Revising resumes to capture summer internships

March 27, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in Advising interns | 2 Comments
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

The unemployment rate is down to 8.3%, and the number of available internships is soaring. now has 63,235 internships in over 18,000 companies in nearly 8,000 U.S. cities. But many students are complaining that they are facing an “internless” summer even though they’ve applied for lots of internships. One student recently told this writer that he had applied for 40+ internships and didn’t even have one interview to show for his efforts. As it turned out, the problem was not only the huge volume of resumes competing for the same internships, but also the poor quality of his resume. However, as a career services professional you don’t have time to rewrite all your students’ resumes. You can refer them to for resume samples and tips, and you might pass along the following suggestions:

  • Be aware of resume screening:  Your resume is probably being initially scanned by a computer that is searching for matching words between the internship posting and an applicant’s resume. Try sending out fewer resumes, but customizing each resume for the internship posting by integrating key words. For example, if the posting description says it wants “motivated, high-performance interns who have excellent communication skills and are familiar with social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter,” then you’ll add those same words into your resume. The Summary of Qualifications is the perfect location for the terms, “motivated, high-performance, excellent communication skills.”  Think about adding a Skills section to incorporate “LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter” or any other required skills.
  • Add achievement sub-sections:  Check the section in the internship posting that describes the duties of the intern. Then, break your activities down into those achievement areas. For example, if the posting says the assignments include, “research, customer service, and business development,” you can review your job from last summer or during the school year and then divide those activities into 3 sub-sections titled, “Research achievements, Customer service achievements, and Business Development achievements.”  By using this format, you demonstrate that you’ve read the internship posting, have taken the time to create a relevant document rather than a mass mailing, and are sincerely interested in the internship.
  • Use distinguishing factors:   Try to introduce some accomplishment or unusual activity to create a “Wow” factor that makes your resume stand out from the pile.  Do you speak several languages? Studied or traveled abroad? Started any new groups on campus? Volunteered to help disadvantaged populations in the community? Launched an entrepreneurial activity, such as starting your own lawn service or babysitting business? Won any awards? Perform on any sports teams, run marathons, or play the violin or any musical instrument? Raise funds for nonprofit causes? Play in a band or write music? The same type of distinguishing factors that helped get you accepted into your school can help you get the internship you want—only now you have more of them.
  • Keep it short:  The current trend is a 1-page resume because each internship opening usually has lots of resumes, so you want to keep your resume short but strong. The most important item is your name in bold-face and all caps. Your contact information can go in one line. Your Summary of Qualifications should only be a few lines, emphasizing your achievements and soft skills. Start every bullet out with a dynamic verb, such as lead, manage, drive, increase, initiate, innovate, create, analyze, achieve, etc. Try to use primarily nouns and verbs in your writing, deleting all articles, such as “the, a, an.” Keep the format simple without borders or colors since such elements clutter up the resume and take up valuable space that you need to describe your activities. Remember that many resumes are read online, so colors often fade into unreadable copy. Feel comfortable giving little space or even deleting older items that go back to high school unless they’re Wow factors.


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  1. I would like to be one of the choices for internship of this company. Please call me at this number 561-628-7619

  2. Greetings from Ohio! I’m bored at work so I decided to check out your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the information you provide here and can’t wait to take a
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