7 Tips For Writing A Canadian Internship Resume

March 28, 2016
Posted in How To Guide, Study & Work


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You’ve probably already planned on completing an internship abroad sometime in the near future. Now, whether you need to complete an internship abroad because you need the credits for University in your home country OR you simply want to see the world while building your resume, you need apply to internships before you can secure anything! While participants in our Student Internship or Hospitality Internship programs will be given resume revision as a part of the services at Stepwest, it can really save time if you have a solid resume all drafted up and ready to go out. That way, the faster your resume can go out to different employers, the faster you can secure your Internship in Canada and start to have your awesome work experience!

Tip #1 – Make Sure It Adheres To Canadian Resume Standards

During our time here at Stepwest, we’ve seen a lot of internship resumes from abroad that were formatted in the style of the participants’ home country. While your internship resume may be acceptable back home, there are certain Canadian resume standards to watch out for when you start to apply for internship positions here. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Absolutely NO pictures of the candidate or other personal information such as age, weight, height, martial status, Social Insurance Number (SIN), etc.
  • Most internship resumes in Canada go by a “chronological order” format, listing the current or most recent work experience first.
  • Another acceptable internship resume format would be a “functional resume”, where your work experiences are categorized by skill set, rather than by employment dates.
  • There may also be sections for volunteer work, skills, qualifications, awards, education, and more.
  • Properly translate names of previous schools and companies you’ve worked for, so that your North American employer will be able to read and understand these institutions.
  • Make sure to write out full names of previous companies or schools instead of abbreviations.
  • Do NOT include the line “References available upon request” or anything along those lines at the bottom. Employers expect that you have references, and putting that there is a waste of valuable resume space.
  • Canadian internship resumes should be 1-2 pages only.

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Tip #2 – Personalize A Generic Resume Template

While it’s a good idea to take a look at templates and to draw some inspiration from them, it’s important to make sure that your final product doesn’t end up looking exactly like the template. Instead, take note of the styles you like, and then create a customized internship resume. To start you off, here is a basic functional resume template.

Also, here is a basic chronological resume templateFill it out with your information and spruce it up to make it more unique. Depending on your desired industry, you may also be allowed to get creative with your header. For more creative fields, try designing a personal logo, and try incorporating an accent colour in a professional colour such as blue or green. Instead of overused fonts like Times New Roman or Arial, go for something clean and professional, but still unique. Some fonts to look into include: Garamond, Cambria, etc. For more examples of good fonts to use, you can refer to this site. 

For examples of more “creative” looking resumes, you can refer here for some inspiration.

Tip #3 – Use the “Action and Result” Method Of Writing

You may choose to list a job and then have some bullet points underneath to describe your tasks and responsibilities on your Canadian internship resume. Or, you may have a very short summary written in a paragraph style. Whatever method you are choosing to describe your previous work experiences, make sure you use the “action and result” method of writing.

How this works is that you describe what action (or tasks) you carried out, and then you describe what the end result was. This is important because many times candidates will lists their tasks but leave out what the end result was and why it is important.

  • For example, instead of saying “Served customers food and drinks as a waitress”, it’s much better to say “Served customers food and drinks in an efficient and friendly manner to ensure customer satisfaction and repeat visits.”

Tip #4 – Stay Professional

We know that your internship in Canada might be your first experience with a formal job. However, it also might not be and in that case, that’s great! However, for younger students with limited work experiences, it’s important to remember to stay professional. This applies to every aspect of your internship in Canada, including your internship resume.

The email that you list on your Canadian internship resume should be changed if it’s too personal or unprofessional. Instead of something like “dogluver09@gmail.com”, opt for an address that only includes your first, last name, and maybe some numbers like “janetsmith09@gmail.com”.

Don’t list your social media profiles, unless if it’s Linkedin. The same idea goes for hobbies and interests. It’s acceptable to list your interests on a Canadian internship resume, but only if they are relevant to the job you are seeking.

  • For example, if you’re applying for a marketing internship, then it would be appropriate to list: “Photography and graphic design” as your interests because they are relevant and perhaps even applicable to the job. Examples of interests NOT to list would be watching movies, hanging out with friends, shopping, or anything along those lines.

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Tip #5 – Use Numbers To Back Yourself Up

Now that you have the whole “action and result” method down, make sure you use numbers on your internship resume to back up your descriptions. Employers tend to favour descriptions that have some sort of a number attached to them, a quantitative measure if you will.

      • For example, it’s better to list “ Attended an average of 5 tables per daily 6 hour shift” as opposed to “Attended tables during daily shifts”.
      • Another example would be “Had an average of 10 transactions hourly by establishing solid communication with prospective clients and by upselling” as opposed to “Sold products by establishing solid communication with prospective clients and by upselling”.

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Tip #6 – Put The Emphasis On Transferable Skills

You might want to get an internship in the finance industry but you may have only worked as a cashier in a clothing store in the past. That’s completely okay! Most employers know that interns generally have limited work experience so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Most of the qualities that they look for in an intern you probably already have: good work ethics, a positive attitude, eagerness to learn, and more. As well, it’s good to list your previous work experiences in a way that puts the emphasis on transferable skills. That way, your potential employer can see how the skills you’ve learned in your past job may help you succeed in your internship in Canada. You can also describe the transferable skills you’ve gained if you have done any volunteer jobs in the past.

Common transferable skills include: interpersonal skills, communication skills (including high level of English), teamwork, leadership, and anything else you think is relevant.

      • For example, if you were a sales associate previously and want a marketing internship: put the emphasis on your knowledge of the customer’s perspective and being able to solve a customer’s problem or concerns (which is the foundation of good marketing)
      • Another example would be if you were a summer camp coordinator but you want a finance internship. It might be a bit far off and less related, but continue to put emphasis on relevant skills and experiences: note that you work well under pressure and are detail oriented when tracking the many participants you had to manage. This can translate well into crunching numbers quickly and accurately for the internship.

Tip #7 – Get A Friend To Give You Feedback

While many candidates will run their internship resumes through spellcheck (and if you haven’t been doing so already, you need to get on that ASAP!), it is always a good idea to get another person to read through it and give you their honest feedback on your internship resume. Try to get a friend or family member that has a high level of English to do this for you. Or better yet, ask a teacher or professor nicely if they would be able to take a quick look as well. It’s very important that there are no mistakes or misspellings in your resume! Everything needs to make sense to another person reading it, which is why it’s appropriate to ask for help.

These are just some general pointers to keep in mind as you prepare your internship resume for your internship in Canada! Ready to start YOUR internship in Canada? We can help by guaranteeing your Canadian internship for you! Every year we help hundreds of international students secure their internship placement either for University credits or because they want to add some professional international experience. Check out the 30+ industries we offer with our Student Internship program or the specific hospitality positions offered with our Hospitality Internship program!

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