10 Tips to Polish Your Resume Before Interning Abroad

A resume is an essential part of every international internship application. It’s a way to quickly summarize your skills and experiences, and usually your first chance to impress a potential internship host. If you haven’t written a resume before, check out SuccessWorks’ Resume Samples and Tool Guides to get started! Once you have a draft, use these tips to make sure that you’re on the right track.

  1. Make it easy to read

    Your resume should have a good balance of text and white space. Use a clear and professional font (Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial) in a reasonable size (10-12), and break up your text into meaningful sections (Education, Work Experience, etc.). This doesn’t mean that your resume needs to be boring! Thoughtfully incorporating colors or graphics can help set your application apart.

  2. Tailor your resume to each opportunity

    Review the internship post to see what the organization is looking for in a candidate and use similar wording to highlight your relevant skills and experiences in your resume. Reflecting these traits will help them see that you’re a good fit for the organization.

  3. Keep it brief

    The resume you submit should be a single page that lists only your experiences that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. Including your LinkedIn profile URL on your resume is a great way to provide additional information without it being too overwhelming.

  4. Highlight your accomplishments

    If you received an award or recognition for one of your work or internship experiences, make sure to mention it! When talking about the projects you’ve completed, quantify your descriptions to show the scope of what you’ve accomplished. “Coordinated orientation for incoming students” isn’t bad, but “Coordinated half-day orientation for 64 incoming students” is more precise and gives a better idea of your abilities.

  5. Craft your job descriptions carefully

    When listing previous work, internship, or volunteer experiences, try to start sentences with powerful verbs like “lead”, “managed”, “communicated”, or “created”. This will help to emphasize the skills you learned, not only the tasks you completed, and make your application memorable.

  6. Cut the fluff

    Obvious phrases like “references available upon request” and clichés like saying you’re “hardworking” or “detail-oriented” don’t really add anything to your resume. Instead, focus on showing your dedication and attention to detail in your job descriptions and the care you put into your application materials.

  7. Include intercultural and international experience

    If you’re part of an internationally focused student org, speak more than one language, or have lived or traveled extensively abroad, your resume should show it! Intercultural communication skills are one of the top qualities internship hosts are looking for, so make sure that your enthusiasm for working with new cultures is clear.

  8. Details matter!

    Grammar and spelling mistakes leave a strong negative impression. Read through your resume multiple times, and have others check as well. Reading your resume aloud can also help you catch mistakes that you wouldn’t otherwise notice!

  9. Saving and submitting your application

    Save your resume as a PDF to avoid formatting issues when it’s opened with different programs, and use a title that includes your name like Smith_John_Resume_2019. Check the file to make sure that it doesn’t have an extra blank page or any formatting issues. If you’re emailing your application materials, make sure to include a brief and professional message introducing yourself and specifying the position that you’re applying for.

  10. Use campus resources!

    All of UW-Madison’s undergraduate schools and colleges have career counselors who can review and give you personalized feedback on your resume and cover letters. Check out careers.wisc.edu to find yours!

And, of course, IIP advisors are always available for advising if you need tips on how to tailor your resume to a particular international internship.