Created by: Mikki Hornstein, 2012-2013 Career Advising Fellow
You may not have known this, but Katie and I share an office here in the SPDC at Elon. It’s actually a pretty nice set up – nice desks, filing cabinet, chairs. The best part about it, though, is that we’re always around to bounce ideas off of, to ask each other for advice on challenging appointments, or to just share hilarious interactions with students (and trust me, sometimes they make you stop and think, “Is this for real?”).
Recently, after a drop-in appointment, I walked back to the office, sat down, and shared with Katie, the experience of meeting with a specific student earlier that day:
The student was looking into PR summer internships and brought both a resume and a cover letter for review. I started first with the resume which was in need of a number of edits, but was looking pretty good overall. Well, apparently I had missed an important aspect toward the bottom of her resume in the campus activities section because as I read the cover letter, I learned that the student was a PR Manager for a student organization at Elon. I stopped reading the cover letter immediately, and looked over at the resume and sure enough; there is was at the bottom of the document, blending in like a stealthy, undercover ninja. I was shocked that I had missed it initially, but relieved that reading the cover letter had brought it to my attention. “Wait,” I said, “Are you really the Public Relations Manager for this student group? Why isn’t this in your experience section?!” Apparently this student thought that experience sections should only include internships or paid positions. I prompted more info about the PR Manger position and found out that this student designed advertising, planned marketing campaigns, and managed a group of a few other students, as well as maintained a budget – all super-awesome and relevant experience. It turned out to be probably the most important experience this student could have included on a resume! I explained how this was absolutely the most important thing to include and that it needed to be explained by bullet points because, if I had looked right over it, a hiring manager would too.
Katie then responded with a story about a similar instance from earlier that day. A student she had met with hadn’t included video game production and programming/coding experience on a resume in fear of looking… wait for it…“geeky.” WHAT?!?! NO, NO, NO! It brings to mind an image of the V8-brand commercials where people get bonked on the head for not eating vegetables: “Could’ve had a V8!” BONK! Could’ve had an awesome internship by putting the most important things on your resume! BONK!
I have realized that, often, we will encounter these types of resume situations so it’s necessary to probe for more information with students. What organizations are you involved with on campus? Tell me more about this internship. Do you have any leadership positions? What do you do as Vice President of your organization that is different from other students? In many instances, there’s something impressive that the student downplays, has forgotten, thinks is irrelevant, or doesn’t explain well enough. After you find it together, the student can update his/her resume, and later, you can high-five about how awesome it is (This totally happened the other day, by the way. It was pretty great.).