Peer Talk: Let’s Build a Resume!

Nariana Sands

During my first semester in college, a huge question that I often asked myself was, “What do I need to do in order to get a job?”  My goal was to graduate from college with a full-time job offer at a company that matched my interests.  However, to get a job offer, I was told that I first needed experience.  In other words, I needed an internship.  So, my next question to myself was, “What’s the first step that I need to take in order to get an internship?”  This is a common question that many students ask, and it’s an important one.  Whether students are fresh out of high school or in graduate school, the answer remains the same.

The first step to get an internship is to have a resume.  A resume is a (one-page) document that tells employers all about you— your academic and work history, your accomplishments, and more.  No two resumes are the same because no two people are the same.  With that said, here are three general tips that can help you build your resume: “Know your history”, “Know your audience,” and, “Be truthful.”

To begin building your resume, you must first “Know your history.”  In college, most employers want to know what schools you have attended, your GPA, classes you have taken that might be useful in a position, the organizations in which you’ve been involved or had a leadership role, work history (if you have any), and your most outstanding awards or accomplishments.  Employers want to know what makes students stand out!  Always record the things you have done that might be “resume-worthy” in the future.

Next, you must “Know your audience.”  The information you should display on a resume depends on the place where you want to work.  For instance, a technical company may want to see what math and science classes students have taken or what research students have done.  Meanwhile, a non-profit organization may want to see a history of community service projects students have participated in.  You may ask, “How can you know exactly what employers want to see?”  Most organizations have information about their hiring policies or preferences on their official website.  Make sure you research an employer before interview day!  Being able to give employers the relevant information that they want saves them time and increases your chances of being interviewed and eventually hired.

With that being said, you must always “Be truthful” on your resume.  If an employer is looking for a candidate with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and you have a 2.8, make sure you put down what is accurate.  You can be caught lying if they request an official transcript.  You should never lie about what you have and haven’t done.  You must explain things on your resume in an interview.  Avoid the awkward situation where an employer asks about that magnificent-sounding tagline you typed under a past job, and you have nothing to say because it’s untrue.  There are ways to embellish experiences without lying.  Employers skim for key words in resumes, depending on how much time they have and how many resumes they must review.  Consider these two taglines for the same previous position as a fundraiser:

  1. “Requested money from alumni for the school.”
  2. “Raised over $5,000 in one month to support the new pre-school education building.”

Which one sounds more impressive?  B, right?  When describing your history, it is vital to use positive facts (remember, “Be truthful!”) and action verbs.  “Raising” money is more impressive than simply “requesting” money.  In this scenario, both are true statements.

Building a resume may seem like a big task to accomplish.  However, students don’t have to do it alone!  Recommend that students explore career services on campus and have one-on-one meetings with advisors.  A resume can be changed as many times as needed, and improvements can always be made.  Samples of resumes are available on

Good luck and happy building!



Nariana Sands
Southern Methodist University • Dallas, TX, USA
Computer Science

For Nariana Sands, education has always been a top priority. She graduated as the valedictorian of her high school in 2012. She currently studies Computer Science in order to fulfill her desire to create innovative ways to inspire others, especially minorities, to make education their top priority. She is the Vice President of the SMU chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, a mentor in the CONNECT program in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and a Bible study leader in SMU’s multi-ethnic chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. For the last two summers, she has also been an intern in the Emerging Technologies department at AT&T’s Dallas headquarters.

When she isn’t busy with her organizations and work, she enjoys playing volleyball, basketball, and tennis with friends. She loves to go out with her friends to the movies, as well. You’ll always spot her wearing something yellow, her favorite color.

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