Building your CV for Summer Internships
The first real test and probably the most challenging part of your MBA life will hit you in the first 3 months. It can get really intimidating but being confident and calm is the key. Your CV is the single most important document in the entire process and here are a few tips to build a strong CV. It’s important to note that there is only a little you can do now, you will be judged by your past and there is nothing you can do about that.
Make an extensive list: Before you start making your CV make a complete list of every significant even in your personal, academic or professional life. Right from the poem recitation of class two to the competition in MBA. This list should be as comprehensive as possible (5 or 10 pages) and would help you not just in your CV but company specific forms. Keep updating your master list and look for answers to all HR questions there.
Look for differentiators: Each individual is unique and different in his own respect. It is imperative to highlight your individual strength. If you were a gymnast, highlight that because it is what differentiates you. Look for these unique factors if you haven’t already found one. Think long and hard, you’ll find something.
Relevant projects: Take up projects that are relevant to your field of interest. If you are an IT engineer interested in marketing then your CV must show your passion for marketing. Take up the right projects (not just anything that comes up) and do well in them. Ask your project mentors to give you letter of recommendation. If you succeed in showing your passion for the job and your ability to fulfil it – you have nailed it!!
Right PORs: There are many positions of responsibility up for grabs in b-schools but not all maybe relevant for you. You must have a story that connects. Your graduation, your job, your reason for MBA, everything you did in your MBA and why you want a particular summers must all connect and have a smooth flow. So the POR must fit in the bigger picture.
Leadership: It’s important to show your leadership skills through your CV. It should reflect your capabilities in managing people. Now, everyone will have a point in their CV about some position of responsibility so you need to think this through and be relevant. If there’s nothing professional be personal.
Initiative: Much more important than leadership is the ability to be self-motivated. Always have something on your CV to show the initiative you took to bring a change. Starting something new is well respected.
Extra-curricular: Some domains might not put much importance on it but mostly it is required. If you were in your cricket team in class fifth, please don’t put it. If you are weak in this section then take initiatives and open up to participate in such events in college and show it.
Personal interests: It is helpful to have a very small section to describe you as a person. Your hobby, your likes or your dislikes. If you write a blog or read a lot of manga, make sure you have something like this on your CV. This sets you apart and is your safest corner if you get asked in the interview. If possible, put it in the last because that is where the eye stops. The top and the bottom part of the page are most important.
Look outside: If you stick to what your college offers you then you are just the same as everybody else. Look for opportunities outside, where there might be less competition but high relevance. Use your contacts, talk to start-ups, browse LinkedIn or search the internet to find a relevant project or course or recommendation. Basically anything that becomes a CV point.
Framing: Simple things can be put differently to make them look much more impressive. Use your master list to pick points and frame it to fit your overall story that connects your past to your future. Some people are really good at it, take their help.
PS: At the end of the day nothing from this might mater because all that got looked at was that box at the top of your CV and there’s nothing you can do to change that (well legally!!) But this is your best bet. At the end of the day it is just a piece of paper and it is just an internship. This doesn’t decide your capabilities as a person.
Ishan Arora is a student from IIFT who has had a very regular life- an engineer, an IT professional and now an MBA student. He is very passionate about writing and writes on a personal blog A Vent in the Delirium. He is also in love with music and plays on internet radio in his college.
You can Follow me on InsideIIM at Ishan@insideiim.com