Dear Niamh,

Q: I’m about to finish my summer internship and I’m having a hard time figuring out what new skills I’ve gained or what I’ve learned this summer. How can I communicate the value of this summer experience to future employers?

Dear Student,

While approaching the end of your summer experience, it is very important to carve out some time for yourself to stop and reflect on your experience. Follow the three steps below to start the process off on the right foot. 

  1. Think about moments, accomplishments, and even conflicts that occurred over the summer which will serve as handy stories to share with employers in future interviews.
  2. Reflect on the work environment you just experienced and assess whether the it met your preferred work style.
  3. Identify new transferable skills you gained and how to highlight those skills in your updated resume.

DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE

In future interviews, employers will be interested to hear about your past experiences. Often, they will ask behavioral questions designed for you to share stories from your past that showcase who you are as a potential employee.

Common situations employers may ask about include:

  • The most challenging/difficult aspect of your internship
  • The experience from the internship that makes you proud
  • A time you explained a concept to a colleague
  • A time you solved a problem
  • A time you displayed initiative

Take some time to think through stories from this summer that you can share with employers and practice articulating them out loud. To structure your answers, use the SARA (Situation, Action, Results, Application) model (under Behavioral Questions).

DETERMINE YOUR PREFERENCES

It is important to reflect on the work environment of your summer experience in order to determine whether the environment met your preferred work style, which will inform your job/internship search moving forward.

Think about your experience as it relates to the following categories:

  • How formal was your work environment?
  • Did your internship require you to work more collaboratively or independently?
  • Was your experience somewhat structured or unstructured?
  • Was your supervisor hands-off or very involved in your work?

A work environment that meets your preferred work style is essential to your productivity and satisfaction at work. Thinking back on your summer internship, determine whether the factors above are reflective of just your particular organization, department, or team, or of the industry as a whole. Answering these questions will help you seek ideal environments in the future and conduct a more intentional job/internship search moving forward. 

IDENTIFY TRANSFERABLE SKILLS

One exciting aspect of completing your summer is having a new experience to add to your resume! During your summer, you gained new skills and abilities, which can be transferred to a wide range of different jobs and industries. Take time to identify those skills and reflect on all the tasks and projects you completed. Then highlight these skills through well-crafted bullet points for your resume.

To develop strong resume bullet points, follow the STAR method to describe the context of your work, your actions, and how your actions had a positive impact on the organization.

Stay in Touch!

For more tips, check out CCE’s Resumes with Impact: Creating Strong Bullet Points and come in with meet with a career counselor to get your summer reflection work started.