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How to prepare a CV for an internship application
An internship is a position of a student or trainee who works in an organisation, with or without pay, to gain work experience. Gaining experience through internships whilst you are studying is a great way to stand out from other graduates who may leave university with no work experience.
An CV for internship applications follows a fairly standard format although you may wish to deviate slightly to reflect the fact that you are likely to have little or no formal work experience.
Examine the job advert
Before you write a single word, you need to take a closer look at the job advert and highlight any key skills or experience that the employer is looking for. Take this sample ad for example:
Everything in this ad should influence how you write your CV. Don’t simply list off the attributes the employer is looking for. Instead, ensure your CV provides examples of how you’ve gained and used those attributes. For example:
- Rather than simply saying you have excellent research skills, explain what type of research you have done and attach examples.
- Rather than simply saying you have strong written communication, explain where you’ve used that skill and provide examples.
The key to writing a strong CV is to SHOW, not TELL.
1. Contact information
- Phone number
- Email address
It’s really important to employers that their interns have a genuine interest in and passion for the industry in which they operate. Your Twitter account is a great way to demonstrate this. Follow influencers, share material that shows you’re up-to-date with industry topics, and join in the discussion.
“Tweet your opinions with courage and conviction. If there’s a discussion happening about a hot topic in your industry, tweet about it. If you put something succinctly and others agree this can help start an interaction, or gain you new industry followers. Then when you tweet about the roles you’re looking for, you’ll be alerting people who are already aware that you know your stuff – nothing better than a giving a strong first impression before you’ve even entered the interview.”
Your LinkedIn account can be used in much the same way. In addition, you can use LinkedIn to create a more substantial ‘online CV’ with more portfolio samples. Find out more: Building a killer LinkedIn profile to complement your CV
2. Personal statement
Use your personal statement to introduce yourself, state a few reasons why the employer should keep reading, and explain what you’re looking for.
Try to address what you believe are the strongest requirements for the job. These will be the ones that you’d guess to be requisite requirements – for example, studying for a particular degree, or having strong communication skills. Avoid simply telling an employer that you have a soft skill such as communication. Instead, provide examples of when and how you’ve communicated effectively.
Because you won’t have a lot of experience, it’s worth specifically listing off the key skills that make you a great fit for the job. Again, for soft skills, explain how you gained / practised those skills.
4. Work experience
Whilst a regular CV typically lists work experience in reverse chronological order (most recent first), a CV for internship applications may split up relevant from non relevant experience (if you have any at all).
So, for example, a legal intern might split their experience into legal / non legal, then list each of these sections in reverse chronological order.
For experience that isn’t directly relevant, highlight the skills that you acquired / used which are transferable to the current role.
If you have absolutely no work experience at all, our School Leaver’s CV has some great examples of alternative types of experience you can use.
List any qualifications you are currently studying for, with the status of those (e.g. “I am in my final year which ends June 2020.”)
List past qualifications, highlighting any that are particularly relevant to the role. Some non-legal qualifications are good complements for law. For example:
- English – good for written and verbal communication with clients and colleagues
- Maths – essential in almost any area of law
- Philosophy – teaches students how to construct a watertight argument
- Business – helps students have better commercial awareness
- Marketing – can be useful as a secondary role within the law firm
6. Hobbies and interests
Focus on hobbies and interests that further demonstrate skills the employer is looking for. Additionally, mentioning sports and fitness activities which you enjoy can help show you take an interest in your personal health and well being.
There is no need to complete this section or even include it as all employers will ask for references when they offer the job anyway. However, mentioning that you are confident a positive reference will be available from a respectable source can go a long way.