How to Bulk Up Your Curriculum Vitae

Building a CV, or Curriculum Vitae, is a daunting task. It becomes more of a challenge for college moms because we have less time to fill those spaces. But it is possible!

Five years ago, my CV was bare. To be honest, I didn’t have one. So, first things first, YES, you do need one. If not a CV, then a resume (Today we will be discussing the CV so keep an eye out for a post on resume writing).This is the piece of paper you need to have handy when applying to internships and/or campus jobs, among other opportunities. A CV is different from a resume – it highlights your academic rigor, involvement, and plans, while also sharing your experience. A resume’s main focus is job experience.

So, how do you fill this piece of paper with useful information for potential employers and/or future colleges (should you move on to graduate school)? Here are the 6 ways I enhanced my CV before graduating from college:

  1. Join a Club. No, you don’t need to sign over your entire life when choosing to go this route. Joining a club can be an enriching experience with opportunities to gain leadership skills while also networking. The good news is, clubs usually have a minimal time commitment. If you want to take it one step further, you can sign up to be a club officer – a slightly bigger commitment, but not unmanageable. If you can’t find a club you are interested in, be sure to also consider honors programs/societies.
  2. Present research at a Conference. While many people wait until grad school to submit papers to academic conferences, there are opportunities for undergraduates as well. One example in California is the Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR). Attending and presenting research at a conference is a great experience that gives you a chance to exercise your public speaking skills, networking, and building your CV. 
  3. Be creative when listing your current experience. If you can find a job that speaks to your skills and highlights your work in your chosen field, you are on track to fill up your CV. However, if you are currently working, there may be ways to highlight your skills even if your job doesn’t relate. You might be majoring in science or human services but working as an office assistant. No relation, right? Wrong. Analytic skills, communication, organization, and using logic all relate and are used every day as an office assistant. When filling in your CV, think creatively about the experiences you have already had – like being an office assistant.
  4. Gain employment and/or an internship on campus. If you don’t have a job and want to find another way to fund your education, seek on-campus employment. This option is a great one because you are gaining some financial assistance through working with an office or department on campus. Not only will they honor your schedule as a student, but you are already on campus for class – no extra commute! Furthermore, this type of job has a better chance of relating to your major. If you are an English major like me or plan to teach at all, you can work in the writing center. Same goes for math with their tutoring centers. Library science your thing? Apply to be an intern in the library, maybe even their special collections department.
  5. Publish content. Sounds daunting, but it’s not too bad. While publishing articles in academic works is highly respected, in recent years, blog writing has become more valuable than it used to be. This is especially true if you are writing about a topic that is relevant to your desired career, though not necessary.
  6. Speak on a panel. Say what? One of the first ways in which I became involved on campus was to speak on a panel for honors students hoping to transfer. Not only was it a great networking experience, but I added a bullet to my CV. I was proud of this opportunity because it directly related to my career goals. If you are invited to speak on a panel or even just be a guest speaker – do it. Make time because it is worth it. Since that first event three years ago, I have spoken on 4 more panels and have been invited to 2 more!

These are just a few options to consider for bulking up your CV. It has taken me quite a few years to fill mine out but now I feel confident that my experience gives me an edge when I go to apply for a job. Not sure how to format a CV? You can check mine out here. (Note: my volunteer experience is not listed)

Do you have some tips for fellow college moms who need help adding valuable information to a CV? Share it in the comments!

(For more info on the length and content of a CV, visit Columbia University’s Center For Career Education, here. )

Enjoy reading this blog? Check out the book on Amazon: College Success for Moms (will be available on Kindle very soon)

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