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I completed a short internship at a large company before starting my studies in a similar field. This is often mandatory for engineering classes in Germany and called a "Vorpraktikum", literally translated a "pre-study internship".

I wonder whether it is appropriate to call the position "Pre-study Intern" in my CV, this would be in line with later internships (e.g. "Research Intern"), but sounds a bit odd to me.

How does this sound to a native speaker, do you have better suggestions?

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  • I think "pre-study internship" or "pre-university internship" sounds fine. To an older generation, it might be called "work experience" but "intern/internship" seem much more commonly used. In the UK a year out before university is often called a "gap year" but this doesn't seem to be a common term in the US: so it might help to say what country you are aiming at.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 17, 2021 at 14:55

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Work experience / work placement

In the British-English speaking world, what you did is known as “work experience” or alternatively, “work placement”.

  • work experience (noun, Brit.): a period of time in which a student temporarily works for an employer to get experience.
  • work placement (noun, Brit.): a limited period of time, usually forming part of a course of study, during which someone works for a company or organization in order to get work experience, which may be paid or not paid.

(“work experience” is an uncountable nouns; you do not say “I did a work experience”, but “work placement” can be used as a countable noun to describe the posting itself)

Unlike the British-English use of “intern”, “work experience” does not automatically imply that you were in college or studying for that career: both secondary-school and undergraduate students can both do work experience. Work experience tends to be shorter duration, and can be paid or unpaid. “Work placement”, by contrast, is longer in duration, usually part of a third-level qualification, and more likely to be as part of a third-level education, and more likely to be paid work.

I natively speak a British English dialect, not American, but my understanding is that in American usage, “intern” does cover pre-college work as well. Perhaps someone better-placed to know could comment?

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  • Yes I'd be interested in the American English interpretation/word. The position was indeed paid due to German minimum wage laws.
    – anon
    Sep 17, 2021 at 14:42
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    @Lawrence - good point. I have edited my answer.
    – KrisW
    Sep 17, 2021 at 14:45

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