Applying to graduate school can be a long and tedious task. First, there’s researching schools, writing a personal statement, and, depending on the program, you may even have to take an exam. And, more often than not, graduate school applications ask you to submit a résumé. But what exactly makes a grad school résumé different from the one that you provide for potential employers? To help clear up any confusion, we spoke with some graduate school students to find out the tips to help you make yours stand out.
Find Your Focus
Spotlight your education. Since you’re applying to an educational program, your grad school resume should focus more on your education than your standard work resume would. Hattie Clark, a distribution processor at Pension Corporation of America who got her MBA at Xavier University says, “Your graduate school résumé should showcase your skills for said major. For example, if you are going into psychology you’ll want to highlight the research you’ve completed. If you’re pursuing an MBA, you want to highlight what makes you qualified to be a leader in the business world.”
Share your fieldwork: Sarah Yung, who is currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing at The New School, says, “When applying to graduate school, one should definitely tailor their résumé to the degree they’re pursuing, highlighting any relevant experience to show one’s investment in the field. For example, when I was editing my résumé to apply for M.F.A. in Creative Writing programs, I made sure to feature my undergraduate experience as the Editor-in-Chief of my university’s literary and arts magazine and the Copy/Content Editor for the student newspaper, as well as my decade of volunteering at my local library. My intention was to show that I had both breadth and depth, proving my dedication to writing and publishing.”
Highlight your extracurriculars: “It didn’t click until a few months ago at a sorority conference, but the organizations you are involved with in undergrad are teaching you how to work in the professional world. Meetings are run, leadership positions are dispersed, and there are opportunities to explore different paths you may not have thought about. My undergraduate degrees were in theater and history, so I relied heavily on the multitude of organizations I was involved with, as well as the leadership positions I held,” explains Hattie.
Do Your Research
Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Hattie says, “I highly recommend using the career services that your school provides. Whether visiting in person or their resources online. They’re helpful and informative when it comes to writing resumes.”
Know what you are applying for: Different programs look for different experience and work. Make sure to thoroughly research the programs you are applying for. “It’s important to cater the way you word your resume to fit what you’re trying to go to grad school for, whether its business, medical or legal terms,” explains Alexis Newkirk, an MBA student at Louisiana State University.
Don’t Forget the Details
Don’t overdo it: According to Sarah, you should “Limit your résumé to a single page! It may seem difficult, but if seasoned professionals can keep it concise, so can you.”
Include volunteer work and other related experiences outside of school: Neha Tandon, who has a Master of Arts from Syracuse University, says, “I think students should always include any work experience outside of school, even if they are coming straight from their undergraduate degree. It doesn’t have to apply directly to the degree you are applying for, as long as it shows a willingness to learn and a desire to lead.”
Use the power of numbers to your advantage: “Make sure your resume includes both quantifiable and valuable experiences. You can definitely differentiate yourself from other graduate school applicants by providing examples of your involvement that not only show off your skills but most importantly, tell a story…If you were the president of a club, how many members did you lead? If you participated in a community service fundraiser, what was your role and how much money did you raise? If you worked on a project with a team (in school or on the job), how did you add value to the group? These small additions can make a big difference in your application! Ultimately, by quantifying your experiences and showing how you are a valuable asset on your resume, you will become an even stronger candidate during the grad school application process,” explains Kaamilah Furqan, an MS Finance Candidate at USC Marshall School of Business.
Have any additional tips for students applying to grad school? Sound off in the comments below!
Featured image by @marisaganley.