When a balance between academic accomplishments and extracurricular accomplishments must be made, it’s time to round out your resume.
This is not your parent’s job market.
There are few jobs to be had, and those that are available seem to have little security. A high GPA and a witty thesis will not earn you your dream job. With any luck, you’ll eventually earn that spot, but hard work and an impressive resume will go a long way toward helping you.
In order to improve your credentials, a balance between academic accomplishments and extracurricular accomplishments must be made. Grab your notebook and a pen – here are some ways to accessorize your resume with an eye toward landing that dream job.
Volunteer on campus
I wasn’t eligible for financial aid, so any work study was out of the question. Of course, an on-campus job is not only convenient but impressive to CV onlookers, so I decided to play around with volunteer positions.
In general, these positions are not listed on any job board or school website. These are self-created positions. Contact departments that interest you, and let them know that you’re willing to work and what you can bring to the table. The tasks may start off monotonous, but once you’re in, you can contribute your ideas, too.
After several e-mails to various campus departments, I landed a position in the International Programs Office (IPO) as a volunteer peer advisor, which I quickly expanded on as the IPO’s social media coordinator and writer.
After a year spending Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in the office, I had two close professional relationships, a lot of experience to carry with me and two credible sources to validate my success if ever needed. I might also add that I had a lot of fun.
Learn special skills
Another great way to accessorize your CV is with any special skills or workshops.
I contributed (again, unpaid) to our school magazine, first as a writer and later as a graphic designer. Writing for the magazine meant drafting and editing, but the design aspect was much more complicated. I sat in on a handful of document design classes before I was able to construct a layout, and even then I needed more practice.
I spent a semester studying the programs (in addition to five classes), and attended the design team’s meetings regularly. By the end of the semester I had layouts and articles for my portfolio and a familiarity with four highly regarded graphic design programs.
Professors are always interested in independent projects and student-established groups – anything to diversify academia. Even volunteering a couple of hours per week as a professor’s aid may be a rewarding undertaking.
Any non-required college project will earn you experience and stand-out on your resume. Professional relationships are an added bonus — it’s often all about who you know!
When applying for graduate school, a personal statement prompt asked the following: “What are your intellectual interests, relevant work experiences, life experiences, and other sources of inspiration?” My essay included the abovementioned volunteer work, my interest and experience in print publications and the encouragement that my professors provided me with. There was no question of GPA or thesis in the prompt.
Go figure. And go volunteer.
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