Further Questions: Should internships go under employment experience or in a separate section?

This week I have a question that I lifted off Twitter:

On resumes, should internships go under employment experience or in a separate section? 
Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library SystemShortgrass Library System in conjunction with Medicine Hat Public Library and Medicine Hat College Library Services offers a Shared Internship for a new MLIS graduate that we are very excited about. During the one year duration of the internship, the Intern Librarian spends equal amounts of time at each organization and I most definitely think that the experience gained during this year should go under employment experience. Our Intern Librarian’s responsibilities are the same that we would assign to a “regular” full time new librarian (scaled back to take into consideration the part time hours at each organization, of course). This allows the Intern Librarian to gain real employment experience and learn skills that will come in handy in future jobs.
Our internship program is in its second year and it has been a great success so far, allowing a new grad to gain experience in three different library sectors (regional library system, mid size public library and college library). It has been great for our staff to have new grads join the team who bring with them new perspectives and ideas that help us provide better library services. In our case, the interns also get the benefit of coming out of the experience with references from three supervisors, instead of the usual one.
– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System
Jacob BergEmployment.
Side note to fellow hiring managers: pay your interns. Not doing so is classist, because only the well-to-do can afford to work for free. And because race, ethnicity, gender identity, mental illness, physical ability, and sexual identity, among others, often correlates with class, internships are discriminatory along those lines as well. Also, not paying people to work devalues our professions by sending signals to other employers that our labor, time, and effort is not worth compensation.
-Jacob Berg, Director of Library Services,  Trinity Washington University
Jason Grubb
I’m not a fan of different sections. I don’t want to work too hard to figure out what a person has been doing for the past 5 years. Including the internship in the same section as employment experience helps an employer see where it fits in. If you would prefer not to use the “employment experience” heading go with something like “work experience” or “professional experience” or even just “experience”.
– Jason Grubb, Director, Sweetwater County Library System
angelynn king
Employment experience is fine, as long as it’s clearly stated whether it was paid or unpaid.
-Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus
Either or both (but pick one for the more detailed version, depending on what skills you acquired during the internship – and also list those skills in your Skills List!). BUT, if you’re applying for a civil service librarian position that requires not just a cover-letter and resume, but a standardized application form, make sure to include any info about your internship in both employment and education sections of the application form AND in any relevant “supplemental” questions AND mention it in your interview (also assuming if it is relevant).
Remember, civil service “fill-in-the-blank form” applications are diced and sliced by HR departments and multiple people read and review different parts of your application, often without any access to other parts, e.g. your brilliant and beautiful attached resume may not be seen by any single reviewer – or anyone at all. So, instead of being a “job app cataloger” and trying to figure out where to classify that internship, experience, skill, or training, put it everywhere – but not everywhere at great length. There is nothing wrong with being concise and saying in 2 or more relevant places “during a 6-month internship I used x software and designed x website – please see under “Education” for more detailed information and a link to the website I created”
– Laura J. Orr, Law Librarian, Washington County Law Library 

Sarah MorrisonEven if the internship was unpaid, I would expect to find it under work experience.  That’s the point of the internship, right—to get work experience?  If someone had multiple relevant internships, it would appropriate to group those experiences together in a separate section.

I consider paid and unpaid internships the same as any other relevant work experience when looking at a candidates work history.

– Sarah Morrison, Adult Services Librarian, Neill Public Library, Pullman, Washington

Marge Loch WoutersI am more than happy to see internships go under employment.

It is usually professional level work and whether paid or unpaid probably contributes to the candidate’s toolbox of professional skills.

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

Celia RabinowitzThis is becoming an increasingly complicated experience to document effectively and efficiently for employers.  If an internship/placement happened within the context of a graduate program I think it might actually be in a new kind of section on the resume for Internship/Volunteer Experience.  Increasingly librarians pre- and post-MLS are volunteering and I think a lot of that training should be documented.  A paid internship could go under employment.

Many internships are short (3-5 months) and unpaid and I think they clutter up the employment section of a resume.  I had not thought of a separate section until the question was posed here but many librarians are not doing more than one and also volunteer work. 

– Celia Rabinowitz, Director of the Library, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Laurie Phillips


It doesn’t matter as long as it’s there.


– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans


Sherle Abramson-Bluhm
As far as I am concerned it does not matter, as long as it is clearly described.
If it is library related experience, the lack of payment is not relevant for my consideration.
I would not judge where it appears on a resume as significant either way.
– Sherle Abramson-Bluhm, Head, Print Acquisitions, University of Michigan

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  It’s the tattooed broken promise I gotta hide beneath my comment.


Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Other Organization or Library Type, Public

4 responses to “Further Questions: Should internships go under employment experience or in a separate section?

  1. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

  2. Pingback: Further Questions: If you hire interns, do you pay them? | Hiring Librarians

  3. Pingback: Q: Is it OK to treat unpaid experience as professional experience on my résumé? | Library Career People

  4. Pingback: Return to Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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