Do internships on a resume matter?

The work history section is one of the most important parts of your resume, but it can also be one of the biggest challenges for job seekers who have little relevant experience in their chosen industry. Whether you're a recent graduate or someone who's switching careers, it's critical to ensure that your resume conveys enough experience to demonstrate your qualifications. Fortunately, you can include relevant internships on your resume to help plug that experience gap.

In this post, we'll explain when you should consider listing an internship on a resume, explore some tips that can help you include that information, and provide some examples you can use as a guide when crafting your own resume.

How can internships on a resume help you?

Before we begin, it might be helpful to consider why internships might matter to employers. To answer that question, we need to remember why you participated in that internship in the first place and the benefits that it provided.

Internships are an integral part of many college careers. They often provide the best opportunity to understand how your classroom lessons translate to real-world work situations. Without them, many students would miss their best chance to truly experience their chosen career field prior to graduation. Most importantly, however, an internship can provide a whole host of benefits that can enhance your career prospects:

  • The development of useful skills that prepare you for the workforce, including interpersonal communication, collaboration, and problem-solving

  • Greater familiarity with job roles and responsibilities in your chosen industry

  • Hands-on experience that you otherwise wouldn't possess

  • An opportunity to achieve tangible results in the workplace

  • A chance to develop your network by building relationships with others in your industry

When should you add an internship to your resume?

You should also carefully consider whether you need to include your internship on your resume. Since you only have a maximum of two pages of resume space to work with, you certainly don't want to include anything that doesn't add to your unique value proposition. As a rule, you should consider including your internships when:

  • The experience relates to the job you're seeking

  • You recently graduated from school, and it's your most relevant work experience

  • You've decided to switch careers, and your internship is the only part of your work experience that relates to your new role

Pro tip: It's also vital to remember that you won't want to leave that internship on your resume throughout your entire career. Once you've gained enough experience in your industry to wow prospective employers, you should remove any internships and focus on your professional achievements.

How to add an internship to your resume  

How and where you add your internship experience to your resume will depend on how far along you are in your career. If you recently graduated from college and are pursuing your first full-time entry-level job, then your internship experience should be prominently displayed at the top of the work experience section of your resume.

Related post: Seven Key Resume Sections and How to Organize Them

Remember, though, that you'll always want to list your relevant experience in chronological order, beginning with your most recent role. For example, if you did an internship after you left college and then followed that up by working in a related job for a couple of years, your resume should list those two experiences in reverse chronological order – starting with your most recent position.

You have two main options for including an internship on your resume: 

  1. You can add it to your work experience section

  2. You can create a separate internship section

Most job applicants should use the first option, especially when an internship relates directly to the job they're seeking.

However, if you've had multiple internships and some limited job experience, you may benefit from adding a separate internship section to your resume. Moreover, if that internship experience is more relevant than your other work experience, you might want to place this section ahead of your professional experience.

Do not put your internship information in your education section. An internship is a valuable experience that should not be hidden behind your educational credentials!

What to include in your internship listings

Make sure that you include the right details when you describe your internship. They include:

  • Your formal intern title if you were given one

  • The type of internship that you completed

  • The dates during which you served as an intern

  • The projects or assignments that you were given

  • Your responsibilities as an intern

  • Three to five bullet point achievements that focus on skills used and measurable results

Related post: 11 Key Things to Put on Your Resume

Sample Internship on resume for freshers

In the example below, the candidate provides detailed information about their position – including the company they worked for, the dates of employment, role as an intern, and chief responsibilities. They also provide several bullet-point examples of achievements that demonstrate how they used their skills to add value to the company.

As you can see, several of the achievements cited in that example use real numbers to quantify the candidate's accomplishments. As you prepare to include your internship in your resume, make sure that you focus on measurable achievements that demonstrate your value as a prospective employee.

Sample Work Experience with Internships

Related post: 47 Accomplishment Examples for Your Resume: Expert Picks

Sample Internship Experience on an Entry-Level Resume

If you possess more than three years of experience in your field outside of your internship experience, then your early internships should become more of a footnote on your resume. Instead of detailing each of your internships in the work experience section, add a career note that summarizes the information. This format is like the career notes used by senior-level professionals who need to cut their resume down to two pages.

Here's an example of how you might phrase that type of career note:

Career Note: Additional finance experience includes multiple full-time summer internships as a finance intern at the following firms: Company A, Company B, and Company C. Additional details available upon request.

If you worked with any namedrop-worthy clients during your internships or were responsible for certain tasks that are considered desirable by employers (and you haven't completed them in any of your non-internship work), then you might want to include one additional line to this blurb that calls attention to these details. Otherwise, it is quite acceptable to keep your resume career note brief. The career note is usually included at the end of a professional's work experience section in the resume.

Once you're no longer considered an entry-level professional – typically seven or more years into your career – then it's time to retire the internship experience altogether. Assuming your professional experience supports your current career goals, you will no longer need to reference your internship to attract employers. Focus on dedicating more space to your recent work experience and accomplishments and omit your internship experience.

Related post: 17 Resume Tips to Get Seen and Hired Faster

Include your internship on your resume to boost your interview chances

Never underestimate the powerful impact of including an internship on your resume, especially if it highlights skills and duties you'll need in your desired career. Employers are always eager to discover that you have real-world experience in your chosen field. And they're even more excited when they can see that you used your time as an intern to achieve real, quantifiable results for that employer – even if you achieved those results during an internship!

You don't need to struggle to write your entry-level resume. Get the help you need with TopResume's professional growth package.

This article was originally written by Amanda Augustine and has been updated by Ken Chase.

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