fbpx Skip to Content

Listing an Unpaid Internship on Your Resume — Complete Guide

Listing an Unpaid Internship on Your Resume — Complete Guide

Sharing is caring!

An internship can be a wonderful way to get hands-on experience in a job field, especially for those who have no related experience.

A company may not hire someone new to the field, so having internship experience (even unpaid) is a great way to get a foot in the door. 

But what about if the internship is actually unpaid? Should you still list it?

Let’s find out!


Should you list an unpaid internship on your resume?

Internships should be put in the experience section on a resume. Whether the internship is paid or unpaid does not matter, and you should not specify this point when including it. Format the internship the same way as other job experience, and keep this experience in reverse-chronological order.  


Why shouldn’t you list internship experience as unpaid?

In the experience section, one should never include the salary next to the job in question.

This is because upon seeing a solid number, a company may offer less than they had originally planned to. 

For example, if you write that you had been making 60k at your most recent job, a company which was originally going to pay 100k now has reason to believe you may accept 80k. 

You should only bring up previous salaries if a new company tries to offer you less than you’ve earned at previous jobs.  

Listing experience as “unpaid” sets the salary bar at zero. A company sees that you were willing to work for no money, so they may offer you far less than they would another employee.

There is no benefit to including the word “unpaid”, so don’t put it on your resume. 


Should you even include an unpaid internship on a resume?

The key to this question lies in the relevance of the internship. If you are applying to be a university professor, and you have completed an academic internship, then it should be listed. 

Do not list internships which have nothing to do with the job you are applying for, especially if they were unpaid (because unpaid internships are likely short-term jobs anyways, which are less valuable). 

If the internship was very short-term, be aware that an employer may not be impressed by it. If you feel like it’s still worthy experience, then check out tips for the best way to format a one-month job on a resume.

If you have a lot of relevant paid working experience, then it would be best to not include the internship.

You needn’t list every single experience on a resume, so only include the ones which are the most impressive. 


How to list an unpaid internship in the experience section

Because an internship is real-world experience, it should be formatted in exactly the same way as other jobs or externships. Include the company name, list the dates worked, and craft the title to fit the role you fulfilled. 

Writing the word “intern” for the job title works best, just make sure to specify what type of internship it was. Working as an IT intern for a hospital is very different than being a medical intern! 

An unpaid internship can be formatted like the following:


ABC General Hospital – Medical Intern (January 2020) – (June 2020)

  • Conducted physical assessments of patients and logged results
  • Ordered and analyzed the results of diagnostic tests
  • Updated and stored patient charts in accordance with HIPAA policies

You do not need to list every responsibility you had as an intern. Decide which responsibilities are most relevant to the job you are seeking, and the ones which are most impressive to a potential employer. 


Should you make a separate internships section on a resume?

Creating a section only for internships is not recommended. This is because people do not typically work more than one internship!

While being an intern is a real hands-on job, it is often a job for those new to the industry, or just starting out in the working world. 

A section dedicated only to internships may make an employer wonder why you hadn’t been hired on as a fully-fledged employee.

Interns also usually take on tasks that are easier or less desirable in a company, so the experience is valued a bit lower than a regular job is. 


Could you include an unpaid internship in the volunteering section?

There is a decent amount of crossover between a volunteer job and an unpaid internship, but in the end, it is not proper to include internships in the volunteering section.

Internships exist to teach the ways of a company, and for people to gain experience in a certain field before entering as full-time paid employees.

It helps to bridge the gap between education and real-world experience, as many positions do not accept applicants with no relevant experience. 

Volunteering on the other hand, is typically done through goodwill or generosity.

Because unpaid internships are more akin to job training or job experience, it feels out of place to see them in a volunteering section.