Being a freshman in college you probably have no idea on how to write a CV for internships. Even if you have had your fair share of internships, writing a good CV becomes a hectic process. The vast array of formats online can perfectly complete the task of overwhelming anyone and can be quite frightening for a newer audience.
I have been where you are right now. Scrolling through the length of the internet trying to figure out where to begin, what steps to take and how to write a good CV. Being new to the field you are not only inexperienced in writing such articles but have less experience in the field itself.
So I have prepared an article where I will take you through the steps of writing a good CV which you can use to apply for internships. You can follow the step by step process of setting up a template for your CV. You can subscribe at the end of the post to get a free template. If you want to know how to apply for internships you should read my article on ‘5 Steps towards a Research Internship for Students with No Experience’.
This article includes the following list of topics. Click each heading to go to the section in the article or just read through.
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The topics are:
What is a CV and why do I need one?
If you are in grad school, or even junior or senior year of college you probably have some experience in writing a CV. But the ones starting out don’t have enough experience in their field of study, lack the skills required to write a CV or simply don’t know where to start. A CV or a curriculum vitae is a much-needed document for any application as it displays your strengths, experiences, skills and expertise in front of your recruiter. It is the first piece of document that catches the eye of anyone who is selecting you for a job or is recruiting you for an internship. Merriam-Webster defines curriculum vitae as “a short document that describes your education, work experience, etc.” and it precisely is that.
But why do you need one? Can you not just talk about it in a cover letter? Well, a curriculum vitae is a structured document which highlights your best features. At times, a recruiter doesn’t have the time to go through each and every article and frankly, a long cover letter is just a put-off. A CV helps showcase your best qualities to your recruiter which he/she can just glance through based on which they will assess you to the rest of the candidates. A cover letter is an introduction, but a CV is the first reflection of you.
I think that is enough said about CV, I hope you get a gist of what it is and why you need one. Now off to the steps of writing one.
Step 1: Get the basic introduction to LaTeX
As mentioned in the article ‘A Simple Guide to Understanding LaTeX for All‘ I have written what LaTeX is and why it should be used. But for a brief introduction, LaTeX (pronounced as latekh ) is an OpenSource software (basically means free) which lets you work on the content rather than worrying about the formatting the document. LaTeX comes with an added advantage of giving your CV a professional look. If you happen to use LaTeX on one operator (consider Mac OS) and then choose to edit it on some other operator (consider Windows) the formatting of your document will remain unchanged. However, if you happen to shift from Microsoft word 2017 to Microsoft word 2003, the formatting of your document will change. This is something which is completely avoided by using LaTeX. I suggest you read my article on A Simple Guide to Understanding LaTeX for All to get a better understanding.
You can still use Word or Pages owing to them being in your comfort zone. But if you take out the time to learn to use LaTeX it will help you in the long run. Do have a small glance at Simple Guide to Understanding LaTeX for All before moving further to understand what LaTeX is and how to use it.
For this article, you may use Microsoft Word or Pages or LaTeX as per your liking. However, I suggest you step into learning LaTeX as it will definitely help you through your undergraduate journey.
Step 2: What are you applying for?
Writing a CV for research internships can be a little different from writing a CV entailed for industrial internships. Although here we look into writing a basic curriculum vitae. You must be clear on the subject for which you are applying to as the recruiter might have special skills required which you will have to accommodate as per the guidelines.
Once you are done with this you must tweak your CVs according to your liking.
Step 3: Do a SWOT analysis
What is SWOT and why should I do one?
An acronym for Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats; a SWOT analysis is a detailed technique which helps a person to map out their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Usually used for project planning, doing a SWOT analysis can prove to be quite beneficial for writing a CV as well. Applying SWOT analysis in the context of a career path allowed me to understand my strengths and highlight them in my CV.
If you are starting as a freshman, you probably have little or no work experience. A SWOT analysis will point you towards a direction in writing a CV. Listing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats can prove beneficial in the long run as well because you will have a ground-level assessment of yourself upon which you can improve your career choices and steps.
That said, a SWOT analysis can help even the experienced to better their CV. It will not only help them understand their weaknesses and threats but will let them work on making their strengths and opportunities stronger while converting the unwanted traits into the wanted ones.
Doing a SWOT analysis
Fear not, for those of you don’t know how to do a SWOT analysis I will take you through the process of doing one for yourself.
- STEP A: Create a SWOT table
A SWOT table is a box divided into two rows and two columns with the first two rows stating strengths and weakness respectively and the other row stating opportunities and threats respectively as shown in the figure.
- STEP A: Create a SWOT table
- STEP B: Assess your Strengths
Strengths are positive qualities which are inherent to you and can be controlled by your actions. To assess your strengths you have to think from the perspective of your recruiter. If you are a freshman you can add the work you had done during your school term. The projects you have participated in. If you are members of any technical societies in your college you could write about the current work you are doing. Being an active participant in a volunteer club can qualify as a strength as well. You can write about cultural clubs as well which portrays your extra-curricular activities, being a team player e.t.c.
- STEP C: Assess your Weaknesses
Weaknesses are internal qualities which are inherent to you and can be controlled by your actions. One of the greatest weakness that a freshman can come up with is that of inexperience. You should, however, make a genuine assessment of your weaknesses. Remember, in this section, you have to be true to your self. Other weaknesses could include a low grade point average (GPA), lack of technical skills, e.t.c. Basically, think of your traits on which you would like to work on.
- STEP D: Assess your Opportunities
Now, opportunities are different from strengths. They are positive external qualities which cannot be controlled by you but can help you out. For instance, an internship opening falls your way; this will be an opportunity. Some more opportunities may be you starting a new project which will add to your strengths, new advances in your field of study e.t.c.
- STEP E: Assess your Threats
Threats are negative external qualities which cannot be controlled by you but can wear you down. For example, if you are in a field where little advancement it being made, or when the competition in your field of study is too high e.t.c.
Once you are done with this section you will have a list personal to you; a roadmap which can help you work on your strengths and opportunities and minimise your weaknesses and threats. You will also get a better-structured idea as to what you should add to your CV.
Step 4: Focus on your strengths, but don’t forget your weaknesses
Now the next step focusses on the development of your CV. Although your listed strengths and opportunities can help you make your chances better, you must not forget the weakness and threats. You should instead divide them into two sections:
- Can change -> effective immediately:
For instance, one of your weakness includes ‘Haven’t worked on any projects’. In this case, you must join a technical society, a cultural club or start working towards a project which can help you out in your CV. Even if the project is small it will teach you aspects such as being a team player, writing a report, using new software. No one expects you to be an expert from the beginning but they do expect that you are on the path to be one.
- Can change -> with time:
Now anything can change with time. If your weakness includes ‘Less technical knowledge’ you can always take up the subject in the semesters to come which will change your weakness into your strength. Your aim should be to make the strong stronger and the weak strong.
Step 5: Start writing your CV using Grammarly
Once you are done with all the steps above it is time to learn to write a CV. This is also the time when you will want to make a selection between LaTeX or any other editor.
When it comes to writing cover letters, a small mistake can go a long way. One of the most important things a professor will expect of you is to know your grammar. It is the most important tool for any researcher. Papers can get rejected due to bad grammar. In such cases, it is always crucial to get all the help you can. If a professor comes across a badly written CV with grammatical mistakes, that might be a make or break point to your application. It might be treated as a sign of clumsiness.
Grammarly is the perfect tool when it comes to being a proofreader or a grammar checker. Being The World’s Best Automated Proofreader, Grammarly is a great tool for any student. It is simple to use, easy to sign in to and can be employed virtually to any editor. Offering as an add-on to MS word, your emails, a plugin to web browsers and even to the LaTeX editor, Grammarly can save your CV from avoidable mishaps. Get Grammarly to proofread for you!
I will now list down all the things you must have in your CV.
- Your name, contact number, email address, type of document
> Degree working for
> University name (20xx-20xx)
> Minor (If any)
- Awards and Honours
> Volunteer works (If any)
> Technical awards (If any)
> Any projects done in school or if currently doing
> Any research experience
- Publications and Presentations
> Any publications in journals, conferences or presentations
- Leadership Experience
> If ever held position of leadership (school or university)
- Teaching Experience
> If any (TA)
- Technical Skills
> All the coding languages, softwares, operating systems
- Course Work
> All the subjects you have taken in university
These are the sections which you should include in your CV if they apply to you. The list will help you segregate parts from most relevant to least relevant.
Try to fit your CV within two to two and a half pages and do not make the font super small to accommodate the page limitation. It should be legible. Subscribe to get a free template in your mail along with a SWOT sheet.
Thanks a lot for reading this post! I hope the steps help you pave a path towards writing a killer CV. Subscribe to the list below if you want a free template of a CV. Also, please do comment on the post below if you have any questions or send me a message. I will reply to you as soon as I can!
If you want to know how to apply for research internships do read the post ‘5 Steps towards a Research Internship for Students with No Experience’ where I take you through a step by step process of the process of an application. Or you can check out how to excel in academic writing (essays, CVs etc) Latex and a cover letter. It will definitely help you out!
Treat me with a cup of coffee if this post helped you in any way! 😀
You should check out my other articles as well!