As a college or university student looking for an internship or applying for your very first job, it’s understandable that you might be a little anxious about how to write that all-important CV.
With the recent influx of people into the job market, it is important to reflect your expertise and ability well in your CV in order to stand out from the crowd. As such, to ensure that you are ahead of the competition, we’ll show you how you can write a winning resume that highlights your capabilities.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- About the college or university student Role
- What Hiring Managers Look For In College / University Student Resumes
- College / University Student Job Opportunities
- Job Hunting Tips from our Resident Headhunter
College / University Student CV [Full Sample]
Here’s a full College / University Student resume sample, which we wrote for a client recently.
- Final year Mechanical Engineering student with previous internship experience in supporting engineering solutioning for international energy firm specialising in power and automation technologies, and in multinational glass manufacturing giant. [This bullet point needs to capture your entire life-story in a nutshell. As a student, you are unlikely to have much, if any, practical working experience. As such, the important aspects to include are your internship experience. If you lack internship experience, you can also highlight transferable skills as demonstrated through project work, CCAs, attachments, etc.]
- Practical experience in robotics, having supported solutioning, design, and production phases of robotics-based projects. Previously advised and presented on robot programming methodology. [While employers won’t expect much of students, it’s always beneficial to list out your practical skillsets. This gives you an advantage over others who may not have your expertise. Depending on your industry, employers may also expect a basic level of competency (such that they don’t need to train you from scratch), and highlighting your knowledge becomes a must.]
- Effective team player, having facilitated collaborative research efforts in analysing results and authoring lab reports in conjunction with a diverse range of team members. [You can also list your soft skills. However, be sure to back subjective statements (such as this one! ‘effective team player’ has different meaning to different people) with objective, concrete evidence.]
- Established leadership skills acquired through management and organisation of key University events attracting over 5000 participants. [Leadership of CCAs and event organisation show that you’ve been involved in University life, and aren’t just a ‘study machine’. It’s important to demonstrate that you are exposed to areas other than pure academics.]
- Supported 5-axis robot division in wide range of development-related operations. Responsible for assisting in on-site programming, customer needs analysis and custom solution design for niche applications. [The first line of each section of experience should summarise and highlight your duties, responsibilities, and contributions.]
- Studied clients’ unique needs, brainstormed with engineers on potential solutions, and produced detailed drawings (Solidwords) of solutions including custom machine and robot grip mounts. [Elaborate on your responsibilities as far as possible. Future employers would like to hire someone who actively contributes, and this is demonstrated by showing the different duties you handled.]
- Guided and mentored standalone customers; prepared presentation slides to deliver basic robot programming training to local engineers.
- Led team of 4 interns and coordinated with Marketing department to prepare for Tech Asia robot launch ever attracting>10000 participants, programming demonstration units to perform stunts to attract customers.
- Carried out 3D design drawing and used SolidWorks software to carry out solid modelling computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE). [If you used any industry-standard software, or gained exposure to standard industry tools, include it! Such experience will be useful in future, as it demonstrates competency in oft-used areas, which means that you will be able to start contributing earlier.]
- Led team of 4 interns and coordinated with Marketing department to prepare for Tech Asia robot launch ever attracting>10000 participants, programming demonstration units to perform stunts to attract customers. [If you have contributed in a particularly significant manner, or successfully completed a high-profile, list it down! It shows you’re making the best use of your internship experience.]
- Led department’s Level 2 training programme, guiding the Head of Technicians and an administrative staff member to create training modules and carry out demonstrations; partnered with department manager to ensure fulfilment of programme’s objectives.
- Liaised with heads of plantation estates and hospitals in the area to arrange for medical assistance for the needy in three different areas over 3 weeks.
- Led 3 departments (Public Relations, Sponsorship, and Technical & Media) over a 3-month period to organise a fundraising concert attracting crowd of ~5000. [Contextualise your events and/or achievements. Show how large that event was, how many people took part, how many beneficiaries it helped, etc. This gives some sense of the scale and difficulty of the event, and thereby your skill and the competencies you have developed.]
- Directly negotiated with companies, arranging sponsorship agreements and advertisement requirements, totalling a sum of RM20,000.
- Bachelor of Science (Hons), University of Kuala Lumpur , Mech. Engineering (Projected Second Upper) ,Est. Graduation: May 2019 [Even though you are still schooling, put the degree name and quantify it with a statement saying that you are still studying ‘In Progress’ or ‘Est Graduation in xxx’]
- Dean’s list award in 2017 & 2018 for outstanding academic performance Academic excellence should be highlighted. If your GPA/CAP is above average, include it. Otherwise, omit it.]
- Received A+ for final year project on thermal performance of ceramic bonded aerogels
- Achieved Distinctions in EG1112 Engineering Principles and Practice, ME2134 Fluids Mechanics, and ME2121 Engineering Thermodynamics [If you are looking for roles related to your field of study, you can consider highlighting relevant modules you have performed particularly well in.]<
- Student Member, Institution of Engineers, Malaysia, 2018 [If you have any industry-related certificates or memberships, include them! It shows active interest in your industry.]
- Nationality: Malaysian
- Languages: Fluent in English and Bahasa Melayu
- Availability: Immediate [Be cautious about your availability, especially if you are applying for an off-cycle internship or similar]
References available upon request
About the College / University Student Role
Do be sure about what job you want to apply for when crafting your resume, and gear its content towards that – after all, it’s no use for you to highlight your programming skills if you’re applying for an internship in an industry where programming isn’t used at all.
Also, make sure that the information in your CV is relevant and current – it’s usually better for you to include information about the recent academic paper you got published, rather than about your Malaysia Youth Festival accomplishments way back in your JC days. Your CV is your profile now – keep it up to date!
What Hiring Managers Look For in College Student Resumes
- Your resume should provide a complete overview of your skills and experience, detailing in whatever length necessary your experience with in the industry that you’re applying to, as well as your own educational credentials and certifications.
- Important qualities that you can consider including in your resume include critical thinking and problem-solving skills, communication (both written and verbal), resourcefulness, and the ability to work both independently and as part of a larger department. You should make sure to showcase these skills and abilities in your resume.
- The important thing to have in your CV is transferable experience, skillsets, and competencies. How can what you’ve done apply to the employer’s firm?
- Watch the fluff! There’s a tendency for college/university students to inflate job descriptions and achievements. This is perfectly natural – most students are extremely good at languages, and this translates to CV writing. At the same time, keep it down-to-earth – CV puffery can easily be seen through by a competent HR officer. There’s nothing wrong with phrasing a role in ‘good resume language’, but don’t oversell yourself too much!
Common Challenges Faced when Writing CVs and How to Overcome Them
- Writing a CV as a university student is challenging, regardless of whether you’re in your first year or your last. These are a few common issues I’ve seen when advising uni students on CV writing:
I’ve got nothing to put on my CV ☹Applying for your first internship? This often means your CV is rather sparse – you don’t have any previous experience, as this is literally your first experience in the professional corporate world. What on earth do you put on your CV? How do you write a resume with no work experience?
- Part-Time Work: If you’ve taken up part-time jobs in the past, for instance as a waiter, retail executive, tutor, etc., include it! Oftentimes, the skills you learn are very transferable – for instance, retail teaches you to be good at a client-facing role, and to be effective in communicating with others, which is applicable to a huge range of roles in almost every industry.
- CCAs: If you’ve participated in CCAs, OCSPs, CIPs, event or camp organisation, etc., you can include such information on your resume. Similarly, the process of participating in these areas often equips you with skills which are sought after in the working world.
I haven’t done any of that yet – I’m a freshman/sophomore!
- In general, I’d leave out JC and secondary school experience when writing CVs. They’re just so far in the past for most of my clients. But for you, they’re quite recent! You can include JC CCAs and achievements on your CV, but try to include university-level ones where possible.
My grades suck, what should I do? Do I put them on my CV anyway?
- Grades aren’t everything, although they’re useful in getting yourself through the door. You can simply omit your GPA/CAP when writing your CV. Alternatively, if your grades are excellent, and you’re on the Dean’s List, won a scholarship, or received some award – include that on your CV!
- You can also leave out your A-level and O-level grades. Your CV should focus on your tertiary experience (poly or uni-level). Remember – a CV is a picture of you now! You should therefore try to include the most up-to-date info when writing your resume.
My past internships/working experience have nothing to do with the field I want to join. What do I include and what do I leave out on the CV?
- Not a problem! Internships are a way of seeing whether you want to pursue a full-time career in the field anyway.
- You should include past experience in your CV anyway. It demonstrates that you have previous working experience, and as I keep emphasising, transferable skills are really the name of the game in any college-level CV. Employers don’t expect as much when you’re still a student – it’s perfectly fine to have experience in different fields on your CV (and that might even be a benefit!).
Additional College Resume Writing Tips
- Your resume needs to be easy for employers to read quickly and absorb key points. You may, therefore, wish to break your previous internship/work experiences into two parts – your daily workscope, and your achievements. For daily workscopes, make sure that is it short and to the point – workscopes which are implied in your job title can be omitted. Remember, you want to keep your resume short and sharp for recruiters.
- As a student with little or no work experience yet, it would be unusual to have a very lengthy resume or CV. Make sure to keep your resume to 1-2 pages with all relevant information presented.
- Make sure your CV looks presentable. As there’s very little to judge you on, you must make a good first impression. When the reader first sets eyes on your CV, they should see your professionalism, organisational skill, and attention to detail. Spelling errors, poor formatting, and other careless mistakes like these are huge turn-offs. I’ve seen many CVs get rejected out of hand because they are poorly formatted or hard to read. Most employers take 6 seconds to scan through your CV – make them count!
- You can look through my other CV writing guides for more information – our Ultimate Guide to Resume Writing goes into great detail on every section of your CV and how to properly write them.
Job and Internship Opportunities for College Students
- Usually, as a college student, your university will organise regular job fairs for you to network and learn more about various companies in Malaysia. These fairs are a good place for you to get a sense of who is hiring, as well as where you might wish to apply to for internships/jobs.
- Networking is important as well. Your professors may have industry connections; CCAs and internships are also good ways to meet professionals in the industry, and to learn from them.
- Many local universities also have their own career services offices, or career coaching. Seek out and use these resources to your advantage! Some offer advice on CV writing; others also go a step further and teach you how to interview, search for jobs, network, etc. Many students don’t use these until it’s too late. They’re excellent advantages to have, and great starting points – most career counsellors are very experienced in their respective fields, and can advise you on your career trajectory, how to break into the industry, etc. Don’t waste the opportunity.
Job Hunting Tips from our Resident Headhunter
- Consider new and relevant licenses, certifications, and workshops if you would like to specialise in a certain area. For instance, the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) qualification is a common route into the Big Four accounting firms in Malaysia, and so is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification.
- Create a winning cover letter and send it along your resume. The cover letter will serve as an introduction about yourself and is a great venue to answer the question “Why should we hire you?”
- Landed an interview? Great! Be sure to prepare well for these common interview questions, and follow our tips and tricks to ace your job interview.
- Landed an interview? Great! Be sure to prepare well in advance. Interviews are a great way to demonstrate that you’re the best candidate for the position you want. Here are some tips and tricks for acing job interviews.
- Keep working hard. Get ahead of the competition!
Before You Go…
Be sure to download this resume sample, which uses our tested-and-proven resume writing techniques, as a guide for your own CV. Best part is, this sample is available for free 🙂
And before you start sending out applications, send us your resume for a free CV feedback analysis from our team. We’ll review your CV in detail, share personalised feedback on its strengths and weaknesses, and show you how you can improve it.