Here’s how it’s supposed to work: An internship gives you experience that you can leverage into a full-time position in your chosen field. This is how it all too often really works: You spend the summer doing grunt work, or worse, doing nothing at all. Can this resume entry be saved?
Yes, it can! No matter how lowly or off-topic you think your internship was, you have still learned things that will be of value to future employers. It’s all in how you look at it … and present it when marketing yourself.
If you lucked into an internship where you received relevant training and opportunities to contribute meaningfully to the company’s operations, then you will certainly make the most of that on your resume and in your next job.
But even the most mundane task can sound impressive if you add the right details. Of these two resume entries, which person would you hire?
Helped with warehouse restocking.
Handled restocking of 25,000 sq. ft. warehouse which shipped more than 5,000 items per week to all 50 states and 14 countries.
If you said B, you’re right. This version tells recruiters that you have learned how to handle a fast pace and high work volumes — and that’s much more valuable than the task itself.
For many interns, this is their first experience of working in a team where they are expected to put the company’s benefit ahead of their own personal interests. You learn how to fit in with the corporate culture, interact with a variety of different personalities, and meet people at all levels of the organization.
Good communication skills, teamwork experience and being a cultural fit are all high priority traits that employers look for in job applicants.
Being good at your job is only half the story for most employers. They also want someone who’s good at being an employee: coming in on time every time, taking direction well, being willing to go the extra mile when the team is in a jam. In short, someone who’s a good value for the money they’re paying.
If you learned and practiced these skills during your internship, it will pay off big when it comes time for your supervisor to write that letter of recommendation. And remember, this supervisor — as well as everyone you worked with during your internship — should be kept in touch with as part of your professional network after you leave. You never know when one of these contacts might lead you to your dream job.