College resume...is that even a thing?
Who makes resumes in college, you might wonder? BOORRRRINNNGGGGG!
We know. Resumes will probably not figure in the priority list while you are in college. And why would it, when there's a ton of interesting stuff going on just about everywhere?
But much like the fabled ant and the grasshopper story, being reckless or just plain lazy when it comes to making your college student resume will lead to a brutal summer wherein you are jobless while everyone else is busy with their internships in exciting growth ventures and gravity-defying corporates.
But don't worry. We'll help you draft the perfect resume for college.
Our 2019 Guide to Internship Resume containing College Resume Examples and tips on College Resume Format will make sure you don't have to spend days and weeks on your laptop staring at a blank piece of document.
With a detailed step-by-step process outlined in the points below, making a college resume and an internship resume will be a breeze.
Why do you need an Internship?
Isn't slavery dead, you wonder? Why would you spend your time working for someone else for free when you can better spend it bingeing on Netflix?
Well, slavery is indeed dead, but it's a bit more complicated than that.
Anyone up-to-date with the trend knows that there's a huge gap in the skills which a typical graduate possesses and which are required by the industry in general. Consequently, a significant majority of graduates often find themselves without a job right after they graduate.
And when you couple that with unpredecented levels of debt (USD 1.4 trillion in total in the US alone), the students find themselves in a deplorable condition where they are in a crushing debt but don't have the means to do anything about it.
Short of changing the education system from the ground up and designing the curriculum in a way which bridges the skills gap, what can the individual student do at his/her level to make sure that they don't fall in the same trap?
In such cases, internships can play a gamechanging role.
While there exists a lot of avenues when it comes to paid internships, because of the cutthroat competition out there, not many can claim to successfully bag one.
Which again brings us back to the same question: why work for someone for free?
To which we ask a counter-question: you spend your college years emptying kegs and bingeing on Netflix, and come placement season, your resume is full of...full of what exactly?
What are the chances of getting a job right after graduation if the only thing on your college resume is a 1-month stint wherein you flipped burgers or assisted the college librarian? And how will that fare against your fellow classmate who did a gruelling 3-month internship in a top firm?
Sure, the chances of landing a paid internship are slim, but in the long run, it's going to benefit you in ways more than one. A half-decent internship will beef up your college resume and exponentially increase the probability of companies rushing to bag you.
In addition to that, internships are a brilliant way to bridge the skills gap we talked about earlier. No amount of lectures and theoretical knowledge can prepare you for the real world than a single day of an internship will.
Say you just entered college and are eyeing a particular industry or job profile - graphic designer for instance. A short stint as a graphic design intern will tell you more about the nuances of the profile than countless hours and days of Googling will. And when college gets over, you'll be better prepared to decide if you want to pursue that as a career or not.
You get to understand how workplaces work in general and you'll have a substantial idea of the real world so you can prepare yourself even before you enter. You'll have a taste of what slogging in a job tastes like.
And guess what? Recruiters will know that too. Any hiring decision is costly (in terms of money, time and resource) and a company would rather invest their resources in someone who they think will be able to withstand the workplace environment and deliver.
And if that's not reason enough, here's another - networking. A few months in an internship will arm you with contacts which you can leverage months and years down the line.
Your college seniors or professors can vouch for the importance of networking in any sector or profile, and if you're a college student with a network of high-profile corporate professionals, you're already ahead of the game boy!
How will an Internship Resume help?
Now that you know the importance of an internship, how do you go about getting one?
You don't think you'll just walk in and find recruiters waiting for you, right?
The key to a good internship is a good college student resume or an intern resume.
The nuances which goes into making a standard resume will extend to the college resume as well, but at a somewhat lesser degree. While we'll pick apart the entire intern resume section by section, there are a few things which might benefit you before we proceed.
As tempting as it is, you'll be better suited to have a college resume which you customize as per the requirement of the vacancy you are targeting - instead of having a generic resume which you are sending anywhere and everywhere.
We know, we know. Unpaid internship, and now customized resume for each vacancy? That's quite a drag, we agree, but it's going to reap you major dividends. The competition is intense, be it for internships or full-time profiles, and just so we didn't make it clear, let us reiterate it one more time:
You only get one shot.
Since internships are for a limited duration, and they are seasonal in nature (in almost all cases), recruiters are usually bombarded with applications in one go. If, for any reason whatsoever, your application is rejected, you don't get another chance.
Hence, it's of critical importance that you are able to judiciously utilize the one opportunity which you have in such a way that you don't have to send your college student resume elsewhere.
One advantage, or a bargain if you may, that an internship resume might have over a standard resume is the reduced level of complexity. An intern resume is not filled with work profiles, simply because there aren't any. There are no multifarious sections which will make you pull your hair.
But that is not to say that making a college resume is easy. It has its own set of nuances which you need to consider before you go about making the perfect college resume for that dream internship which you are targeting.
Before the College Resume - Checklist of items before you begin with your Resume for College
Here's a checklist of factors that you might want to consider before you proceed with your intern resume:
A lot of students will not bother reviewing their options - maybe because they don't even know if they have any. And it makes sense: why not jump at the first opportunity which presents itself?
But think about it: if you spent hours and days working on your resume for college, wouldn't you want to be absolutely sure that you are getting the bang for your buck?
An internship is the perfect laboratory for you to identify and realize if a profile/industry that you always admired from afar is as satisfying as you think. A favourable or not-so-favorable experience in a internship can determine your view of that industy for the rest of your life.
For that reason alone, it's important that you have absolute clarity on what you want. It's critical that you ask some sincere questions to your inner self before you proceed with any decision:
- What are your hobbies and interests?
- Is there an industry which you think might be a perfect fit for you but you are still unsure?
- What kind of a work culture would suit you? Do you see yourself in a corporate setting or in a startup venture?
Location is a major factor. Are you limited by physical location or not? Are you looking for any or all internships in a particular location near you, or are you open to moving? If that's the case, are you looking for an internship in a specific profile or industry, irrespective of the location where it might be? Have you factored in all the costs, monetary and otherwise?
Will moving to a different city/country for your internship benefit you in the long run? Who knows if the company which you are targeting also offers dorm-style living arrangements for their interns?
Once you've achieved a certain level of clarity, proceed by researching everything there is to know about the company and the internship.
Find out if the company or sector which you are targeting is even looking for interns in the first place. Get to know about their recruitment process and their interview methodologies. Do they ask to include specific details in their internship resumes?
What is the typical duration of the internship? Is it a fixed internship or is there a possibility of engaging you after you leave as well? Most companies also reserve the right to send Pre-Placement Offers (PPOs) to their most high-flying interns. Check out the parameters for those and see if it's something you might be interested in.
Read reviews online to understand if your illusions regarding the profile/company/industry differ from the ground reality. Even if you find that your targeted company is offering no internships, call a representative to make sure of the same and then drop off your resume.
Most companies, when called upon to fill in vacancies, usually turn to their existing database before engaging in a fresh outreach. And how sweet would it be if they do so and find your internship resume on top of the college resume pile?
Online Research for finding internship avenues will typically include scouring the net on any or all of the following:
LinkedIn: Don't just abandon your profile there. Try to secure recommendations from your Professors. Add skills which are relevant and which might get you more traction. Demonstrate your volunteer work, achievements and extra-curricular accomplishments.
Most large organizations (as opposed to start-ups and small businesses) will resort to LinkedIn for fulfilling their internship requirements. So if that's what you are looking for, a stellar LinkedIn profile is your safest bet.
[Btw, we at Hiration also offer professional services when it comes to revamping your LinkedIn profile. Head on over to the website for more!
Glassdoor: In addition to listing out internships from multiple sources (online and offline), Glassdoor's main attraction is that it allows users to search companies based on salaries, reviews and description of interviews and the recruitment process.
Since it aggregates data from users, the figures are broadly accurate (more or less) when it comes to larger corporates. But for smaller companies and in cases where very few users report data, the outcome is not that favorable.
Internships.com: Probably the biggest source of internships primarily because it's free to post listings on its portal. Moreover, it includes social media integration wherein it gives you a list of your Facebook friends who are/were associated with a particular company.
Internmatch.com: A slightly modified version of internships.com, it allows employers to post up to 10 listings for free. With a database of listings sourced from 30,000 companies, it specializes in internships and entry-level jobs.
Idealist.com: Specializing in the non-profit sector, Idealist includes both paid and free internships around the world.
Once your research has taken off, it's time to tap into your network and see what all you can extract from there. Your network might typically include:
- Career Center at your School/College: Not only do most vacancies are first posted there, the good folks over at most Career Centers also lend a hand in creating or proofreading your college resume.
- Professors/Faculty: Most Professors that we know want nothing more than to genuinely help anyone and everyone who approaches them for help. If you earnestly ask the Faculty members for help, you'll undoubtedly get some valuable insights.
- Senior/Alumni Students: Your immediate seniors will always be one step ahead of you, so our advise is to leverage that. Additionally, their internships are fresh and their insights will be more relevant to you than anyone else's.
- Resume Experts @ Hiration: If none of that works out, our Resume Experts will be at your service 24x7! Just shout out in the comments below or visit our website in case you have any doubts pertaining to your college resume.
Lastly, nothing beats more than perserverance. If you've zeroed in on a company or two for which you'd be willing to give your heart and soul, start cold calling them.
What if they are not looking for interns? Doesn't matter. Drop in your resume anyway. A lot of companies rely on their existing database first whenever they want to fulfill their hiring requirements, and it wouldn't hurt if your resume is just there for them to peruse in such a situation.
Be an avid follower of the company and its initiatives. Keeping yourself up-to-date will benefit you sooner or later. Maybe there's an event or a job fair happening nearby in which the said organization is participating. Well, what are you waiting for?
If there's anything stopping you - ranging from anxiety to just plain laziness - just ask yourself: what's the worst that could happen? You'll not get the job? But if you are sitting on your butt, it's going to happen anyway!
Drafting the Perfect Internship Resume for College - How to Begin
What's the difference between an internship resume and a college resume?
Before you get down to the nitty-gritty of it, let's clear a few things:
- Don't compare your college resume with a professional who has had years of experience. A simple Google search will give you thousands of sample resumes and layouts, and assigning that as a benchmark for yourself will give you nothing but anxiety.
You are still in college. Your experience in the real world is, in all probability, limited. The objective is to showcase that in the best possible way and not instead get drowned out by other resumes and give up altogether.
- Recruiters won't be expecting you to have an extensive professional experience. That's the major difference between an internship resume and a regular college resume.
Your end goal is the college resume which you'll finish after graduation. The objective of the internship resume is to pack your final college resume with enough relevant experience that gives you an edge over others.
But even if the internship resume is just a means to an end, it doesn't mean that you can compromise on the quality of the same.
You can check out our guide to Resume Layouts to get an idea on how to proceed. Our advice: stick to a traditional reverse-chronological format for your college resume.
We wouldn't have included a section on Contact Information for your Internship Resume if we didn't think it was important.
But we've often seen people make the silliest of mistakes even when it comes to something as basic as adding their contact details in their resume. And when people with 10-15 years of professional experience can commit these mistakes...
Oh well. So if you are a college student who messed that up as well, we'd recommend you to not be too hard on yourself. Instead, read on.
- Name, Contact Number and Email: Sure, that's basic stuff. But are you sure your email isn't email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org?
You are not in high school anymore. In case you don't have a professional-looking email id, now's the perfect time to go and make one.
You don't want to be applying for jobs after college using an id like email@example.com, y'know?
Address: Don't include your entire residential address even if you are applying for internships in the same city. Just the area and postal code will do.
Drop your current location in case you are open to internships outside your city, or you can include the same with a caveat stating that you are willing to relocate.
Misc. (Skype, LinkedIn, Blog/Portfolio, etc.): Include your Skype handle only if a telephonic round will be a part of the recruitment process. Companies usually specify the same in the Job Description in case it is.
A Skype handle only makes sense if you're locating. In case you are applying for internships in the same city, mentioning Skype will not add any value.
Include your LinkedIn only if you think it will bolster your application. If you last updated your LinkedIn months/years ago, you can refrain from including it in your resume for college.
You can definitely showcase your portfolio or provide links of your blogs, but only if there's relevance between that and the internship which you're targeting.
For instance, if you are targeting a Finance internship but you also maintain a blog in which you document all your favourite recipes, do us a favour and don't include it on top along with the rest of your contact details.
Do that only if it's relevant, or if you think it will complement your application in any way. In all other cases, you can add a separate section of Hobbies or Interests in the end and include all such points there.
One major area in which a standard professional resume differs from a college resume is the Education section.
Or more specifically, the order in which this section appears in your student resume.
Since recruiters won't expect your resume to be filled with multiple job experiences, you can lead the resume with your Education section. But even then, there isn't a single way to go about it.
Let us clarify that through an example:
University of Berkeley
BA Economics (Hons.)
Expected to graduate in '19
On the face of it, there's nothing wrong with this. It's just...perfectly average.
But you don't want perfectly average, do you? You want to knock 'em out of the park. Also keep in mind that in the absence of a Professional Experience section, your Education section becomes the most critical section of your college student resume.
List out anything and everything that you have done till date and categorize them broadly into Education, Co-curricular Activites and Extra-curricular Activities.
An example will clear that right out.
Bachelor of Economics (Honours) | University of Berkeley May ‘11 – Jun ‘14
• Selected out of 10,000+ applicants to receive an additional 30% scholarship owing to a stellar academic & work profile
• 1 of 5 to be shortlisted out of 120+ applicants for a 1-year internship with the Microsoft Strategy team post-graduation
• 1 of 3 mentees to be selected out of 80 applicants by US’ top investor Jack Welch, former Chairman & CEO of General Electric
• ecured 1st Rank in a batch of 80 for Micro-Economics (96%) and Mathematics (86%)
• Event Head | University of Berkeley
Led a team of 25 members across 10+ colleges to develop a unique brand positioning & boost y-o-y participation by 15%
Strategized marketing by liaising with the Core Cultural Committee for UoB’s largest official annual cultural fest with a 1000+ footfall
Championed the debating event as Director Coordinator to execute marketing, tie-up with colleges, reach out to the volunteers, etc.
Conducted personal college visits to coordinate with individual Debating Society Presidents, develop interest & enhance participation
• Head, Organising Committee, National Seminar | University of Berkeley
Led 30+ members to host a delegation of 100+ eminent academicians like Noam Chomsky & leaders from Morgan Stanley
• Awarded Bronze at the Vocal Music Festival across California & secured a top 10 rank at the American Idol Season 10
• Selected as a core committee member of the economics debating club & collaborated with The Economics Club of Harvard
• Executive Member – Core Committee, Music Society | Core member, Football and Swimming team | Community School, San Francisco*
Get it? Merely mentioning you will receive so-and-so degree will put you at par with thousands of other applicants who are doing the same. The snapshot above is how you break free from the competition.
Nothing will be too big or too small for this section. Since it's only your Education experience, recruiters aren't expecting anything flashy as well. But before they decide whether or not to invest in you, it'd help if they know you showed some level of initiative too.
You can additionally provide a breakdown of all the modules and coursework across the duration of your degree. This will help in case you are looking for internships in the field of your major.
You can customize what you include here on the basis of where you are applying. For instance, there might be some academic projects which you completed but which are only relevant for a few specific profiles.
A Section-wise Breakdown
College Resume Summary/Objective
This section will go at the top and will be a game-changer, whether you like it or not. We've seen a lot of students spending countless hours working on just this one section but still not getting the results.
Are you also one of them? What do you think is going wrong? What is it that you can do better?
Let's start off with the difference between Resume Summary & Resume Objective. How do you tell which one to use?
Whenever we come across people who can't figure out the distinction between the two, we like to distort a famous JFK saying along the lines of 'Ask not what the company can do for you but what you can do for the company.'
Many people mindlessly start working on the Resume Objective section without bothering to find out if that's even needed. Place yourself in the shoes of the recruiter: what will you do with an applicant who is sending you a list of all the things that s/he is looking for?
Something like this.
> Dedicated Finance major looking for an engaging internship to enhance skills and gain experience.
And what if there's another candidate who details the skills that s/he possesses, only to explain how it can be used to achieve organizational goals?
Something like this:
*Dyanmic and detail-oriented English major looking to leverage his stellar communication skills as an Intern to create engaging and SEO-driven content for large-scale conglomerates. Demonstrated ability to efficiently work in teams as a zonal-level lacrosse player at University of Berkeley. *
Who will be prioritized? Whose resume will end up in the 'Awwyeaaah' pile? The latter of course.
Try to convince the recruiter how you'll play an instrumental role in helping them achieve their goals. Merely sending a bucket list of items that you are looking for won't serve any purpose.
That's the major difference between a College Resume Summary and a College Resume Objective section. You should ideally be targeting the former. The skills that you possess will remain contant in both the cases, but the emphasis should be on the needs of the recruiter, not your own.
You can check out our in-depth guide on the Resume Objective section for more insights on how to optimize this section as per your requirements.
Our first advice would be to not get overwhelmed by the resumes which you see online. Most of them are standard professional resumes and nowhere related to what you are looking for.
Even the recruiter knows that your resume won't be a powerhouse of profiles. They know that you're looking for internships so that you can beef up your resume, and not the other way around.
Consequently, you can include all odd jobs which you have done till date, which might or might not be related to the internship profile which you are targeting. The idea here is not to look like you were born for this internship. The idea is just to showcase a certain level of initiative from your end.
Besides odd jobs, you can additionally add your experiences in the non-profit sector, or any voluntary work which you might have done previously.
As you are done with internships, you can gradually add them to your resume to convert your internship resume into a standard college resume.
Since the internship resume will not exceed one page, you can spruce up the points you frame using action verbs. Check out our guide on Power Verbs for more tips on jazzing up your college student resume.
The objective is to transform your previous job roles, and your resume in general, from a responsibility-based one to something which is more aligned towards achievements.
Key Skills section in an Internship Resume
Like in a standard professional resume, the Key Skills section in a resume for college will play a crucial role in getting you those shortlists that you deserve.
Most people tend to fall on either extreme of the spectrum: either they'll miss the Key Skills section altogether or they'll relentlessly stuff the resume with keywords. Both of these options won't really cut it.
The biggest and most underrated source of relevant keywords is the Job Description, and it's surprising how often it is excluded from the entire resume writing process. You MUST NOT send in your resume without consulting the Job Description once, to check if the skills which the recruiter is looking for has been catered to or not.
Prioritize your leadership and professional skills (project management, team management, stakeholder management, etc.) over soft skills (coordination, communication, etc.). Try to establish a cause-effect relationship to explain how the skills that you possess can help you achieve organizational goals (which can be better catered to in the Resume Summary section)
In order to gain better clarity on how the skills that you have incorporated can help you get shortlisted, you can check out this great resource. It analyzes the Job Description against which you made you resume and gives you an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) score, along with instructions on how you can optimize your resume further.
For a greater understanding of the role which the Key Skills section plays in your resume, check out our comprehensive guide on Resume Key Skills.
Additional Sections in your Resume for College
Many college students/freshers struggle to reach the end of page for their resume. They'd rather incorporate junk points and add unnecessary fluff just so they can stretch the resume to 1 complete page and get a false sense of accomplishment.
But in the macro picture, that strategy often backfires.
To avoid that, keep the requirements of the recruiter in mind before you take a call on what to add and what to avoid. Additionally, a bit of research can go a long way in customizing your resume for college to your target profile.
For instance, if the organization that you are targeting has an unofficial lacrosse team which plays with teams from other corporates, and if you also indulged in that sport in school/college, you can go ahead and mention the same in glowing letters.
That's an example of a relevant key skill which specifically targets the organization of your choosing. But that won't happen in every case, right?
For all other cases, it helps if you can quantify your achievements and provide detailed information around the same. The idea is to showcase your skills in all arenas, and to convince the recruiter that if you excelled in, say, A, you also have the ability to transfer those skills to excel in B.
An example will clear that right out.
HOBBIES: Photography, music, travelling, reading books
Most resumes, especially college student resumes, are flooded with Additional Sections along these lines. They add zero value to your resume in general and your application in particular. Students prefer to take the easy way and stuff their resumes with fluff points and sections like these to stretch the document to one page.
Don't. Do. That.
Now take a look at this:
- Photography: Owner and administrator of ZYX Photography Page on Facebook with 7k+ likes
- Travelling: Visited 6 countries in the last 1 year and documented my travels on my travel blog (insert link) with an average traffic of 50k users/month
You are going a step beyond what's expected and detailing how you excel in those hobbies. A recruiter reading this will instantly conclude that you'd also be able to transfer these skills in the workplace to help him achieve organizational goals.
In addition to the Hobbies section for your college student resume, you can add more sections around Projects, Publications or Extra-curricular Activities. The idea is to stay relevant and keep the requirements of the recruiter in mind at every step of making a resume for internship.
The Final Touch: What to do before sending your Resume for an Internship?
Since in all probability, you'll be sending your resume for college for the first time, there are a few things which you can keep in mind before you do. Any slack when it comes to these factors will lead to outright rejection.
It sure would be unfortunate if you spent all those hours working on the perfect resume for college but due to something so insignificant, you are out of the race, right?
Here it goes.
We cannot stress this enough. A single typo or error in your 1-pager internship resume can spell doom. And why shouldn't it? If you can't write a 1-page document, about yourself, without errors, why should the recruiter think you'll excel in other work?
A lot of college resumes are trashed even before they land on the table of a human recruiter because the ATS screens all intern resumes for errors. An extra 10 minutes spent proofreading your internship resume will automatically place you above a lot of those candidates.
Nothing is more futile than spending countless hours on your resume for college and blindly sending it anywhere and everywhere.
Tweaking your college student resume a bit, depending on the target job role and the organization, will mean so much to the recruiter. Given the sheer volume of college resumes that they process on a daily basis, they can find out if you made the effort to tailor your resume according to the job role, or whether that application was selected out of 20 others and you just hit 'send resume'.
More often than not, the JD will specify the format in which the recruiter wants your college resume. Stick to that.
In the absence of any instruction, you can send a .pdf format with minimal formatting along with a .docx file, just to be sure. A lot depends on the ATS which a company deploys to parse and process internship resumes.
Make sure that you don't go overboard with the formatting when it comes to the resume for an internship. An ATS is designed to parse only basic text - while extensive formatting might look jazzy on paper, it's going to be useless if your college resume is going to get tossed in the bin because of that.
HIRATION PRO-TIP: while we are it, do us a favor and don't name your internship resume file as, well, 'Internship Resume'. Your file will land in a folder with hundreds of other college resumes, and a title like that won't help. Keep it basic with something like 'Name_Internship Resume'.
Subject Line for emailing your College Resume
We'll keep this short. For any internship resume queries, a rule of thumb is to place yourself in the shoes of the recruiter.
While submitting your resume for college, what kind of a subject line will ease the recruiter's burdern the most?
Keep It Simple Silly. The objective here is to be short but precise. You can go with 'Application for Finance Intern - FirstName_LastName' or something along those lines. You're fine as long as you've mentioned your name and the purpose of sending the email in the subject line .
That's the last thing which you can do to dramatically increase your chances of getting a shortlist. A personalized cover letter addressed to the recruiter will work wonders to your application.
You can refer to our comprehensive guide on writing a brilliant cover letter for the same.
ATS Optimization for your Internship Resume
Keywords. Keywords. Keywords.
But that doesn't mean blatantly stuffing your college resume with them. Any HR worth his/her salt won't take more than 10 seconds to figure out if you're guilty of that - and if you are...bye bye cruel world.
Scan the Job Description to get an idea of the keywords which are on top of the recruiter's priority list, and make sure you organically place them on your own resume for an internship.
When it comes to assigning the priority order for keywords, professional skills will come before soft skills. And while we are at it, don't lie. Mention only those keywords which you think you can justify at the time of the interview, or during the internship itself.
Remember, your goal is not to get shortlisted. It's to bag that sweet little internship - and that includes the interview as well.
Sanitizing your digital presence
Gone are the days when internships were assumed to be light and carefree. Companies approach all interns as potential employees - which means they are put through the same recruitment criteria.
And that typically includes a verification of your online presence. Sanitizing Facebook, being a personal social network, is optional - just make sure there's nothing too incriminating.
It's LinkedIn that counts. Make sure you've a LinkedIn profile before you send out your internship resume. In addition to that, you can have a blog or a portfolio where you showcase your best work. That will only add more brownie points to your application.
To Sum Up
Internships can be a rewarding experience and can set you up on the path to professional success - provided you lay the foundations of the same during college.
An internship may look futile, and making an internship resume even more so, but the truth is, in the present scenario, a few stellar internships while you are in college will do wonders for you down the line.
Got an internship tale of your own? Still left with some doubts on making the perfect resume for internship? Give us a shout-out in the comments and our resume experts will get back to you within 24 hours!