Building a Successful Student Resume

September is here, and for many students this means it’s time to apply for co-op positions and internships for the winter semester. These jobs give students real-world experience and connections that you simply can’t get in the classroom. As a student I completed three internships at tech companies – four months as a CMS Developer at T4G Limited and a combined 12 months as a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft Canada. But how do you get a good internship? The key is a memorable and polished resume.


Tailor your resume to the position you are applying for

If you’re applying to a software development internship, does the company really need to know about that summer you worked at McDonald’s in eleventh grade? Unless that’s the only job you’ve had, probably not. Relevant experience is more important than formal experience. Odds are you’ve done some significant projects in school that are more relevant to the job you’re applying to – prioritize these on your resume over less relevant filler jobs so the recruiter is getting the information they will find most useful.

Use specific, results-oriented language

It’s obviously important to highlight what you’ve done, but highlighting how you made an impact will take your resume to the next level. Which sentence gives more useful information: “Acted as co-president of the Women in Technology Society in 2014,” or, “As acting co-president, I grew the society from 6 to 14 active members and launched a new social media campaign that saw a 60% increase in attendance at events in 2014”? While both sentences are acceptable for resumes, the second one is much more informative and gives the recruiter a lot more to work with.

Make your resume stand out with a unique design

I once worked a conference booth at a student recruitment event where students were encouraged to submit their resumes. I must have received 500 sheets of paper that day, and probably only 5 of them stood out visually. Recruiters at big companies receive thousands of resumes – what should make them notice yours? Get creative with colour, layout and graphic elements to make your resume memorable. There are many tools that can help you do this, like Word templates and Enhancv.

Keep it to one page

You may be tempted to “beef up” your resume by listing every position you’ve ever held and every club you’ve ever joined, but too much information can distract from the relevant details the recruiter is looking for. A recruiter doesn’t want to spend twenty minutes reading through every detail of the working period of your life, they want to quickly assess whether you’ve got what it takes for this job. The key sections you should highlight are skills (technical and non-technical), relevant work experience, and education. And contact information, of course.

When it boils down to it, your resume is a distilled representation of you. It should be as ‘you’ as possible. Portray yourself on your resume as you would want someone to perceive you in an interview – professional, competent, and a good fit for the job – and you will have a much better chance of snagging that interview.


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