Writing a CV for an Internship
A CV is essential when applying for an internship. It must clearly display your personal details, experience & skills. Your CV should be appealing, easy to read and informative.
An Internship enables you to gain an invaluable insight into the type of role you may be likely to undertake once you have actually graduated. Indeed, many companies that offer Internships are actually looking for potential candidates for full-time employment. So the CV that you send in when applying for an Internship is very important as it is the ideal opportunity to get yourself known by the type of organisation that you wish to work for in the future.
Your CV should illustrate your interests, experiences, skills, achievements and values. However, before you begin to list them, consider first the message you are trying to convey to your host organization. An important step in writing a CV for an internship is to take the time to reflect on what will be the most interesting, impressive and unique for the person reading it. What is your host organization looking for? Be sure to target your CV to these expectations.
For many students, an internship will be their first time putting their academic knowledge to use in a practical environment. This does not mean that your past experiences are unrelated to the position. When selecting interns, most host organizations are looking for signs of achievement, a willingness to work hard, good communication skills, creativity and leadership, initiative and problem-solving skills. These are all skills that you may have acquired through previous work, volunteer, extra-curricular and academic experiences. Your task is to communicate these relevant skills on you CV.
STEP 2: FORMATTING YOUR CV
Purpose of a CV:
Your CV communicates your skills and experience relevant to the internship you are seeking.
It is often the first thing your host organization will read and it may be scanned in less than 30 seconds. A strong CV will capture your reader’s attention and increase the likelihood that they will continue to read your cover letter and invite you to an interview to learn even more.
There are many ways to format a CV. For an internship, the CV should be targeted and combine a chronological and functional approach.
A targeted CV is used when you know what experience you are seeking to gain and when you have some career-related experience. The structure of this kind of CV allows you to highlight this experience and align it with your stated career objective.
The combination of a chronological and functional approach allows you to rearrange your CV in a way that emphasizes relevant work experience and skills. It allows you to combine your employment and volunteer experiences based on the skills you want to highlight. Employment, education, career- related experience and volunteer experience are each separate headings. The information contained within in section is listed chronological order. This format prioritizes the skills and accomplishments you wish to highlight, while also providing a chronological work history.
List headings so that important information appears first.
Don’t hide headings such as Related Experience on your second page. Your reader may never make it there.
STEP 3: STYLE
The appropriate language for a CV is different from academic and professional writing. Do not try to turn your CV into an essay. Instead, work on developing the standard grammar for a CV by keeping the following points in mind.
Use short and simple phrases
Use past tense throughout your CV for consistency
Describe your experiences with action verbs
Use accomplishment statements and quantify your results
Repeat sentence structure to promote consistency
Keep vocabulary articulate and precise rather than verbose
Writing Styles to Avoid:
Slang or colloquialisms
Abbreviations or acronyms
Beginning phrases with personal pronouns instead of action verbs instead
STEP 4: BASIC COMPONENTS OF A CV A) CONTACT INFORMATION
Your contact information should be placed at the top of the first page and may be incorporated into a header to make your CV look more attractive. Take advantage of the relative freedom of this section to design your header in such a way that your name stands out. You can use a larger font or bold typeface to draw attention to your name, but avoid overdoing it and keep the header tasteful.
Your Name in bold and/or large
B) LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A learning objective is one or two sentences that express your short-term career goal. In the case of an internship, this means what you hope to achieve as an intern.
Always use your official email and check it frequently.
Be sure that you can be reached at the number you provide. Your voicemail greeting should be professional and brief.
Host organizations can easily look up your contact information on social networks. Be sure that your profile reflects the image you want to portray.
Example: “To utilize my education and experience to enhance organizational effectiveness and client relations as a Financial Administrator.”
This section should only be included if you speak more than one language. The purpose here is to highlight your skills, not draw attention to any limitations. List the languages you know in order of your fluency, starting with the languages spoken at your host organization. Always indicate your level of proficiency (fluent or mother tongue, conversational, working knowledge, or basic).
Be honest. There is nothing worse than being unable to deliver on a promise made in your CV. For example, before writing that you are fluent in Spanish, consider whether you would be able to perform in an entirely Spanish-speaking environment. If you are not fluent but are comfortable with the language, consider not mentioning your level of proficiency and wait until you get an interview to mention this to your host organization.
Starting with your current degree, list your previous degrees in reverse chronological order. List each degree (including specializations such as major/minor, honors or thesis) followed by the name of the institution and its location (city, province/state, country). If you participated in an exchange, include a separate heading for that institution.
For each entry, include any awards or academic mentions you have received. You can also highlight specific courses or honors work if it is relevant to the position for which you are applying.
If you have received many awards, you may consider listing them under a separate section called “Awards and Scholarships.”
E) AWARDS AND SCHOLARSHIPS
If you include this section, list your awards and scholarships in reverse chronological order. If space permits, include a short sentence to describe the nature of each award. This will provide more context for the reader and draw attention to particular achievements.
Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Civil Laws date-date ( expected)
University of Nairobi
Bachelor of Arts; History Honours, Minor in Political Science date-date
- Graduated with First Class Honours and a cumulative G PA of 3.7/4.0.
Awards and Scholarships
- Dean’s Honour List date-date
- Chamber of Commerce Business A ward date
- Government Scholarship (value Kshs.250,000) date
F) CAREER–RELATED EXPERIENCE
List experiences that relate to your learning objective and the internship position. You may be combining work experience with volunteer experience, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. Your experiences should be listed in reverse chronological order and include your position title, the name and location of the organization (or student group or association), and the dates of your involvement.
When listing years for your current degree, put your expected date of graduation.
It may be unnecessary to list your high school unless you want to highlight its reputation or that you studied in a city that is relevant to your internship.
If you hold a foreign diploma, find the name of the international equivalency.
When describing your responsibilities, be sure to use action verbs and emphasize your accomplishments. Every entry should describe a transferable skill that you can bring to your internship, such as leadership, organization and communication.
Marketing Assistant (date-date)
Campus Biz – Kenya
- Led a marketing team with the goal of increasing sales
- Maintained and updated company website
- Oversaw production of company catalogue
Corporate Development Assistant (date-date)
Safaricom – Kenya
Assisted the V.P. of Corporate Development in developing strategies to improve company growth and sales
Developed and implemented company’s privacy and health policy
Launched company’s intranet
Keep a master CV that lists all of your experiences. Refer back to it every time you draft a new CV and pull out the relevant items.
Research industry buzzwords and vocabulary to include throughout your CV.
G) OTHER WORK EXPERIENCE
List any additional work experience that may interest your host organization
Format this section like the “Career-Related Experience” entry above.
H) OTHER VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE OR EXTRA–CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
List any additional experience that may interest your host organization. Format this section like the “Career-Related Experience” entry above. Depending on your experience, you may create separate entries for volunteer work, community involvement, academic activities and athletic activities.
The “Skills” section allows you to highlight these hard and soft skills more directly than is possible in any other section of your CV. List the skills that are the most important for the internship for which
you are applying. These can include communication skills, research skills, computer skills, managerial skills, etc.
- Facilitated small group discussions as a Teaching Assistant
- Created weekly e-bulletins for McGill students as a Publications Assistant
- Worked with students to improve their cover letters and C.V.’s as a CAPS Peer Educator
Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and Dreamweaver)
XHTML and CSS
Organize your sections in an order that best supports your internship objective.
Not every CV will include every section listed here. Some sections should only be used if you have sufficient material to allow them to stand on their own.
J) CERTIFICATION AND ADDITIONAL TRAINING
This section can complement the information listed under “Education.” You may want to use this section to highlight relevant skills and educational training that would not be apparent from your school experience. Include workshops, seminars or certifications you have received. List these educational training in reverse chronological order.
STEP 5: REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW
Leave plenty of time to review it for content and grammatical and structural improvements. Consider having a peer review your CV to ensure that you are using the appropriate language for your field. Also ask someone who is less familiar with your field of study to review your CV to see if they can understand what you wrote. Someone with less experience may be more likely to catch inappropriate use of abbreviations or assumptions that your host organization may be unfamiliar with. It is easy to become attached to what you have written and to lose objectivity when editing.
STEP 6: THE FINAL LAYOUT
Your CV should be cleanly formatted and easy to read. It can be tempting to squeeze margins and use small font size in order to include more information, but remember that you want to make it easy for the reader to quickly scan your CV. Keep margins to ½” and font to 11 point. Use clear headings, spacing, underlining, italics, bold, and capitalization for emphasis but be careful not to overdo it.
|Top Tips for an Internship CV|
|When applying for an internship, it is important that your CV reflects skills, qualifications and experiences that are relevant to the actual company that you are applying to. They will be keen to see that you are genuinely interested in the kind of work that they do so that they can assess your ability to add value to the business. So, here are some key points to help your CV to stand out from the many others that will be sent in to companies for internship opportunities|
It is important to remember that Internships are also of vital important to you as they will help you to clarify your career direction upon graduation and can help you to start building a network of contacts within the industry. They add great value to your CV as they are evidence that you have consolidated your academic background with real industry experience.
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