Ask LH: How Should I Describe Internships On My Resume?

How To Write A Resume

Dear Lifehacker, I'm currently undertaking an internship within the accounting industry. Generally, these are named "vacation" programs in Australia. I'm wondering how I should describe this role on my resume? ('Vacationer', 'intern' or 'summer analyst'?) I'm considering applying for positions in other industries as well as overseas. Any thoughts? Thanks, Curious Intern

Intern image from Shutterstock

Dear CI,

Of the above phrases, "intern" is probably the most common worldwide, so go with what's familiar. You should also avoid the temptation of "puffing up"your position with a more robust job title — all it takes is a call to your previous employer for the embellishment to be rumbled.

With that said, adding a few words to the title to communicate your capabilities isn't a bad idea. As the founder of resume-analysing web app RezScore explains:

[T]he word “intern” or “trainee” doesn’t exactly convey how a graphic designer might have spent 30 hours working directly under one of the most prominent professional designers in the country. In this case, “Graphic Design Apprentice to John Designer” may be a better title.   If you have a very specific established job title, however, you can just append more descriptive terms following it. Just make sure that these terms are relevant to the job you are listing and the job you are applying for. For example: "Staff Writer" vs. "Staff Writer on Web Technology and Social Media" (You stand out thematically from other "staff writers".) or "Production Assistant"” vs. "Production Assistant for Video Editing" (You do more than just make coffee and run errands.)

Ultimately though, the title is unimportant. What matters is what you write beneath it: namely, your chief responsibilities and what you actually achieved in the role.

As we've noted in the past, your resume needs to be more than a dry list of job descriptions — you need to focus on professional accomplishments. What were the chief results of your day-to-day tasks? What relevant skills are you proficient at? These are the kinds of facts that prospective employers will be looking for.

Naturally, don't include tasks that don't apply to the job you're applying for. Instead, you should focus on the aspects of the internship that make you look like an intelligent, hardworking prospect. And remember, the resume is just to get your foot in the door — the real work starts during the actual interview. You can find a huge array of tips via our Job Interview section. Good luck!

Cheers Lifehacker

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