Resume Advice: Add Your Service Learning and Do It Well

resumeLast week I re-tweeted a link to the Careerealism article about The Most Important Part of Your Resume. The article emphasizes two of my mantras when it comes to resumes: provide quantifiable information and don’t use vague descriptors.

I want to do two things in this post:

1-emphasize the importance of including  rich experiences such as service-learning coursework on resumes.  Too often, students asking me to write letters of recommendation send me resumes devoid of the work they did in my courses. I think that’s just because we don’t typically help students connect the dots between our courses and their professional futures.

2-provide specific examples of what we mean by avoiding vague descriptors and including quantifiable information.

Let’s say you took a service learning course and the placement choices were:

1-working in an after school program for Latino youth in a local public school

2-working as a public relations intern at a rape crisis center.

Here are common first draft resume descriptions of such experiences.  The good news is that those experience have made it onto the resume! An excellent first step. Note that they both lack quantifiable information and are vague:

• Assisted with after school program for Latino youth.

• Worked on pamphlets regarding teen sexual health.

So how can you take those same experiences and make them specific and quantifiable?

Specific: instead of saing “helped with,” “assisted with,” “worked on,” use verbs that tell specifically what you did. For example:

  • Designed and executed lesson plans to advance college preparedness for Latino youth
  • Designed trifold pamphlets about teen sexual health.

That’s a lot better, but they still need quantifiable information.

Quantifiable:

  • Over two semesters, designed four lesson plans for 25 Latino youth in an after school program
  • Over two semesters, designed 3 pamphlets about teen sexual health and distributed to 25 non-profit organizations

Those are solid resume lines that accomplish a lot:

They couch your academic experiences in professional terms. They provide important connections between your campus life and your future work life that you can use when communicating with recommenders, representatives at job fairs, and potential employers. And they are specific and quantifiable!

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