The Evolution of an Undergraduate Student Resume

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Let’s profile the progression of an undergraduate student resume to help you benchmark your current resume.

I thought I would take some time to reflect on my career path this fall Sunday, and more importantly, countless mistakes I had made with my resume.

This morning I found a file of old resumes as I was cleaning my hard drive. In fact, I was able to locate one from each year of college.

So, we'll work on them to profile the progression of an undergraduate student resume to help you benchmark your current resume. Use this analysis of past resumes to identify best practices, learn when to seek help, and what mistakes to avoid.

Freshmen year

A lack of professional experience coupled with insufficient knowledge of resume mechanics will make it difficult to position yourself as a competitive candidate, especially for those who are seeking their first internship.

Freshmen don’t have time to worry about effective resume preparation, let alone educate themselves on tedious resume details. I was not an exception. Rather then grouping sections by experience, I chose to organize sections by competencies and use examples from various self-directed projects and organizations to support the claim. This approach resulted in some weird resume/cover letter hybrid.

Resume Elements include:

  • Objective
  • Skills summary
  • Skills and Experience
  • Computer Skills
  • Education and Training

Luckily, as an undergraduate, you’ll have many university-provided resources at your disposal. I suggest reaching out to your university’s career advising center…but heed my warning, those guys are busy; really, really busy. If I remember correctly, they suggested I highlight anytime I learned or used a technical skill.

Sophomore Year

While freshman year should be spent integrating yourself into student organizations, exploring academic opportunities and developing technical skills (I suggest you take advantage of free university-provided software training classes. These courses will help develop a foundational technical understanding and can be included on your resume). Sophomore year is a time where the ambitious gain an advantage by applying to competitive internships or research positions. A proper resume is paramount to landing such a position…

Fall semester of my sophomore year I started an e-commerce business and was faced with a dilemma…how does this new experience fit into my existing resume? The answer: It didn’t. The resume of freshmen year had to go.

This iteration of my resume focused on proper formatting mechanics (poorly) more so than the content.

Resume Elements include:

  • Objective shortened
  • Education highlighted
  • Defined experience sections which were organized by themes of freshmen achievements
  • Introduced bullet points
  • Skills section in list form to increased ATS readability
  • Font & typeface selection

If you’ve developed great experience but have little knowledge of formatting, take a look at the Rezi Resume Template. Let our knowledge of resume mechanics take care of the dirty work while your experience does the talking.

Junior Year

Career fairs, mock interviews, networking…junior year should be your busiest yet. Hopefully by now, you are well emerged in student organizations and maybe your persistent dedication has landed you a leadership position (that’s the goal anyway).

Your chosen career path should be more clearly defined. Now that you’re past the halfway point, you should really think about want you want to do post-graduation. The summer following your junior year will be the launching pad of your career. Aim to use this period to excel in a position related to your vocational goals.

Keep in mind these positions are even more competitive. Your resume must be on point, master the tedious mechanics if you want to see results. Luckily, my roommate was a resume reviewer for the university business school. Here is the resume we created together.

Resume Elements include:

  • Objective deleted
  • Education highlighted
  • Defined experience sections organized by accomplishments
  • Introduced well thought out and actionable bullet points
  • Skills section in list form to increased ATS readability
  • Font & typeface selection

In this iteration I focused on quantifying accomplishments and making sure my experience descriptors contained critical elements. I also made a major shift in the format. This is the resume was used to land my first “competitive” internship.

If you are behind in your resume at this point check out the Rezi Complete Resume. It’s a safe bet.

Senior Year

Senior year was essentially building on the experience I developed during the previous years and tailoring my resume to reflect this. It was around this time that I first heard about Applicant Tracking Systems, or ATS. The first version was used to land my second “competitive” internship.

The second semester version of this resume is my first attempt at optimizing it to pass ATS. Let’s take a look:

This is the final resume:

Your resume may take a similar path of continued improvement but we suggest you skip right to the punch. Take advantage of years of development and check out the Rezi Template. It’s an optimized resume template that it’s an easy and effective way to make sure your experience is properly formatted and ready to pass Applicant Tracking Systems.