College Students: Create a Killer Resume Over Winter Break

Congratulations on finishing the Fall 2014 semester! Everyone here at The Resume Place remembers the feelings of exhaustion and triumph that accompany the end of a semester in college. We hope you can take some time to sleep, consume real food, and decompress with friends and family; you deserve it.

When you come out of the post-semester fog, you might wonder how to spend your days that are now suddenly, if temporarily, free of the classes, meetings, and looming deadlines that once filled your schedule. You might also start to think about what you’d like to accomplish next semester and over the summer. With the New Year upon us, goal setting is certainly in the air. When it comes to your professional goals, The Resume Place has your back.

Maybe you want to apply for a study abroad program, land a summer internship, or get into grad school. As you probably know, you’ll need a killer resume, one that presents you in the most competitive light possible so that you stand out to hiring officials and selection committees.

What better time to work on your resume than over winter break? You have a more flexible schedule, your classes from the previous semester are still fresh in your mind, and you’re preparing yourself for the semester ahead. Dedicate some of your winter break time to crafting a killer resume.

If you’re not sure what to include in your resume because you’ve never had a “real job,” don’t worry. As a student, your academic experience can count as professional work experience. Your presentations, papers, and projects can demonstrate your knowledge, strengths, and abilities (or KSA’s, as they say in the federal government).

Here are a few action steps you can take over break to begin writing a resume that presents your academic experience as professional work experience.

  1. Reflect on the semester that just ended. Freewrite for 20 minutes about the major papers and projects you worked on in each of your classes. Which ones stand out to you? Which ones required the most energy? Which ones were the most challenging? Which ones are the most relevant to your professional goals? Which ones did you enjoy doing and why?
  2. Read and glean from your freewrite. On a separate sheet of paper, create list of the most relevant, challenging, and significant papers/projects/presentations that came up in your freewrite.
  3. Zoom in. For each project in your list, answer the following questions:
    • What was the title of your project/paper/presentation?
    • What was the mission, objective, or purpose of the project?
    • What was your role in the project? Were you a researcher? Writer? Presenter? Designer?
    • With whom did you communicate to work on this project? Students? Organizations? Campus resources? People in the community?
    • What major challenges or problems arose during this project?
    • What actions did you take to overcome or work around these challenges?
    • What were the results of this project? Did you create a report? Was your presentation received well and/or recognized in some way? Did you provide recommendations that are now being considered?
  4. Edit your writing about each of your projects to paragraphs of about 5-7 sentences.
  5. Insert your paragraphs in your Education section of your resume. You might consider using a subheading called “Major Papers and Projects.”

This exercise forces you to find specific examples of the KSAs that you can bring to a job, even if you think that you didn’t make any huge accomplishments last semester. You accomplished more than you think you did. But you need to take the time to reflect on your work. Set aside 1-2 hours over break to do some serious reflection and resume writing. You’ll feel more confident and organized going into the Spring 2015 semester.

Want to learn more about how to craft a strong student resume, especially for opportunities in the federal government? Check out Kathryn Troutman’s book: Student’s Federal Career Guide.

Posted in Federal Resume Writing

3rd Edition Info
  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-9846671-6-1
  • Size: 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Retail Price:: $14.95
  • Kindle:: $10.49

Federal Jobs by College Major

See the USAJOBS Federal Employment Information Fact Sheet containing a table that groups Federal jobs that are often filled by college graduates with appropriate academic majors.