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Do Internships Count as Work Experience?

Updated on December 8, 2019
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I enjoy sharing my knowledge about career progression and development.

It's all about making sure you get the details right for a successful resume and job application!
It's all about making sure you get the details right for a successful resume and job application! | Source

Now before we get straight into 'whether does an internship count as work experience?'.

Let's first be on the same page about exactly what an internship actually is.

The general definition of what an internship runs along the lines of:

A set placement within a workplace environment offered by businesses and employers to provide students (typically undergraduates) and those wishing to change career paths exposure to a particular industry.

Now it doesn't matter how long it ran on for - whether it was a week, three months or a year. It doesn't really even matter if it was paid or unpaid either.

Are Internships 'Actually' Considered Work Experience for Resumes and Job Applications?

So that basically answers it right there in our definition above of 'whether an internship counts as work experience'.

They absolutely do count.

Internships present themselves as the perfect opportunity for a foot in the door.

They offer the perfect solution for the classic problem of getting a job that wants experience, but how are you meant to get the job if you have no experience in the first place.

You can pretty much consider it like a trade-off.

The reason you did the internship is to show future employers that you have relevant work experience in their industry and field (you might even end up landing a full-time position with the company you interned with).

However, typically to get that internship placement, you usually take less pay (or even go unpaid and have transport costs reimbursed) in exchange for the insight and skills that the organization is offering.

A win-win scenario.

Awesome! So internships can 100% be considered work experience.
Awesome! So internships can 100% be considered work experience. | Source

How to Present Your Internship Work Experience in Resumes & Job Applications

No doubt, you are either in the process of currently writing up your resume, in the middle of a job application or wondering if you can refer back to it as potentially relevant experience.

Most likely, it certainly will.

As long as you have spent time working in their environment (not necessarily physically, there is plenty of online work from home, remote internships kicking around), develop working relationships with their employees (no matter how brief) and getting involved in their agenda whether it is paid or unpaid - you can count it.

Heck, they don't really even have to label it internship (although it can help).

Now, you know you can use it.

What's the best way to present it in your resume or job application?

Make it sound like a real job.

  • List it under the work experience column
  • List the experiences you had working there and how they relate to the new job you are applying for
  • Use language that dictates responsibility and "adds value".

How to Include an Internship on a Resume?

This is an entirely made up Internship Work Experience example, that you can use as a template.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Internship [May 17- Dec 17]

Random SEO company, random address.

SEO marketing assistant; working with an SEO manager, acquiring hands-on experience dealing with set clients and targets.

  • Conducted weekly Technical SEO reports and solved Metadata issues resulting in a 22.7% increase in organic traffic
  • Actively sought influencers, bloggers, and websites to promote -building do follow and no follow links, increasing Moz Trust (from 0.7 to 3.2).
  • Contributed to group discussions and collaborations from insights gathered through a range of digital marketing channels.

So when it comes to inserting the internship under the work experience page, it follows suit with the other jobs you've held (follow it in the same format), just make sure you state that it was an internship.

You can see the top line just states the title of the job. The second line goes on to state the name of the company and where it was based.

We then go on to give an overview of the overall role of the internship and then each bullet point should highlight a quantifiable achievement if you can.

When to Include the Internship and When to Hold Back

Just because you 'can' include an internship in the work experience section doesn't mean you always should.

Only include it if you can present it in a manner that will strengthen your overall resume or application for that specific job.

To take a somewhat extreme example, it's hard to see how an internship at a local beauty salon will help your resume or job application for when it comes to applying to be an accountant. That said, even then, if you are don't feel like you have much to include on your resume, something is always better than nothing.

Generally speaking, the more relevant the internship is to the job role you are applying for (or at least how well you can tailor it) the better.

Wrapping it up: What to Consider with Internships for Resumes & Job Applications

So 'yes' ultimately when it comes to the resume or the job application you can count your internship as professional experience (and not under the same section such as 'activities' where you have also stuck your volunteer work).

The only time that I would say you could not. Is if they explicitly state in the job listing that internships are not considered (and I don't think you will ever come across one that says that) to be so.

It's your job now to make sure the internship in the job application or resume comes across as best as you can.

1. Your internship does count. Make sure you place in the relevant section of your resume and job application form.

2. Make the most out of it. Tailor the experiences you had, the skills you learned directed towards the job you are applying for.

3. Word it like a 'real' job. Let them know the skills you have learned from the experience, the responsibilities you held.

4. Know when to use it and when not to. Most times, you can use the internship you had in the application but avoid using it when it makes no sense to the overall application.

Summary: Do Internships Count as Work Experience?

Hopefully, you have got a better bearing of whether do internships count as work experience?

Most of the time they do, unless the job application explicitly says they do not count forms of internships as work experience.

Even if that is the case, you can still 'sell' the internship as being a valuable asset to your overall application.

You can do this by mentioning it within your resume, make reference to it in your job application, interview and much more.

If it is something that is valuable and strengthens your profile then make reference to it.

It might be a case that they explicitly don't want you to refer to your internship, in which case you shouldn't.

However, to avoid that aspect entirely.

You could simply mention my time spent as 'x' in company 'y' as opposed to my internship spent doing 'x' at company 'y'.

Ultimately, let us know how you got on with the job application and what reference was made about your internship (if any) in the comments section below. Remember though, there are a number of signs after an interview that you will want to look out for to see if you managed to land the placement.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Bradley Morrison


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