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  • Should a Student Add a Cancelled Internship to Their Resume?

    April 09, 2020 | By NACE Staff

    A student works on her resume during the coronavirus pandemic.

    TAGS: internships, experiential education, students, coronavirus

    It’s true: What a student learns from an internship is most important. However, how important is it for a potential employer to know that a student was offered an internship even though the position was rescinded due to COVID-19?

    As some students find their summer plans sidelined because of COVID-19, career services professionals are asking: Should we advise students to add a statement their resumes that says something like this:

    XYZ Company - Internship offer accepted. Rescinded due to COVID-19 - Summer 2020

    Is it helpful to know that a student obtained an internship, even if they couldn't complete it? Would a statement like this be a positive or a negative factor for an employer in deciding whether to interview a student for a full-time position?

    NACE college and employer members, who almost unanimously agreed that the rescinded internship should be included on a student’s resume, offered reasons for their support:

    • It shows that the student had the initiative to seek out an internship.
    • Landing the internship is part of the learning experience. How to deal with a job loss and uncertainty of the future is also a learning experience.
    • The information helps explain the gap in internship experience.
    • The title of the internship would tell what kind of work a student is interested in.
    • Internships are competitive and almost like either winning an award or accomplishing an honor.
    • It is a critical event in the student’s "story" that they are trying to tell on their resume. By accepting this internship, they took themselves out of the running of interning with any other company.
    • If the internship or co-op would be at a very prestigious employer within the student's discipline, listing the internship offer would be beneficial.
    • Offers of research experiences for undergraduates (REUs) should also go on the resume, especially if the student is planning on graduate or medical school. Being selected for something highly competitive like an REU speaks to the student's abilities.

    Several offered other ideas:

    • Add it to LinkedIn too.
    • Get feedback from the internship site on the accomplishments and experience that brought about this offer, including soft skills observed during the interview.
    • Use 'canceled' instead of 'rescind' just so the loss doesn't seem like it was caused by the student.
    • Students should take a more traditional approach and leave the resume to what they've done and learned.
    • Work the offer into a future cover letter or, in response to a future interview question.
    • A student can do activities related to their area of interests (e.g., take a MOOC, build language skills through Duolingo, conduct virtual research and assessment) and include these actions on their resume.

    A few offered caveats:

    • While it shows that circumstances out of the student’s control discontinued the internship, make sure it doesn't sound like the rescinding organization did something wrong.
    • Some disciplines, such as counseling, need a specified number of direct contact hours with clients to count toward their degree program and allow them to sit for a provisional licensure exam, so listing employers that they didn't intern with is moot.
    • Once a student accepts a new internship or is hired full time, they should remove or replace it.
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