The chances are, if you are writing a CV for an internship, this is your first CV that will go to companies and potential employers. It might feel daunting and you might be wondering what on earth to include, even if you do have some practical work experience under your belt.
Panic not. Employers understand that potential interns don’t usually have years and years of work experience. Employers are looking at your CV for personality traits that might make you a good fit and emerging skills that they can train into expertise. They are looking for enthusiasm, willingness to work and learn and a passion for or interest in their industry.
It’s far easier than you think to demonstrate you are the perfect candidate for your ideal internship — the six steps below show you how:
Step 1: Share your contact details
At the top of your CV, clearly list your full name, town or city and then the best ways to contact you. If you have a mobile telephone number, include that, along with your email address.
If you are applying for a technology-based internship and you use an application commonly used in business environments, then feel free to show that off — for example, your Telegram or Skype username.
Step 2: Write a personal statement
If you don’t have lots of practical or work experience, getting across that you are a good candidate must be achieved in other ways.
Your personal statement is a paragraph right at the top of your CV. It will likely be one of the things a company looks at first and pays most attention to. It needs to be clear, concise and show a company why you are their perfect intern and why they need to read the rest of your CV.
A personal statement is a summary of relevant and excellent skills and experience. Sometimes, it’s best to write the personal statement last. By doing this, you can draw out the most relevant parts of your CV to the internship you are applying for as well as the best parts of your CV.
If you have relevant experience, make sure to include it, even if that experience is drawn from a hobby or volunteering. If you can demonstrate an interest in the industry you are applying to work in, show it. If your focus has been your academic studies so far, give some details on what you have achieved.
Step 3: Create a snappy core skills and achievements list
Now you need to give a few more details, but for extra impact, you should format them into snappy bullet points which really illustrate what’s great about you as a candidate. They need to be easily read at a glance.
Try and match them to the internship/s you are applying for. What is in the internship job description? If you have a skill or aptitude that they mention, include it in your list. Each bullet should be just a few words long and can include things like ‘8 GCSEs, GCSE Grade A in technology, customer service experience, video game design, HTML coding experience, captain of a football team’ and so on.
Step 4: Showcase your education
This is going to be the most detailed part of your CV. Not only do you need to include the subjects you have studied and the grades, but you can expand on any relevant topics, exams, modules and assignments studied.
If you completed a relevant project that demonstrates your knowledge and interest in the internship you’re applying for, discuss it. Stress any skills that you learned, any achievements gained (an impressive exam result, for example) and any software, applications or hardware used.
Step 5: Highlight any work experience
Some entry-level job seekers freak out at the experience section of their CV. But remember this can be paid or unpaid, can include volunteering and can include helping out friends and family with their work. You can also include any work experience, even if just for a few days or from a university, school or college placement.
Provide your potential employer with lots of detail so they can see how enthusiastic and committed you were and what you learned. Internships are about learning on the job, so focusing on showing your initiative and motivation to learn.
One thing to bear in mind, though, is that you should focus on drawing out the skills and knowledge you learnt from each job or activity, especially those that are relevant to the internship you’re applying for. For example, if you are hoping for an internship with an electrical design company, any type of problem-solving experience will show that you can be methodical and seek out solutions.
Step 6: Finish with your hobbies and interests
It may surprise you to know that hobbies and interests are of real interest to companies looking to hire interns. They show enthusiasm, commitment, a willingness to learn, social skills and more. Sports demonstrate team play or determination. Even winning esports or game tournaments shows quick thinking, team skills and healthy competitiveness. Music or Scouts groups show a willingness to learn. Attending a swimming club early every Saturday morning shows punctuality and commitment.
Have you created a website, written your own blog or recorded a podcast? Do you have a creative pursuit such as photography, playing an instrument or designing graphics? They all come with a long list of transferable skills and are a great way to show off your positive personal traits.
Are you ready to write your internship CV?
Before you start writing, do plenty of research on the skills and attributes the company or industry you want to work in prefers. Make a list and, after you’ve written your first draft, compare it to your CV. Have you included everything that could possibly be relevant? Don’t be afraid to boast about yourself a little, too. What are you good at and why? If you can, ask friends, family or teachers what they think your best skills and personality attributes are. Ask them to give you an example of when you demonstrate a skill or attribute. Is this something you could include in your CV? Above all, think positive and believe in yourself and you could land your ideal internship role in no time.
Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.