As if studying for hours and completing endless piles of homework wasn't enough, now you have to write a resume. What is a resume anyway? And how do you make one if you haven’t held a “real” job yet? And what are companies looking for anyway?
We'll explain all that and more, now let’s dive in.
What's a Resume?
A resume is a single sheet of paper that details your education, experience, and skills. Companies review applicants' resumes in order to choose who they want to invite for an interview. Therefore, it's important to have a stellar resume in order to make it past the first round.
Resume's generally have the following parts:
A summary describing who you are and what you want
However, not all resumes need to follow this exact format. For example, if you're a writer or researcher, you might have a section for publications. If you're a performer, you may include your repertoire.
How to Write a Summary for a College Student
Mention your previous experience. Have you worked as a peer tutor? Did you hold a part-time job while studying? Did you participate in any volunteering activities, or sports? Did you hold any leadership positions?
Describe your greatest strength. Are you organized? Do you have a passion for research, or data, or writing?
Explain what you’re eager to accomplish in the next stage of your career. What are you looking for --- a job, an internship, research experience? Be specific and mention the industry and the position you want.
How to List Your Work Experience as a College Student
Use reverse chronological format. List your most recent jobs first, as this shows managers how you’ve gained experience in the industry.
Use action verbs. Verbs are critical to demonstrating what you can do for the company. Review the following list for some powerful examples.
Tip: ALWAYS start each bullet point with a verb, it packs a strong punch and quickly demonstrates your abilities.
Not sure what sections to include on your resume? Consider:
“Leadership & Volunteer Experience”
It’s important to list any leadership experience, as this is one of the first sections that employers seek. You don’t have to hold an “official” position like a treasurer, team captain or student governor in order to have leadership experience. If you led a group project, motivated your club sports team, or helped your peers with a difficult subject you can list it as an example of leadership. Just pick a strong verb (i.e., led, managed, organized) to begin the sentence.
Here are some examples:
Served as a Resident Advisor to 30 freshmen
Organized and implemented 12 communal bonding activities for 30 freshmen residents, including plant potting and tie-dye t-shirts
Managed a budget of $1,000 for residents' activities
Mitigated roommate conflicts and referred to the supervisor when appropriate
Designed 12 posters for resident activities using Adobe Illustrator
Tutored 30 freshmen students in elementary Chemistry
Assisted Chemistry professor in grading homework sheets, labs, and exams
Revised the Elementary Chemistry’s lesson plans to include more engaging group work, including a contest to create Harry Potter potions
Received 9/10 on anonymous tutor reviews from students at the end of the semester
Hosted weekly office hours to answer students’ questions about the material
Research & Projects
Devised a thesis on the correlation between imaginary play and childhood development
Conducted research on 250+ elementary school children and their relationship with imaginary play
Wrote a final paper spanning 40 pages on the prevalence of Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in football athletes
Interviewed 10 professionals in the psychology and psychopathology field
Oversaw the cleanliness and feeding of 50 mice used in research studies
Assisted in research studying the correlation between sleep deprivation and caffeine in 300 college students
Collaborated with 5 other students to submit a proposal for a psychology course that detailed the faults in elementary school education and offered feasible solutions
Leadership & Volunteer Experience
Served as Treasurer for the club soccer team, which included managing a budget of $1,000, choosing the vendor from which to purchase jerseys and paying travel expenses
Fundraised $3,000 for the Blue Jay choir group by selling donuts to students 5 days a week for 3 weeks
Created 12 posters for the club soccer team’s games using Adobe Illustrator
Volunteered as a peer listener twice a week for students struggling with homesickness
Planted a garden with community members in the surrounding campus area
Dean’s List Fall 2017 - Spring 2019
1 of 15 students selected for a prestigious $20,000 scholarship
Nominated “Top Resident Advisor” by the freshmen class of 2020
Awarded by the Director of Harvard’s Psychology Department for outstanding research
Awarded “Community Leader” for completing 50 hours of volunteer work in the community within one semester
Tip: if you work a part-time job or play a sport, mention it! It shows time management, responsibility, and dedication.
How to List Your Skills as a College Student
Your skills will vary widely depending on your classes, your hobbies, and any experience you may have from a previous job or internship. The following are just some general ideas:
Social Media Skills
Microsoft Suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
Google Suite (Docs, Sheets, Slides)
Tip: If you speak, read, or write a foreign language, list it on your resume. Be sure to include if you are a “beginner,” “proficient,” “intermediate,” “advanced” or an “expert.” And don’t exaggerate your ability -- you could end up in a sticky situation!
How to List Your Education as a College Student
List the name of your university on your resume because it can serve as a networking tool. If the recruiter or hiring assistant went to the same school, it can help you stick out.
As for your GPA, whether or not you should include it depends on the industry in which you’re seeking work. However, the rule of thumb is that you should only include your GPA if it is above a 3.5. If you're still not sure, check out our GPA advice for more information.
Tip: No matter what extracurricular you participated in, course you took, or sport you played, do not be embarrassed! There is something that you learned from each one of these things. The trick is to figure out what that was, and how to list it on your resume. If you’re stuck, ask yourself, “What skill did I walk away with from this activity?” or “What did I accomplish after participating in this experience?”
College Student Career Overview
The job outlook for College Students depends on the industry in which they are specializing. For example, aerospace engineers make $116,500 while nurses can expect an income of $73,300.
Your job outlook will also depend on your GPA, your networking contacts, and your extracurriculars. Students who have higher GPA or more internships are more likely to get into an industry of their choice.
According to TheClassroom, the majority of working college students earn between $7,500 and $42,000 per year. This depends on the kind of work you do, how often you work, and the state in which you live.
College Students do best with part-time jobs, since the structure allows them to continue their studies and pursue other sports or interests.
Katerina is a junior studying English and Marketing at Johns Hopkins University. She has experience in social media, science writing, and fiction. When she isn't writing, she's hitting the gym, playing with her cats, or eating chocolate.