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Career Exploration and Success

Prepare for the Internship/Job Search

Preparing for the internship and job search is a process that begins early in your college career. Use this section as a resource for building and promoting your experience. Here’s how to get started!

Resumes and Cover Letters

Your resume is a marketing tool representing a very special product: you! It is a succinct outline of your knowledge, skills, abilities, experience, and accomplishments relevant to your employment goals. Resumes are used to screen applicants for interviews and determine which candidates most thoroughly match the employer’s needs. This is done through a combination of human and electronic screening methods.

“Transferable skills” are the skills you acquire from part-time and summer jobs, internships, externships, research projects, coursework, roles in campus clubs/organizations, and class projects that transfer to future employment settings. Common examples of transferable skills include communication, interpersonal, leadership, organizational, and technical skills. You can identify important transferable skills for an internship or job by taking note of keywords and phrases in the job description.

Check all the skills you have learned or demonstrated through your employment, campus activities, or academic projects. This will help you choose which skills are most relevant and should be included on your resume. Meet with a career advisor at Career Exploration and Success to further tailor your skills to your target industry and employers.

Start Here: Begin with Self-Evaluation

  • Think about your experiences, including internships, part-time and summer jobs, volunteer work, extracurricular activities, research, leadership, courses, class projects, and relevant independent projects.
  • Assess what you have accomplished and the skills you have developed in each position.

Next: Research Your Target Market

  • Meet with a career advisor, attend our workshops and events, and review career-related resources online, including FirstHand.
  • Use the internship and job listings in Rutgers Handshake to determine the knowledge, skills, and abilities employers are seeking.
  • Compare your qualifications to the requirements highlighted in your chosen internship and job descriptions.

Identify Your Transferable Skills

    • Advising
    • Presenting
    • Articulating
    • Public speaking
    • Explaining
    • Training
    • Instructing
    • Translating
    • Persuading/selling
    • Writing/editing
    • Relating well with customers and co-workers
    • Listening to others’ opinions and concerns
    • Responding to concerns
    • Resolving disputes or conflicts
    • Assisting others
    • Motivating individuals and/or groups
    • Working as a team player
    • Decision-making
    • Delegating
    • Evaluating
    • Initiating
    • Managing
    • Motivating others
    • Planning
    • Problem-solving
    • Supervising
    • Team building
    • Following through
    • Planning
    • Meeting deadlines
    • Setting goals
    • Multitasking
    • Time management
    • Programming
    • Troubleshooting
    • Developing databases
    • Applying software/hardware knowledge
    • Overseeing network administration
    • Conducting data mining
    • Developing system architectures

Select a Resume Format

Chronological—This is the recommended format for most internship and job seekers, including undergraduate and graduate students as well as recent graduates. Educational and work experiences are presented in reverse chronological order.

Functional—This format is most often used by experienced professionals, career changers, and individuals with employment gaps. It emphasizes marketable skill sets and areas of expertise while de-emphasizing chronology.

Combination—This hybrid format merges the chronological and functional by highlighting marketable skill sets and providing a brief employment history. It can be used by all job seekers.

Tips to Strengthen your Resume

Utilize Keywords
Keywords are nouns, phrases, industry “buzz words,” or acronyms used within a particular field, job description, or list of employer requirements. The keywords in a resume give important information about the job seeker. These include things like: technical expertise, management knowledge, education and training, and/or work history. Employers use resume screening software to identify qualified candidates. If your resume includes job-specific keywords, then it is more likely to be selected.

What Are the Right Keywords?
No set list of keywords works for all jobs. The list varies from one job opening to the next, depending on the job requirements. Job postings are great for identifying important keywords and will tell you exactly what employers want. You can even print out a posting, highlight keywords, and use it as a checklist of keywords for your resume.

Placement of Keywords in your Resume
Weave keywords into the statements/descriptions in your resume. For example, you could talk about your management skills in one of your summary statements (“skilled at project management, conflict resolution, and internal communications”). Also, look for ways to make lists of your keywords under logical headings. For example, you could put all of your computer applications under a “Computer Skills” heading.

Resume Keyword List by Functional Area
Integrate keywords so your resume will get selected during a keyword search. It’s important to note that although there are some common keywords for all of these professions, there are also specific keywords depending on area of specialization. Be certain to include the right keywords for your career. Be certain to include the right keywords for your career. Here are just a few general keywords and keyword phrases that you may want to include (if appropriate to your experience and education):

Resume Keywords

Use Accomplishment Statements

  • Accomplishment statements create a more powerful resume. They highlight achievements, quantify results, and show impact. Each of the job, internship, or student club/involvement descriptions on your resume should include at least one impactful accomplishment statement. For example, the accomplishment statement could be:
  • Financial: Help the organization to save money or increase profit, reduce expenses/inventory, loss/employee turnover.

Enhancements to the workplace: Increase productivity, efficiency, profitability, safety, employee morale, or client satisfaction.  

When writing accomplishment statements think about the following: What skill am I trying to illustrate? What were my results? What did I achieve? What impact did this have? How did the employer benefit? Can I quantify for additional impact? What was the purpose of my task?

The key elements of an effective accomplishment statement are actions and results:

Actions: Describe the specific actions you took to achieve an objective or solve a problem using power verbs. Focus on transferable skills and technical skills that directly relate to your intended field. Include key words from the industry.

Results: Describe the results of your efforts. Quantify whenever possible, using percentages, dollars, or volume. Accomplishment statements may begin with
the action or the result. However, leading off with the result has greater impact. Consider the examples below:

Good Better Best
  • Advise students on career-related issues.
  • Spearheaded the design of a newsletter to provide information to potential customers
  • Advise students on various career-related issues including: choosing a major, internship/job search, and interview skills.
  • Created a newsletter targeted to 20,000 recipients to attract new customers
  • Provide individual career advising to 12-16 students each week on career-related issues including: choosing a major, internship/job search, and interview skills.
  • Designed a newsletter targeted to 20,000 recipients and gained 300 new customers

P.A.R. Approach

Use the P.A.R. Approach to highlight keywords, accomplishment statements, and transferable skills, as well as to quantify your achievements:

P—Problem/Situation: What is a situation, issue, or problem that you or the organization faced? For example: Assisted in troubleshooting customer service problems in a high profile department store to address a 30% decrease in business and 50% increase in unresolved customer complaints.

A—Action: What actions did you take? Use power verbs to describe your actions. For example: Analyzed the entire customer service process and created, designed, and implemented an efficient customer tracking and information system for over 1,000 client accounts using Microsoft Excel.

R—Result/Benefit: What was the positive result/benefit of your action for the organization? Quantify, if possible, and describe any benefits. For example: Increased business by 20% in a 6-month period via targeted digital marketing campaigns on Instagram and Facebook.

If you are unable to quantify using specific statistics, consider detailing the purpose of your work and how it is used to assist the organization or other individuals. For example: Conducted 15 psychosocial intake assessments per day to evaluate mental health status, ensure patient safety, and provide accurate referral to therapeutic resources.