Internships and placements

How to write a CV for an internship

26 Jan 2024, 15:43

Check out our essential guide on how to write a CV for an internship to help give your application the best chance of standing out to employers.

A CV: learn what to include in your application for work experience

There is no one right way to write a CV for an internship (or another work experience opportunity for that matter). We know that there is nothing scarier than a blank piece of paper, though, and so we provide a handy sample of an internship CV for you to download and use as inspiration. We also answer your internship CV FAQs to make sure you show yourself in the best light.

Jump to: What to include in your CV | If you have no work experience | Best format for your internship CV | CV length | CV contact details | Education history | Work experience and extracurricular activities | CV personal statements | When to write a covering letter | Covering letters for internships

What should and shouldn’t I put on a CV?

A CV for an internship or work experience opportunity should clearly outline:

  • your contact details
  • your education history
  • any work experience or part-time jobs
  • any active involvement in extracurricular activities, eg university societies, community groups such as Scouts, volunteering, Duke of Edinburgh and so on

It’s good to list your additional language skills (if you have them), your IT skills, training in first aid (if you have any) and that you have a full, clean driving licence (if you do).

You can put details of your referees if you like (it is normal practice to include an academic tutor and a former work experience employer, if appropriate), but you can also just write ‘details available on request’. It will depend on the space available.

For CVs in the UK, you shouldn’t include your photograph, date of birth, gender, marital status, ethnic background or religious beliefs.

If you are in the penultimate year of your degree, employers probably won’t be interested in your experiences before you reached sixth form or further education college – unless you have done something particularly unusual or noteworthy.

What if I have no work experience to add to my CV?

Your CV should express evidence of your skills and abilities no matter where you gained them, so emphasise any involvement in clubs and extracurricular activities. Highlight the times you have taken responsibility for something, such as helping organise a charity event. Write about any project work you’ve completed as part of your A levels or degree, calling attention to the skills you’ve gained.

What is the best format for my internship CV?

There are two main ways that you could structure your CV – chronological or skills-based – although you can borrow elements of both. Read our explanation of the difference between chronological and skills-based CVs, but a chronological format is suitable for most university students in their late teens and early twenties and that is what we have used for our template CV.

Internship CV template

In a chronological CV format, details about education, work experience and extracurricular activities are presented in reverse chronological order (most recent first), but you don’t have to stick to set headings. In our template CV, we have used ‘work experience’ for paid experience and ‘volunteering achievements’ for our candidate’s involvement in student societies and her contributing to student and local newspapers. However, if you have a lot of work experience in retail, for example, you could title the section ‘Retail work experience’. If you’ve had a lot of responsibility, you might want a section titled ‘Positions of responsibility’. If you’ve volunteered a lot, you could opt for ‘Voluntary work and fundraising’.

You’re looking to strike a fine balance between depth of information and a concise format. If a part-time job or extracurricular activity is particularly relevant to the employer or the opportunity, give it more space than other facts.

Make sure that your CV is neat and easy to read. For example, use the same typeface and point size for all headings. If you use bullet points, use them in every section. You can add colour to your CV, if it will make it more attractive – just make sure that the document is still legible if it is printed out in black and white.

How long should a CV be?

Either one full page or two full pages. Some employers specify a particular length of CV, so do double check before you send it off.

What contact details should I provide on my CV?

Header section of a CV with contact details.

Make sure that you put down contact details that you use or access regularly. The recruiter is likely to email or phone you to invite you to an interview and you don’t want to miss the communication. However, make sure that your email address and your voicemail greeting sound professional or formal – you want to give the right impression.

If you want to add your LinkedIn handle (if you have one), make sure that your profile tallies with what you have put in your CV.

How do I present my education history?

Section of a CV showing education details.

You don’t need to list all of your GCSEs (or equivalent) – just cite the number and the range of grades.

In most cases, you don’t need to outline all of your degree modules and marks individually. It is usually sufficient to pick out any that are particularly relevant to the opportunity and to provide brief details of any projects. The exception might be if you are applying for a technical role and have done a technical degree (such as in engineering or technology) if you don’t have an opportunity to provide a full transcript. However, even then, if you need lots of space to write about your work experience or extracurricular achievements, it is usually sufficient to pick out modules that are most relevant.

How do I best describe my work experience and extracurricular activities?

Work experience section of a CV.

You need to convey not just what you’ve done, but the skills you developed and what you have achieved. Focus on your personal contribution to whatever it is you’re writing about and stress achievements, results and outcomes, quantifying them wherever possible.

The examples below and above show how you can interweave your skills into the description of the tasks you completed and how you can quantify your achievements.

However, you will need to amend your CV for each individual opportunity that you apply for. Read each job description and use the employer's language when describing your achievements. For example, if they look for 'planning and organisation', make sure you use the words 'planned' and 'organised' in your CV. If they have used the term 'time management', explain how you managed your time. This will signal to the employer that you are right for the opportunity.

An extracurricular activities section of a CV.

Do I need to include a career aim or personal statement on an internship CV?

Often a career aim or personal statement doesn’t give you a competitive advantage, as most students’ sound remarkably similar: for example, ‘A creative student who can work well in a team seeking a placement’. This is unlikely to strengthen your application and so it is usually better to use the space to expand on your part-time jobs or extracurricular achievements.

The exception to this is if you do not have the opportunity to submit a covering letter or to answer application form questions about your reasons for applying or your career aims.

If you do use a personal statement to introduce yourself, make it very specific to the employer and the opportunity and draw out what it is about you that would make you the best hire.

Next steps

To make the most of the targetjobs platform, make sure to create your free profile. Let us know the sectors and types of roles that interest you, and we’ll recommend advice and events tailored to this.

What about covering letters for internships?

A CV is usually accompanied by a covering letter; the job of a covering letter is to introduce your CV. It highlights your most relevant skills and your enthusiasm for the opportunity. It must be specific to that opportunity and employer; every employer wants to feel wanted. Discover how to write a tailored and specific covering letter for an internship in our dedicated advice feature.

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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