Category Archives: Job Hunting

Think you haven’t achieved anything? 62 real-life achievement statements for undergraduate resumes


Remember how I gave you a checklist of ways to job search over winter break without networking? (If not, read it here.) Step one is to add this semester’s classes and accomplishments to your resume. Does that stop you cold, thinking, “I’ve done stuff, but it was all for clubs and class… what do I do?”

Never fear! I’ve collected 62 inspiring real-life accomplishments, all from the in-class or on-campus experience of undergrads like you.

Did you do marketing for an organization, volunteer in a school or write a research paper? If the answer is yes (and I bet it is), the examples below will show you how to help an employer see value in your experience, even if was unpaid.

And if you’re wondering why I led with student publications, it’s because I was president and creative director of a monthly mag at UNC-Chapel Hill. And yes, that experience is still on my resume AND employers always ask about it! So stop worrying that classwork and extracurriculars don’t count; they do.

Student Publications

  1. Increased recognition of tri-weekly newspaper and helped qualify the 2007-2008 version as a Pacemaker Finalist
  2. Assigned and copyedited articles for daily publication; pitched story ideas and managed over 50 writers.
  3. Redesigned the magazine for the first time in three years while delegating assignments to 10 designers and editing their layouts each month
  4. Advised photographers working on photo stories and essays from conception to publication
  5. Create blog posts on more time-sensitive issues, like product recommendations for an unexpectedly cold week
  6. Oversaw a desk of 30 writers for daily university newspaper with a readership of 38,000
  7. Hired new photographers and supervised 60-person photo staff
  8. Assisted with planning story topics, such as alumni profiles and campus events, for a monthly magazine with a distribution of approximately 5,000

Greek Life

  1. Enforce and uphold chapter bylaws through clear communication of standards, increasing member participation by 40%
  2. Launched, wrote and distributed weekly Greek Newsletter to more than 2,500 Greek members, advisors and commissioners
  3. Designed and presented Greek End of the Year Report to members, advisors, commissioners and University officials
  4. Organize five to seven social events a week to facilitate bonding for 140+ brothers
  5. Educated and served as mentor for 45 new ADPI members

School Volunteer / Tutor

  1. Worked with three at-risk third graders twice a week to improve math and reading skills
  2. Improved reading skills of kindergartners and first graders by animatedly reading books aloud and actively encouraging their participation in the process
  3. Committed 3 hours weekly for tutoring and mentoring students in 9-12th grade during after school hours.
  4. Instructed 24 second-grade students in an urban school district with multiple learning styles
  5. Disciplined and mentored an eight year old girl twice a week for 4 hours each day
  6. Tutored and encouraged low-income middle school students in various courses
  7. Provided a safe and motivating after school environment for 10 to 12 kids
  8. Function as a student assistant in a kindergarten classroom while collaborating intently with the teacher and sometimes parents to develop the students’ reading, writing, and mathematical comprehension skills.

Student Government

  1. Lead the Student Government Association with the Executive Board; personally revised constitution, formed attendance policy, and oversaw duties of senators and cabinet/ staff members.
  2. Managed the annual programming budget of the campus using excel; amount roughly $125,000
  3. Evaluated project proposals including the implementation of food waste composting, solar water heating for the sports and fitness facilities, and the conversion of 20% of the college’s grounds to native prairie grass.
  4. Worked with 30 students to accelerate support and spirit of XXX athletics

Admissions Ambassador

  1. I am one of an inaugural four-person team hired to initiate projects with goals of increasing admitted student yield rate, information publicity to transfer students, number of campus visits, and more.
  2. Applied for and was selected out of 150 Albright students to represent the student body as an Admissions Ambassador

Resident Advisor

  1. Helped organize annual Housing Fair & increased attendance from the prior, record-breaking year through a strategic marketing plan and personal advocacy.
  2. Develop relationships with 40 residents to meet their academic, emotional, and social needs
  3. Manage 200 residents and quickly address concerns such as room conflicts, school policy violations, and class scheduling issues.
  4. Present 12 programs per semester for the residence halls, including social programs, diversity programs, community partnership programs, academic environment programs, and individual development programs.


  1. Worked on a microfinance project with students from the University of Liberia by compiling a 20-page research report with information focused on successes/failures of microfinance practices in Haiti
  2. Collaborated with a team of five students to conduct original research and create a comprehensive media relations plan based on an expert positioning strategy. The team presented the plan to a panel of executives and students.

Student Organization Leadership

  1. Acquired Registered Student Organization recognition by University
  2. Attained 501(c)(3) status and sponsorship with Princeton Review
  3. Elected by 90 dues-paying member peers to lead student-run PR firm for the 2011-12 school year
  4. Oversee a student club that serves as an “umbrella” organization of all multicultural student clubs on campus and maintain a membership roster of 100 members or more
  5. Secured two new chapter professional advisors and utilized all professional advisors by setting up a mentorship program between advisors and executive board members
  6. Co-founded student group, which strives to raise awareness of the inherent inequality in the current educational system and to correct this inequality through the creation of opportunities currently unavailable to disadvantaged high school students.
  7. Managed a 501(c)3 non-profit, an 80-person staff and an $18,000 budget
  8. Assembled a team of 30 to fill positions in finance, public and internal relations, and development

Student Organization Membership Acquisition

  1. Increased membership by more than 500 percent during two semesters
  2. Secured a 20 percent increase in firm membership, with more than 200 members, for 2011-2012 school year
  3. Spearheaded the PRSSA Student-run Firm National Affiliation application and received accreditation in February 2011
  4. Recruited over 100 members to participate and contribute to the sustainability of the group
  5. Produced the chapter’s quarterly newsletter by recruiting writers, editors and photographers, generating and assigning story ideas, designing the layout and distributing it to chapter members, journalism students and professionals

 Student Organization Marketing / Event Planning

  1. Created and organized a petition to have gluten-free foods available on campus
  2. Produced and edited articles for chapter’s newsletter and blog, sent to all PRSSA students and faculty in 2008-2010
  3. Designed promotional tools, such as fliers and t-shirts, for the 2009 male beauty pageant Mr. Ohio University
  4. Coordinated all marketing and communications efforts for one of the largest homecoming celebrations in the nation.
  5. Planned several events to raise funds and create buzz about Penn State Homecoming. Events included a 5k and Homecoming Night with the local minor league baseball team.
  6. Worked closely with and acquired sponsorship from XXX Gluten-Free Foods
  7. Secured a 78 percent increase in client base compared to previous year and a 50 percent increase in firm membership for 2010-2011 school year as vice president of administration
  8. Organize campus events including information sessions and food sampling
  9. Scheduled over 35 diverse visiting professionals to speak at fall, winter and spring quarter meetings
  10. Manage 45 on campus events, including Springfest, the annual week-long homecoming in the spring semester, which includes co-sponsoring with 10-15 other clubs and organizations, three events daily, 15 events in the week, culminating in the campus-wide comedian show with attendance of up to 2,500.

 Student Organization Fundraising

  1. Collaborated with volunteers and Executive Director to increase fundraising from $3,000 in 2006 to over $50,000 in 2008
  2. Implemented more than 10 fundraising projects as member of the chapter’s finance committee in 2009

Honors and Awards

  1. Selected for academic and professional performance to represent the School of Journalism at various times and for various functions throughout the academic year
  2. Earned Outstanding Freshman & Sophomore awards in ’08-’09 & ’09-’10 school years for involvement in the chapter
  3. Selected as one of 10 students to write and perform a play about diversity to the incoming freshman class
  4. Served on the highly selective Residential Life staff
  5. Elected by peers to be the PR manager for the Sailing Team

9 ways to jumpstart your job search over winter break WITHOUT networking

kai is sad because santa didn't give her presents

You probably know the holidays are a great time to network. I’ve even written about why. But I also know what you’ve just been through. A week of all-nighters, cramming for exams and eking out term papers. The last thing you probably want to do is head home and start setting up informational interviews.

So, instead, here are nine easy (read: online) things you can do to avoid underachiever’s guilt and get your parents off your back. Happy holidays from me to you 😉

  1. Add this semester’s classes and accomplishments to your resume.
  2. While you’re at it, update LinkedIn.
  3. Write down one great story from the semester that you could use in an interview.
  4. Subscribe to five career-relevant blogs.
  5. Upload your best assignments to SlideShare or Scribd.
  6. Find 10 career-relevant people to follow on Twitter.
  7. Not on Twitter? Get on Twitter.
  8. Start a gratitude journal.
  9. Identify three people to ask for informational interviews next semester. (Hey, I didn’t say networking wasn’t part of the plan; I just said you don’t have to do it now.)
Image credit: sandwichgirl

QUIZ: Are you afraid to ship?

Source: via Kristin on Pinterest

Sounds good, doesn’t it? And if you’re one of those people who’s constantly having “open mouth, insert foot” moments, you need this advice.

But if you’re one of those people* who uses those words of wisdom as an excuse to wait just a while longer for the perfect idea, stay quiet until you know just the right thing to say, or tirelessly revise projects that don’t really need it… STOP. And just ship something.

*Full disclosure: I’m one, too.

Odds are, you know which camp you’re in. But in case you’re not sure, here’s a quiz. If any of these behaviors sound remotely like you, start shipping a little more often and thinking a little less.

You’re a job seeker with a fear of shipping if you have:

  • Agonized (for more than 30 seconds) whether “best regards” or simply “best” is more appropriate
  • Rewritten the third bullet point of the fifth job description on your resume five times, and you’re debating a sixth round
  • Spent an hour fussing with an information interview request only to give up because you can’t get it quite perfect, and you’re sure you’ll sound like an idiot
  • Gone into interviews so over-prepared that you couldn’t deviate from your script enough to be effective

If that sounds like you, I can help. As a recovering perfectionist, I understand where you are and what’s holding you back. Just get in touch, and we can put together a plan to have you shipping like a pro in no time.

The crazy-easy way to start a gratitude journal – and some ideas on what to say

After talking about the benefits of gratitude journals last week, I promised I’d share my favorite online gratitude journal. Soooo, drumroll please:

Why I love it

  1. It is dead simple. It’s so simple, I don’t have to remember to use it. Happy Rambles sends me an email with the subject line, “What are you grateful for today?” I just reply with my answer, and away it goes, stored in my private account on their site.
  2. It’s a blast from the past. In addition to asking me what I’m grateful for, the email also includes a past entry and asks, “How good was this?”
  3. It’s consistent. Every night at 8 p.m., I know that little email will show up in my box, and it makes me take just a few minutes and think about the good things in my day.

How it works for me

You can reply in most any form — paragraphs, bullets, photos, even incoherent sentences if that’s your thing. It’s easier and less daunting for me to write three things in a simple numbered list, so that’s what I do. It usually takes anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes.

It’s okay to focus on the small things

When I started out, I thought I might run out of things to say; being grateful for friends and family every night would get boring in a hurry.

But I quickly figured out that it’s more fun to focus on the small random things that make you smile or laugh. Here are just a few examples of quirky little things from my journal:

  • The yard guy who stops to pick up wind-blown trashcans
  • Fall moon on a periwinkle backdrop
  • Frozen strawberries
  • Getting a compliment on my new sweater
  • Negotiating with Time Warner
  • New sidewalk from my office to Rite Aid
  • Fresh, delicious, yummy-smelling bagels
  • New laptop battery

Bonus idea for job seekers

Use your gratitude journal as a way to record progress in your search. Make it a goal to have one positive piece of job-search news to report each night. It doesn’t have to be big. Maybe you found a new company to research, made a new contact, had a great conversation, figured out a new way to frame your skills, or got a target company to retweet something you said.

So, what are you waiting for? Pop over to Happy Rambles and get your own journal!

In honor of Thanksgiving: Benefits of a gratitude journal for job seekers


What better time than Thanksgiving Eve to talk about gratitude journals? If you’re here, some of you might be thinking, “Um, I don’t have a job, and you want me to say thank you?”

That’s really the point. When you’re job searching, it’s easy to focus on the negative things — the resume you sent that didn’t get a response, the interview question you flubbed, the networking meeting you couldn’t get. A gratitude journal forces you to focus on the wins, however big or small, related or unrelated to your job search.

BTW, a gratitude journal can be as simple or complex as you want. It can be on paper or online. It can be in paragraphs or in bullet points.  Next week, I’ll show you my favorite online gratitude journal. It’s super easy, and it’s free.

Mmk, so, specifically, what are the benefits?

People who keep gratitude journals…

  1. Are more likely to make progress toward goals.
  2. Sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed.
  3. Are less stressed out by everyday hassles.
  4. Do more exercise.
  5. Are more optimistic about their future.

Are you convinced yet? You’ll have more energy to put into your job search, you won’t be as discouraged by little things that go wrong, and you’ll feel more confident about your chances of success. It’s a win-win-win.

So let’s get the ball rolling. Leave a comment with something you’re grateful for, career related or otherwise.

I’ll start — it’s November 23, and it’s almost 70 degrees outside. And I’m grateful that of everything you could be doing, reading and thinking, you’re spending some time here. Thanks, it means a lot.

So the holidays are good for networking. Now what?

Let me state the obvious: The holidays are coming. You’ve probably realized or read that the holidays are the perfect time to network.

And they are!

You have lots of down time to talk to people who 1) care about you 2) are older than you and 3) you don’t see very often. Perfect networking opportunity.

Until you get asked that super-tough question, “How can I help?”

How many of you have been in that situation? I have. How many of you have stumbled and said, “Uh, well, I don’t know right now, but I’ll let you know!” I have. Can you say awkward/missed opportunity?

There are (clearly) better ways to respond, and here are five of my go-to answers. All of them start with some variation of, “Oh, that’s so nice of you to ask! You know…”

  1. I would love for you to look over my resume. Could I email it to you for feedback?
  2. I’m looking to speak with people in xxxx industry (or function). Do you know of anyone I should talk with? Would you mind introducing me?
  3. I’m trying to translate my (school/work/internship) experience to my resume. What do you think a hiring manager would find most valuable about that experience?
  4. I’d love to hear any networking tips you have. Do you belong to any associations or groups that are especially helpful?
  5. The toughest interview question I’ve encountered is (insert it here). How would you answer that?

You’ll choose your response depending on how you think the person can be most helpful. However you respond, thank them, explain your need, then — and this is key — toss it back to them with a question.

And of course, at the end of the conversation, you can always say, “I’m looking for a (marketing, IT, name-your-ideal-job). Would you keep your ears and eyes open for me?”

What do you tell people who ask how they can help?

3 ways job seekers are like Halloween candy

I heard two couples have virtually the same conversation on Target’s Halloween aisle this weekend. It went something like this:

Couple enters aisle full of candy.
Person 1: Sighs heavily
Person 2: How do we choose???
Person 1: Silence

And then it hits me. Job seekers (especially entry-level job seekers) are like Halloween candy. Let’s explore.

1. You have a lot of competition. There are two aisles stacked floor to ceiling with sugary goodness, but there’s only so much space in your Halloween bowl. Employers see the same thing. There are about four job seekers for every job opening, but you’ve probably heard stories of employers receiving hundreds of resumes for a single position.

2. You start to look alike. Once you’ve weeded out the obvious low quality/bad fits (ehm, Palmer’s chocolate), you’re left with similarly strong competitors. Reese’s, Hershey’s and Almond Joy vs. Milky Way, Snickers and Twix. It’s really hard to go wrong. Likewise, you’re not the only candidate who has a great GPA and stellar internships.

3. You’re shoved in with the Christmas decorations. Come mid-October, the Halloween stuff is scrunched alongside Rudolph and sparkling ornaments. That’s because stores have competing priorities. So do the companies where you’ve applied. That job may be the center of your universe, but it’s only one piece of theirs. Just keep that in mind if the process drags on, or if it takes them a while to get back to you. They’ve been distracted by the penguin yard ornament.