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In the past, I have worked for a small company where I knew the owners. Although I worked for free and was never registered as an "employee," I only did it for the experience. On my resume, I initially wrote the work as "volunteer." But, then, I was advised by a career counselor that I should instead say that I was an "intern."

My question is: Would this be appropriate? When I go in for an interview, I plan on disclosing this information to the hiring manager.

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The important thing is not to lie: which in this case, you aren't doing.

You undertook an unpaid internship. Whether it was called that at the time, what you were doing fits the definition:

Intern noun: a student or trainee who works, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification.

Anybody reading "Intern" would understand it to mean "Working for a company on a temporary basis (paid or unpaid) to gain some experience"

Volunteer generally suggests charitable work or similar, which would actually be less accurate in this situation, and more likely to bring up tricky questions.

  • To ask a similar question so if my title was specifically a Volunteer, would calling myself an Intern on a resume be wrong? – Ro Siv Jun 12 '16 at 21:59
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    If in doubt, ask the company themselves - but if you understood your role to be that of an intern, I can't see it being a problem. Companies aren't generally concerned about the specific job title as long as you're not claiming additional skills or responsibilities. As long as you were doing things you'd expect an intern to do, you aren't misleading anyone – Jon Story Jun 12 '16 at 22:22

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