How to Write a Personal Statement for an Internship
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When employers ask you for a personal statement as part of your internship application packet, it signals that they want to know more about your background than the facts and figures on your resume reveal. While an internship personal statement is your chance to share more of your personal side, as with all application materials, it's also an opportunity to sell yourself and to prove you're the person the employer wants as an intern. Typically, this is a separate document that you attach to your internship application, along with your resume and other requested materials.
Personal Statement Formatting
The format for a personal statement includes an introductory paragraph, a few paragraphs that describe your experiences and how they relate to the career field or the internship for which you're applying, and a paragraph that wraps it all up and ties the beginning to the end. Often, internship coordinators will have other guidelines, such as limiting you to fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial, using only 10- or 12-point size font, and limiting the statement to 500 or 800 words, for example. If you don't get any guidelines, use a common font of 10- or 12-point size, and limit the statement to one or two pages. At the top, type "Personal Statement for," followed by your name.
Find a Thread
Think of a time in your life that shaped your decision to pursue this field. Maybe you saw a famous politician speak and it inspired you to pursue politics, or your grandfather taught you basic carpentry and it inspired you to pursue a career in construction. These are the types of stories you'll want to use as the "thread" of your statement. Start off your statement with a paragraph that tells this story. Later, you'll also weave in more details that relate to the story. A good story will encourage the reader to continue reading, and also help her remember you.
Relate Your Experience
The middle paragraphs should include information about your experience and how it can benefit the organization. Think about the skills or characteristics that make a person successful in that particular field. Read job descriptions and the internship posting to get an idea of what the employer wants, but also check out the resumes and self descriptions of people in the field on sites such as LinkedIn. Based on all of that research, use the middle paragraphs to talk about skills or knowledge you have, such as how being the captain of the debate team helped you hone your public speaking skills, or how working on a construction crew during the summers has taught you to be tough and hard-working. You're still telling a story about your life here, but you're also making a case about being the best internship candidate.
Sum It All Up
As with any good story, the beginning should be tied to the end. Once again, share a tidbit about the story you introduced in the beginning of the statement. For example, you might share a quote from that famous politician, or talk about your grandfather's best carpentry work. At this point, it's also good to talk about your overall goals in life and how you see this particular internship fitting into your plan.
Once you've written that first draft, read it over carefully and remove spelling and grammar mistakes. You may be a student or a recent graduate, but employers will still expect professionalism in your personal statement.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.