3 Internship Application Tips for Women

Internships are a great way for everyone—including us ladies—to get practical experience and industry knowledge while we're still in school. Internships are the real deal; they are great learning experiences and great skill builders. But while the idea of having an internship might sound nice in practice, the reality of applying can be less so. Between the resume building and job applications and interviews, applying for internships might seem like just one more thing to add to your already formidable to-do list. But never fear! Just follow the tips below, and you’ll be on your way to scoring an internship in no time.

1) Bulk up your resume language

After beginning your internship search online or through your school, it’s time to look at your resume. First, take time to make sure the basics are there: strong formatting, clear readability, and no errors. After ironing out any big-picture issues, review the each sentence of your resume to check out your language usage. Women, on average, are less likely to use strong resume language than men.

While men tend to favor strong verbs like "led,” or “founded,” women tend to favor softer verbs like “helped” or “aided.” Those strong verbs emphasize individual action and leadership, while the softer ones imply that you weren’t the one who was really driving the action. In resumes, every word has to pack a punch, so stand up for yourself! Softer verbs may reduce your resume’s effectiveness, so take ownership of your actions and use those strong verbs.

To fix soft verbs, go through each verb on your resume and evaluate it. Are you using evocative and concrete verbs? Does your verb choice tell employers what you did and help you demonstrate your best qualities? If some of your verbs need revamping, look at this list of 185 Strong Action Verbs for ideas of what to replace them with.

Once your resume content is polished, your next step is to double- and triple-check your resume for errors. Use spell check in addition to an extra pair of eyes to find every tiny error that could make your resume less credible.

2) Take the long shot and apply

After you’ve done all the hard work to look for internships and perfect your resume, the next part is to apply. This step might seem self-explanatory, but there’s a catch. In general, women are less likely to apply for jobs if they don’t have every qualification for the position, while equally under-qualified men are more likely to apply for those same jobs.

What is affecting this statistic?

For women, it’s two things: fear of failure and a desire to play by the rules. This can be a hinderance in the internship or job search process. Employers, in reality, often use job postings as a “wish list.”

While it’s not feasible to apply for every internship you see, if you are excited about a position that you feel you don’t have all the qualifications for, take that long shot and apply. As Forbes suggests, you can use your cover letter and interview to explain why your experience is relevant for the job. To sum up: if you’re interested in a position but not sure if you should apply, just go for it! The odds may be better than you think. You’ll be out some time for the cover letter, but it’ll all be worth it when you end up nailing your dream position.

3) Nail that interview

With your strong resume and many applications, hopefully a company will approach you for an interview. Yay! That’s exciting! But at the same time, the interview can spark a whole host of dread. Don’t worry—you’re not alone if you dislike interviews. Practice makes perfect, and you might even try recording yourself to be aware of your personal tics.

And it’s not only personal tics to keep an eye on. Just like women tend to use softer language on their resumes, they also have specific tendencies in interviews that can be detrimental to their chances of getting hired. Here are two specific pointers to address those:

  • Trust in your experience. Avoid qualifiers like “but” or “to be honest” that undercut your valuable experience.

  • Be aware of how much you are talking. Some women tend to clam up and not self-promote, while others talk and talk until they run out of things to say. Both are bad! Always strive for a happy medium. Watch the interviewer for nonverbal cues about when might be a good time to wrap up your statement.

Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for your interview. Take the time to practice common interview questions so that you can feel confident for your interview. You’ve got this!


The search for an internship can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. By bulking up your resume language, applying for some long shot positions, and nailing that interview, you can be efficient and put your best foot forward to find an internship. Your internship search can help open doors for you as you work towards your career goals. Your future is full of potential, so be confident and go get that internship!

Other articles in the series:

I. Women in the Workplace: Gendered Challenges

II. 3 Ways to Fight Gender Bias

III. 4 Ways to Balance Careers and Kids

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