How to write a CV when applying for an Internship: our 8 step guide
- 20th June 2018
- Posted by: Internship in Brighton
- Category: Internship Tips
An internship is a great way to get some experience in an industry that interests you. It is also an opportunity to try a particular company to see if you like their work culture and find out whether you would be a good fit.
But, as a student, your internship might be your very first array into the work force. So when you are ready to apply for internships but maybe lack some experience, how do you write a CV?
Well, CVs are known to be the paper version of the professional you. Also known as curriculum vitae, it should show your probable future employer your history, knowledge, strengths, and overall potential, in a way that makes them want to hire you. If you haven’t worked before in that industry (or at all!) you need to find other ways to shine.
Here is Internship in Brighton’s top 8 tips for writing a CV when applying for your first internship.
1. How long should your CV be?
A successful CV is short and to the point. Make sure your CV gets to the basics across fast. Don’t bore your employers. This means that you need to summarize the most important points in an easy to read way, and it should not take up more than both sides of one A4 page. This is the absolute maximum. Make it shorter if you can.
2. What do employers look for?
Employers look mostly for skills, knowledge, experience, strengths and weaknesses within the role. Try to research the job role, so that you can be very prepared beforehand and even tailor your CV to the job you are applying for. Try to highlight things that are important for that specific position. For example: being part of the drama club in high school might mean you are not shy and good at improvising, so probably you would be great talking to people. So that might be useful to mention if you are applying for a role in a shop or a café. However, if you are going to be coding or programming, the drama club might not be a very relevant experience.
3. Should I add a photo to my CV?
Usually you do not need to add a photo to your CV, although it usually doesn’t hurt to show that you have a presentable and professional appearance. Nowadays, employers will probably search for your information online anyway, so they might find your photo even if you don’t add it to your CV. In that extend, a profile on LinkedIn can show to your employers that you are serious about your future, as well as being a place where you can add the information that doesn’t fit in your CV.
4. Do I have to include my date of birth?
Mostly employers will not care about your age, specially when you are applying for a role which you would be somewhat expected for your experience level. For instance, when you are looking for an internship, make sure the job title doesn’t include “Senior” or “Highly Experienced”, as that does sadly entitle that the company is looking for more of a new member of staff who has been working in the industry for an extended period.
5. Should I mention my interests?
Yes, of course. Show your potential employer your social side. When you are writing a CV for an internship, let the company know what inspires you. The real you, not just the professional you. When you don’t have formal experience in the field, hobbies and interests that possibly relate to the job role can be a great way to have a leg up the competition. For example, some that wants to work in communications or marketing, can proudly talk about their own blog in their CV — especially if they managed to have a readership! Long-term dreams are also welcome, such as an interest in travelling (if you are applying to a multinational company) or what type of jobs you wish to hold in the future.
6. Do I need a cover letter?
A cover letter is a bit of an introduction about you, therefore it tends to be very welcome — when not outright mandatory! Consider it a chance to show your personality and become a human being in the yes of the hiring manager, instead of just another number in the process. Show in your very best words what you like about the role, and how you would be the perfect person to fill that void in the company.
Aim to always start a cover letter with the name of the person who will be responsible for hiring you, if you know it. Your first paragraph should clearly state what job you are applying for. Just remember that the company might be hiring for more than one position at the time, and you want to be considered for the right one. After that, you need to express what you like about the job role and relate it to your previous (formal or informal) experiences.
Quick Tip: Make a note of the company’s newest awards or achievements, and show how “inspired” and impressed you are.
State, then, your strengths and interests, and how they would impact you well in the job role — try to illustrate them with a fact or a story. For example, it’s better to say you have helped your dad to fill out his taxes, then just state you are interested in tax law. Finish the cover letter with a thank you and and invitation for the employer to contact you. But make sure your cover letter is only one page long! No longer.
7. What about references?
It is a clever idea to have two references at the end of your CV. They are may be used when the employer is ready to give you a final offer on the job role. The people that you use for your references should be able to give the future employer a better insight of your professional capabilities or work ethic. In the case of an internship, you could even list a teacher or a professor who can attest to some of the strengths that would be invaluable in that role — just make sure to ask them beforehand if they are ok to be included.
8. What if I have no experience at all?
If you lack the professional experience, try and show the employers your capabilities through your work ethic in your strengths. Don’t let the fact that you don’t have a lot of experience make you feel like you cannot take on an internship. Be creative with your CV. Nevertheless, summer internships or work experience will bulk up your CV. Student internships (paid or not paid) will help show yourself the requirements for a job role that you are hoping for. Show, through the use of your classes at university or school, the skills you have required and how they will relate to the working environment. Before you know it, you will have gained the capabilities to be able to pursue a far more experienced job role in the future.