. Since this Summary is the first item a reader sees, make sure to present a positive image of someone who would make a great intern. Some examples are “dynamic, decisive, energetic, focused, highly ethical, team player, innovative, creative, accurate, high-performance, results-driven, solutions-oriented, and detail-oriented.” Look for distinguishing factors that will make your resume capture the reader’s attention. Do you speak several languages, travel internationally, hold important campus offices, or have won special scholarships or honors?
  • Utilize powerful language, such as “keen problem solving, negotiating, and decision-making skills” or “expertise in customer relations and new market development.” Other phrases could include “high achiever and honors student with outstanding presentation and communication skills.”  Introduce each resume bullet with a strong, active verb, including “Spearhead, orchestrate, lead, manage, analyze, improve, increase, achieve, initiate,” etc. Keep the resume to nouns and verbs, deleting articles, such as “the, a, an.”
  • Develop entries in Additional Information to stimulate the reader’s interest in meeting you. This section, informally called talking points, can contain items that don’t fit anywhere else in your resume, but reflect good character or drive. Entries can range from hiking the Appalachian Trail, playing in a band, winning marathons, raising funds for charities, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity or other groups, or starting a small business, which could be anything from a lawn mowing service to computer repair.
  • Maintain a professional image in both your Summary and Additional Information. Keep your entries short and refrain from mentioning personal items, such as marital status or religious affiliations.  If you belong to any professional organizations on campus, such as the student chapter of Public Relations Society of America, be sure to list them. For hobbies, list only unusual ones rather than the mundane ones like reading or traveling. Try to market yourself as a multi-faceted person with much value to bring to a Spring or Summer internship.
  • Click on Student Resources in and find out more about how to market yourself. You’ll find articles on how to write a resume, resume examples, editing resumes, and proofing resumes, which will help you refine your resume.

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