Interns, Resumes, and My Sanity

Pointwise is looking to hire two interns for the summer: one for our product development team and one for our technical support team. The job postings were added to our website earlier this month and have also been posted at university career centers around the country.

I’d like to thank everyone who’s applied so far. We were just discussing at lunch that the pace of incoming resumes is likely to set a new record for our internships. And we’ve seen quite a few promising candidates who we’re looking forward to talking to in the upcoming weeks.

But a few of the resumes we’ve received… Dang.

What are your career counselors telling you? Or are you not listening?

Based on what I’ve seen so far, here are a few tips that will improve your odds of getting a favorable review. (And will prevent me from pulling out what’s left of my hair.)

Proofread your resume and cover letter. Have a friend proofread it for you. Correct all those grammar and spelling errors. The current record for most errors in a resume is 35. I do not offer that to you as a challenge. (Hint: Look for the squiggly red line in Microsoft Word.)

Include your major. And your name. Really. It happens. (Bonus: Don’t attach a file called resume.pdf. We get quite a few of those. Try sending us Firstname-Lastname-resume.pdf. We like that because it makes things just a little easier for us. And certainly don’t send us good-resume or resume-version138. It really raises more questions than it answers.)

Include your GPA. Not including it only creates doubt and we’ll ask about it anyway. (Hint: if you’re concerned it’s too low, make sure your resume or cover letter highlights other aspects of your career or maybe provides an explanation.)

Write a cover letter. Let’s face it, as students your resumes are a little on the thin side. That’s OK, we understand you’re just at the start of your career. But to differentiate yourself, write a cover letter describing why we’d want to hire you. (Hint: Write a real cover letter, not just something imitating a text message. Use a letter template in Word with return address, date, etc. And no sycophants, please. I know for a fact that there are few if any people under the age of 25 who have had a lifelong passion for mesh generation.)

Objective must match our job. You and I both know what your objective is: get an internship to earn money and gain experience. It’s hardly worth saying. But if you choose to include an objective on your resume, make damn sure it matches the position we’re hiring for. (Hint: We’re a software company involved with fluid dynamics. If your objective says you want to get an internship in robotics, that’s when I stop reading.)

References are available upon request. Of course they are. Stop wasting ink printing that statement. (Reference: Ink is a liquid dye used to make readable patterns on paper. See also dead tree. Modern usage: PDF.)

Proofread. Yes, I repeated it. Yes, it’s that important.

So what are the kinds of things do I like to see on a resume and in a cover letter?

  1. Correct and effective use of the English language.
  2. Relevant courses you’ve taken, excelled in, and enjoyed.
  3. A URL. Got a website showcasing your projects? Include it.
  4. The slightest hint that you have an interest in fluids and/or programming.

Be assured that I take no joy in rejecting candidates. Think of it this way. We really want to find a great candidate as soon as possible. Every time I open someone’s cover letter and resume I’m hopeful that this one is “the one.” I do spend time thinking about the student, how they might fit in here, and what will happen to them if I say no. As a parent of a current college student and a recent graduate I can easily relate to your side of the process.

Just make it easier and save the few brain cells I have left. OK?

[UPDATE: 24 Jan 2014] Although it takes 84 slides to reveal 11 reasons, students and new graduates should flip through Eleven Reasons Why I Will Never Hire You by Mark O’Toole. (#6 You don’t know what you want to do.)

We’d love to see your resume if you’re interested in a summer in Fort Worth doing mesh generation for CFD. Click the orange button to learn more.


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7 Responses to Interns, Resumes, and My Sanity

  1. Seung Yo says:

    this is awesome….

  2. jdrch says:

    I’m thinking I might apply at this rate 😉

  3. Prashanth G says:

    Hi John! I realize this is definitely not the right forum to ask this, but I applied to the product development intern on Feb 14th and this post makes it seem like you guys have already narrowed down your candidates. Was I too late? Last time, the position was filled only in March! I am really looking forward to hear from Pointwise. I’ve seen the hands-on work the interns do(on your facebook page) and I think its one of the best opportunities out there.

  4. John Chawner says:

    Hi Prashanth:

    We’ve been reviewing resumes since the internships opened in early January but no final decisions have been made. Send an email to and inquire about your status.

    Best Regards

  5. Pingback: Summer 2016 Internships Now Open | Another Fine Mesh

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