End of Summer? Update your Resume

From the MechE Peer Advising Blog, http://asme.scripts.mit.edu/home/meche-peer-advising/, this post is entitled “End of Summer? Update Your Resume.” – link to original: http://asme.scripts.mit.edu/home/end-of-summer-update-your-resume/


Slowly, everyone seems to be making their way back to campus – some 2017′s even started moving into East Campus today. This is my third summer living on campus or in Cambridge Port so I guess I never really left. Thus, marking 1,000+ days of continually residing in Cambridge!

I’m going to go ahead and make the claim that the best time to update your resume is in the last few weeks of the summer. For people working internships or UROPs, the responsibilities you had at these positions and the skills you gained are fresh in your mind. For people who did something else this summer, this is still a great time to revisit your resume.

Consider also updating your portfolio, your blog, your LinkedIn account (or similar online presence such as Monster OR GlassDoor) and an activities matrix for future applications / recommendations. I’ll write another post on how to approach an activities matrix and how this is different from a resume but still an important resource for applications and recommendations.

Doing this now will be far less painful than waiting until the Fall Career Fair on September 20th MIT Career Week is scheduled for September 16th-20th or the next time you need your resume or a recommendation for a scholarship / internship / graduate school application / conference. It’ll also give you the time to have others read over your resume to check for clarity as well as spelling and grammar. You’ll also have free up time to focus on writing cover letters during your job search.

I’ve include a checklist that should cover “resume refreshing 101” (at the bottom of this page) but I also have discussed some topics in more depth and included links to several handbooks / online resources.


Adding a current or summer position to a resume … Start by writing down everything and anything you can think of – the projects you worked on, individuals you collaborated with, resources or tools that you used. The next step will be distilling all of this information into the four or five bullet points that you will list on your resume. Action words are critical. Be strong in these statements.

Keep the paper you use for this process – while only four or five bullet points will be listed on your resume you can benefit from reviewing this sheet before your next job interview. It will help you keep the experience, all of the experience, you gained at this position fresh in your mind. If your internship requires you to make a final presentation, keep copies of these slide decks. These are also great to review before your next job interview.

As you are building up your list of all responsibilities / gained skills, this is a great time to sit down with your boss / supervisor and ask for their feedback. They can help you build a more thorough list and you can discuss the end of your project as well as the next steps. You could also use this as an opportunity to ask if they’d be willing to write you recommendation letters in the future.

Some notes on naming and keeping resume files … On my own computer, I name my resume files: YEARMONTHDAY resume.pdf. So for example, 20130812 resume.pdf would be a resume I edited today. This way, I can watch my resume change from day to day and keep all these files in one place and in chronological order.By doing this, you are building a living resume. And a living resume is a great resource as you move forward in your career.

Sometimes, I tailor my resume for a specific position or application and in that case I use the naming convention: YEARMONTHDAY resume-companyname.pdf. When I send a resume via email, I copy the file to my desktop and change the name to something like Name resume application date.pdf before sending it off to a company. For example, JSLY resume 20130812.pdf would be a resume I send out today.

I write my resumes in LaTeX to make the formatting easy and consistent and I recommend doing this if you’re familiar with LaTeX. I also recommend always send the files out as pdf’s, whether or not you’re editing your resume in LaTeX. Microsoft Word or Open Office will allow for you to save your work in both a .docx or .odf format as well as a .pdf.


Resume Refreshing 101

Under the “EDUCATION” section

  • Update your GPA
  • Update your relevant coursework – consider keeping a master list and choosing different coursework listings for different positions / applications
  • Update to include any notable class or personal projects

Under the “SKILLS” section

  • Update skills you gained during the Spring Semester (think back to Fall and IAP too if you haven’t updated your resume recently)
  • Update skills you gained during the Summer
  • If this section is getting lengthy, consider keeping a master list – then choosing subsets from this list for different positions or applications

Under the “EXPERIENCE” section

  • See above for advice on brainstorming for experience position descriptions
  • Update your experience section to reflect any positions or UROPs you held during the Spring (again, Fall and IAP if you haven’t updated your resume recently)
  • Update your experience section to reflect positions held during the Summer
  • Consider the experience you’re looking to gain from your next position. Brainstorming a list of experiences or skills you hope to gain from an position can help you narrow your job search (internship or UROP). Knowing what you want can improve your experience as you work with recruiters to find a position. They want to find someone who is a good fit for their company/lab and you want to find a company/lab that is a good fit for you.


  • Update this section to reflect any new extracurricular from the Spring / Fall / IAP semesters
  • Consider coming out to the MIT Activities Midway if you’re looking for a new extracurricular or activity. The Midway is not just for incoming freshmen! This year’s Midway is in Johnson on Friday, August 30th, from 230-430pm.
  • Consider joining an Edgerton Team / Club if you haven’t already – they’re a great way to get hands-on experience and a great way to get involved in on-campus projects during the year. Check out the different Clubs and Teams at … http://web.mit.edu/Edgerton/www/StudentGps.html


The MIT Career Center maintains an online presence in addition to an on-campus office. They have drop-in hours but you can also make an appointment at http://gecd.mit.edu/services/appointment.

During the year, their drop-in hours are held in Room 12-170 and are held from 12-3pm. On Monday, Wednesday, Friday, drop-in hours are extended until 4pm.

You can book an appointment for career advice, for a mock interview or for a resume/cover letter critique.

Online Resources

MIT Career Handbook: http://gecd.mit.edu/sites/default/files/handbook.pdf

MIT Resume Tips: http://gecd.mit.edu/jobs/find/prepare/resume, http://gecd.mit.edu/sites/default/files/Resumes%2008_11_3.pdf, Online Resume Workshops: http://gecd.mit.edu/resources/workshops

Purdue OWL resume tips: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/6/23/

MONSTER Resume Tips: http://career-advice.monster.com/resumes-cover-letters/resume-writing-tips/five-steps-for-updating-your-resume-hot-jobs/article.aspx

MIT Cover Letter Tips: http://gecd.mit.edu/jobs/find/prepare/cover_letter



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