If you are a College or University student looking for an internship or your first job, you could be feeling anxious about writing that all-important CV.
With plenty of students and fresh graduates entering the job market each year, 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:
- What Hiring Managers Look For In College / University Student Resumes
- Additional CV Writing Tips for College / University Students
- College / University Student Job Opportunities
- Job Search Tips for College / University Studnets
Ready? Let’s dive in!
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. [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.]
- 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 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 SGD20,000.
- Bachelor of Science (Hons) | National University of Singapore | Mechanical 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, Singapore, 2018 [If you have any industry-related certificates or memberships, include them! It shows active interest in your industry.]
- Nationality: Singaporean
- 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
Writing a College / University Student Resume
Let’s analyse what made Sara’s CV so good. In this section we will share the best strategies to write a College/Student Resume.
1. Resume Header
State your Name, Email Address and Contact Number clearly in your header. There is no need to put your home address or identification number (NRIC).
2. Executive Summary
An Executive Summary is the opening paragraph of your CV. It’s a summary of your overall career.
As University Students, think of this as the high level Abstract or Thesis of a research paper.
It provides a snapshot of your overall experience and top skills.
In the 6 seconds recruiters spend reading your CV, they will read your Executive Summary first.
Be sure to present your unique selling point and career narrative in your Executive Summary.
First, let us show you what to avoid:
- I am a final-year Mechanical Engineering student seeking opportunities in manufacturing and energy industries. Prior internship experience in Engineering Solutioning and Glass Manufacturing.
- Analsed complex experiment results, wrote lab reports and worked with other colleagues and classmates to conduct research within laboratory setting. Also possessed practical experience in robotics and on robot programming methodology.
- Acted as Organizing Committee member during key University events.
Now look at Sara’s Executive Summary:
- 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.
- Practical experience in robotics, having supported solutioning, design, and production phases of robotics-based projects. Previously advised and presented on robot programming methodology.
- Effective team player, having facilitated collaborative research efforts in analysing results and authoring lab reports in conjunction with a diverse range of team members.
- Established leadership skills acquired through management and organisation of key University events attracting over 5000 participants.
What makes the second one better?
- Third-person Perspective: Sara writes her resume in the third-person perspective. By leaving out first-person pronouns like “I”, her resume conveys a more professional tone, creating a polished first impression. In comparison, the first Executive Summary reads quite amateurish and unprofessional.
- Clarity of Thought: Each bulletpoint in Sara’s Executive Summary communicates one point. Not only does this help the reader understand the key skills Sara is trying to convey when they read her resume, but it also demonstrates organisation and clarity of thought. In contrast, the first Executive Summary combines multiple key points about the candidate’s experience into one line. This leads to lengthy sentences and confusion for the reader.
- Main Point First: In her Executive Summary, Sara displays the most prominent skill at the start of each bulletpoint. The reader does not need to read the entirety of every sentence to grasp Sara’s key skills.
- Specific Information: When featuring her co-curricular experience, Sara writes specific numbers. This gives recruiters a sense of the event’s scale. She also identifies her specific contributions when highlighting Group Project experience. In contrast, the previous Executive Summary is riddled with generic statements that seem to mask the candidate’s real abilities. This is a huge red flag for recruiters!
ResumeWriter Tip: If you’re struggling to write an Executive Summary, don’t fret! Writing an effective Executive Summary can be challenging. We’ve helped over 10,000 clients with our Free CV Feedback. Will you be the next?
3. Key Skills to include in a College / University Student Resume
After captivating the recruiter with a strong Executive Summary, you want to show them specific skills you can bring to the table.
In this section, insert skills that you are proficient in. Be mindful to include exact keywords used in the job description. This increases the chances of getting your resume past ATS scanners (resume scanning software).
As a University student, you might not have as many Hard or Technical Skills as professionals in the workforce. Don’t fret! This is not unusual.
The secret to writing Key Skills as a student who’s still studying would be to extract transferable skills you have picked up from Lectures, Co-curricular Experiences and Group Projects.
In her resume, Sara lists her Engineering software she uses as Key Skills. However, if you might not be as fluent in as many technical skills, you can also consider writing soft skills in your Resume. Such skills include Communication, Negotiation, Leadership, Planning and Coordination. However, we would suggest supporting these Soft Skills with your experiences further in your Resume.
ResumeWriter Tip: Always scan the job application and add the exact key phrases used in the description, into your resume.
Examples of College / University Student Key Skills:
- Graphic Design
- Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator/Premiere Pro
- Data Analysis
- Teaching or Tutoring
- Event Planning
- Event Promotion
- Social Media Marketing
- Campaign Management
- Public Speaking
- Microsoft Excel
- Microsoft PowerPoint
- Customer Service
- Problem Solving
- Conflict Management
- Organizational Skills
- Active Listening
4. Work Experiences in College / University Student Resumes
Some of you students might not have many Work Experiences, especially if you had just started University.
As such, a handful might decide to list every single Work Experience held across their entire lives. This includes Waitering roles during Secondary school or Packer roles in Polytechnic. With these roles, their resume becomes lenghthier, even stretching beyond 3 pages!
Avoid doing this!
A lengthier resume does not imply it is a better resume. Nor does it put you at an advantage over other applicants.
In fact, the opposite is more likely to happen! A lengthy resume filled with dated or irrelevant information distracts and confuses your reader. They are unlikely to read it.
Keep your Work Experiences concise, relevant and to the point. Cluster daily workscopes around responsibilities and high-level summaries. Omit implied workscopes to save space.
Don’t fluff your resume to lengthen it for the sake of writing a longer resume!
This was how Sara had written her original Work Experience:
- Helped Robotics team with a wide range of operations related to Development and Engineering. Contributed to Client Discussions, Prototype sketching, and Preparation of Presentation Slides for a range of internal and external stakeholders.
- Worked closely with full-time team on various tasks including preparation of presentation slides to local engineers and company management.
- Produced detailed drawings of solutions after working with Robotics engineers in my assigned department. Reviewed and iterated drawings with Clients afterwards.
Here’s how we improved her resume’s Work Experiences.
- 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.
- Studied clients’ unique needs, brainstormed with engineers on potential solutions, and produced detailed drawings (Solidwords) of solutions including custom machine and robot grip mounts.
- Guided and mentored standalone customers; prepared presentation slides to deliver basic robot programming training to local engineers.
Clearly, the latter Work Experience example reads so much better than the former.
- Firstly, the second Work Experience example is so much easier to read. Each bulletpoint conveyed one key trait. In contrast, the earlier Work Experience example compresses multiple workscopes into one lengthy point.
- It is easy to infer Sara’s responsibilities from just one glance.
- The second example highlighted specific traits. We know exactly how Sara collaborated with her assigned department colleagues: by accompanying them for client discovery sessions, working with them to brainstorm potential solutions for their problems, then assisting with formulating solutions. In contrast, the first example only told readers what she did in a vague, disorganized manner.
- Implied work experiences like attending meetings are omitted.
5. Key Achievements
Writing effective workscopes is important.
But Achievements are the X-factor that help YOU stand out from other applicants.
Want to make a hiring manager go “WOW!” when they read your resume?
Be more than just another ‘student jobseeker’!
Build a trophy case, and show off your achievements AND past projects.
Take a look at this example.
- 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.
Isn’t this a remarkable achievement?
Sara’s workscopes tells us she has decent Engineering experience as a student.
But this Achievement, shows how she successfully KILLS IT in her role – they show us her leadership skills!
She dangles these juicy results in front of us recruiters’ eyes.
As recruiters, we’d LOVE to call her in for an interview!
As students, it might be easy to write only Work Experiences in your Resume.
But writing great Achievements – Achievements that show business results or evidence of your Leadership and Management skills – are the secret sauce to a successful resume.
As a University Student, however, what kinds of Achievements could you write?
- Include projects which you have led and their resulting tangible business benefits. These benefits could be:
- Revenue gain
- Costs saved
- Time saved
- Awards, if any
- Tie your Projects to business benefits. Hiring managers and employers want to see your results.
- Include as many details as possible on the success of your projects. With the advent of Project Management software and methodologies, there is plenty of emphasis these days on metrics from projects you’ve managed. Effective metrics to capture include:
- Productivity gains
- Revenues from marketing projects you spearheaded
- Costs saved
- Don’t limit Achievements to prior Internship or Work Experiences! Take advantage of your co-curricular activities or volunteer experiences too. If you are active in these domains, insert these Achievements into your resume.
ResumeWriter Tip: Inspired to enhance your own Resume after reading Sara’s example? We have a Undergraduate Package just for students like you! Check it out here.
College / University Student Job Search Strategies
Before writing your resume, we recommend you have a few job titles and their workscopes in mind. This helps you tailor your resume towards these roles when you begin writing, by weaving target keywords and skillsets directly into your resume. This positions you as a more relevant candidate and saves you time during your job search.
We would also recommend you feature only relevant and current information in your CV. The accomplishments and leadership experiences from your University days are more valuable than awards or events you had organized in Secondary school. It’s always good practice to keep your CV up to date – even throughout your career!
What Hiring Managers Look For in College / University Student Resumes
- Firstly, it is important to remember that Hiring Managers understand if you might not possess a wealth of Work Experience in your CV. This is perfectly acceptable. What they want to see, however, is evidence of relevant, transferable and useful skills that clearly show them you are capable of learning fast and doing the job well, despite your initial inexperience.
- As such, it is more valuable if you write a shorter but concise one-page CV demonstrating your top skills, competencies, and Achievements, rather than a five-page CV listing every single work experience you’ve had since Secondary school.
- When writing your resume, ask yourself: “How can what I’ve done apply to this employer’s firm?” If there are transferable skills, highlight this relevance clearly.
- Beyond hard and technial skills, other important qualities that you can consider including in your CV 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.
- When writing Soft Skills, be sure to support them with evidence in your Work Experience and Achievements sections.
- Finally, watch the fluff! College and University students have a tendency to inflate their resumes. This is natural, especially since Universities train students to write well, and there are career counselors who students can consult. However, we suggest keeping your CV down-to-earth and easy to read. Competent HR professionals can sniff through the fluff. Don’t oversell yourself or use overly-complex jargon in your CV in a bid to impress them. Instead, keep your CV clear, easy to read and relevant to what they’re looking out for – we assure you they will be more impressed this way!
Common Challenges Faced when Writing CVs and How to Overcome Them
- Writing a CV as a College / University student can be challenging. This might be the first time you’re writing such an important professional document! Here are some common challenges that the University students we’ve worked with had faced when writing their CVs (before engaging us, of course!):
Having Nothing to Write in their CVIf you are applying for your first internship or corporate job, your CV is likely quite sparse. Fret not! This is perfectly acceptable for a University/College student. In fact, it’s more common than you think! If you find yourself in this position, you might consider writing about these in your CV:
- Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs): If you’ve participated in CCAs, OCSPs, CIPs, or School events, you can include such information in your resumes. CCAs are a great opportunity for you to demonstrate evidence of leadership, communication, negotiation, and event planning skills in your resumes. These skills help you stand out from other applicants, since not all College / University students might have similar opportunities to manage such events, even if they might have more Work Experience than you. The key lies in linking these school or CCA activities to skills that are sought after in the working world.
- Volunteer Activities: Like CCAs, Volunteer activities are also potential extracurricular activities you can write in your CV.
- Part-Time Work: You might also consider listing some part-time jobs you had taken on in the past. These roles include Waiter, Retail Assistant and Tutor jobs. While they may not seem relevant at first glance, there is potential to highlight how you’ve demonstrated Problem Solving, Communication or Client-Facing skills. If you have other more recent and relevant roles, however, we encourage prioritising them over part-time or temporary work when writing your CV.
If you’re still stuck or unsure, let us help! We can walk through your career history, goals and experiences together to help you produce a tailored, effective and professional resume.
Still a Freshmen or Sophomore with No Work Experience
- If you’ve cracked your head thinking of relevant Work Experiences or University CCAs, and are still struggling to think of what to write, you could consider writing JC and Secondary School experiences and CCAs. However, we recommend including recent experiences as far as possible.
If my Grades are Poor, do I write them on my CV?
- We always recommend writing grades on your CV as a general rule of thumb.
- If your grades are excellent, and you’re on the Dean’s List, won a scholarship, or received an award, include that on your CV!
- You might wish to omit a poor GPA/CAP when writing your CV. However, we acknowledge that grades are useful in getting yourself through the door.
- Omit PSLE, ‘O’ Level and ‘A’ Level scores from your CV. Your CV should focus only on your tertiary experience, be it Polytechnic or University experience. Remember – your CV should always reflect the most up-to-date information!
What to Write in a CV if Past Internship and Work Experiences are Irrelevant to Career Goals
- This is perfectly acceptable! Internships are excellent opportunities for you to experiment with differnet career options to see which suit your personality type and interests.
- Even if your prior Internships and Work Experiences may not be directly related to your future career goals, you should still leave them in your CV. This conveys to employers that you possess prior Work Experience, and gives you the opportunity to highlight transferable skills and Accomplishments that distinguish you from other College / University Students.
- In fact, some employers might see your exposure to various industries and job functions as a benefit!
Additional College / University Student Resume Writing Tips
- Your resume needs to be easy to read and absorb. Consider breaking your Work Experience section into two parts – Daily Workscopes and Achievements.
- Keep Daily Workscopes concise and to the point. Omit implied workscopes (workscopes that are clearly related to your job title) and administrative tasks. These eat up space in your CV. Omitting them makes your CV easier for recruiters to read.
- Highlight Achievements clearly. Your Achievements give you a distinct competitive advantage over other applicants who likely share very similar experiences and domain knowledge as you. Write Achievements separately from your Workscopes for maximum impact.
- Keep your resume to 1-2 pages in length. Try your best to present all relevant information within these pages. As a student with little or no work experience, it would be unusual to have a lengthy resume.
- Make sure your CV looks presentable. It’s critical that your CV evokes the right first impression of you as a candidate. When the reader opens your CV, they should see your professionalism, organisational skill, and attention to detail. Most employers take 6 seconds to scan through your CV – make every second count!
- Avoid spelling errors, poor formatting, and other careless mistakes. These will hurt your chances! I’ve seen many CVs get rejected because they are poorly formatted or hard to read.
- Review our CV Writing Guide – our Ultimate Guide to Writing a WINNING CV goes into great detail on how to properly write each section of your CV.
Job and Internship Opportunities for College / University Students
- As a University or College Student, it is common for your University to organise regular job fairs and networking sessions for you to discover companies in Singapore. If you’re given this opportunity, we strongly recommend that you take advantage of them! Not only do you get a chance to interact with employers first-hand, but you also get to learn more about the company’s strengths, services and company culture.
- Your Professors or Network might have industry connections who you can tap on.
- Your CCAs and Internships are also great ways to meet professionals in the industry who you can learn from.
- Many local universities also have their own Career Services offices. Not only do they provide CV and Cover Letter Coaching services, but they also offer career counseling and job interview preparation. Seek them out and use these resources to your advantage! 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.
- Finally, don’t forget to network! Networking plays a critical role in helping you to seek hidden career opportunities that might not be publicly posted on job boards.
Before you start applying for jobs, why not reach out to us for a Free CV Feedback session? We will look through your CV and provide detailed and expert analysis. It’s 100% free and non-obligatory!
Job Search Tips for College / University Students
- If you would like to specialise in competitive or niche industries, consider picking up new and relevant licenses or certifications, and attending workshops. For instance, the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) qualification is a common route into the Big Four accounting firms in Singapore. Another common qualification 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.
- 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. This sample is available for free 🙂
Before you start applying for roles, don’t forget to redeem your Free CV Analysis with 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.