Randy Guthrie, PhD – Microsoft Technical Evangelist
In several previous blog posts I have covered how to write an accomplishments-based resume and related job-application documents:
I have also produced a couple video workshops that cover the same topic in a bit more detail:
These materials have been well regarded as examples of how to highlight work-related experiences, but I frequently get questions from students about how they would go about putting a meaningful school project on their resume. This is a great question that deserves a detailed answer.
First, I think I should discuss what I believe a meaningful school project is. By meaningful, I mean a project that has the ability of being assessed by outsiders and where there is proof that the assessment was positive. For example, if you enter your project in a contest outside of a class assignment and it receives an award, then that is one measure of “meaningful”. Another way of determining “meaningful” would be to publish a web site or mobile app, and then be able to report significant usage or downloads via some kind of dashboard analytics. When you have created a project that you can support its success as a quantified accomplishment (see the resume links above), then you have something worth putting on a resume.
For a student, there are two sections you can potentially put your project accomplishments in: the education section, or the career section. While the formatting is similar, there are some differences worth noting.
In the education section, right below where you show what your major is and expected graduation, and potentially the courses completed, you can create a section titled “Other Academic Achievements” where you highlight awards as shown below:
My recommendation for adding technical accomplishments would be to write something like this:
The other way to present your project experience is to consider yourself as an entrepreneur and list your projects as projects you worked on for your business, as this student did with the mobile apps she made. Some were for class credit and others were for personal experience, but as soon as they were published into the store, they were under her publisher name and hence her business:
I know for a fact that companies look at this kind of experience as almost like an internship, so I tend to prefer this approach when you have a lot of measureable results such as page views or downloads, and when some of your projects go beyond what was required.
Some students will use both approaches, putting the things they did purely for school credit in the Education section and the personal learning projects into their Career section, which helps fill out the page, and give a subtle appearance of more experience. Whichever way you decide to go, make sure you quantify your accomplishment with numbers as shown in the examples above.