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CV help?

  1. Jun 11, 2014 #1
    I've been looking at tips and articles about how to create a successful CV for applying to graduate school in the US, but I'm getting confusing results about certain things. I plan on applying to Bioengineering/Materials Science and Engineering programs. My undergraduate degree is in Physics at a small liberal arts institution.

    Am I to include basic descriptions for what undergraduate research I've done? What about for TAing and tutoring? Should I include a short description of my responsibilities? I looked at some that have descriptions and some that only have titles. I don't have any publications.

    For extracurriculars and leadership, I have had leadership positions in SPS, so I was definitely going to include that, but I'm also captain of the rugby team. Is that something that I should include, even though it's not related to my academics? It shows leadership, but I'm also afraid graduate programs won't take me seriously if I put it on there...

    Are descriptions (for everything mentioned above, plus awards, etc.) a good or bad thing on a CV?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2014 #2
    Also, is an objective necessary at the top? I feel like that should be what my personal statement is about...
  4. Jun 12, 2014 #3
    For context: I'm an undergraduate as well. A good way to get a decent CV is to find a sample (Google/Bing would be useful here, or ask a professor) then start basing yours from that. The Owl at Purdue website has some information regarding writing CVs as well.

    As far as descriptions, it depends on what the titles you have written. For instance, I have long titles to talks and such so that the overall topic may be taken from the title. If you participated in a competition, you may wish to have your rank in a bullet underneath the titles and date.

    Objectives to some people are good, but can be considered tacky by other people. Honestly, I've received conflicting advice on the matter. For what it's worth, I don't have an objective on mine.

    There are some pretty decent templates online if you are a LaTeX user. Part of a good CV is a consistent format. LaTeX is actually much easier in this regard than say Word (what if you look at it through different versions of Word, someone has a different program like LibraOffice, etc). If your school has a writing/career center (or a prof. who does technical writing) you could request that they read over your CV for you.
  5. Jun 12, 2014 #4
    Yeah. I've been looking at examples online, and that's actually how I got confused. I couldn't find any made by undergraduates in science/engineering specifically. I found plenty for people with PhDs who have lots of publications and such. I'm just trying to make the best CV possible for my grad school applications.

    Your comment on descriptions makes sense. I plan on having someone look over it once it looks relatively decent. Ha
  6. Jun 12, 2014 #5


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    Make sure you read the instructions for each school carefully. Some, for example, may want things in a very specific format. Some may not even want a CV, but simply to have you fill out a template.

    In general, yes. This is quite common. You can include details of your own spific contributions to the project(s) as well.

    It's good to include details such as the course level and material covered and your specific duties. These can be cut down or out completely if you have to conserve space, though. If you were the TA for a first year physics course, most people in the field will have an understanding of what that would have involved.

    Then don't worry about it. While they're good to have, they're not critical. Remember also, things like conference abstracts can count in this respect.

    The rugby is not a plus or a minus in my opinion, but it does help to present a complete picture of who you are as a person. It can be one of the first things to cut out if you need the room, but sometimes a little detail like this can be helpful. Keep in mind thought that leadership is best demonstrated through documented accomplishments rather than offices held.

    You don't want too many details, but some description is allowable and even sometimes necessary simply to convey the magnitude of an accomplishment. Stating that you received XYZ Scholarship is one thing. But if you were selected out of 4000 applicants based on evaluation of academic merit, and that the scholarship was valued at $10k per year for four years, that's quite another.
  7. Jun 12, 2014 #6
    Thank you! I feel better about my CV now.
  8. Jun 28, 2014 #7
    Another question:

    I did a poster and oral presentation at my REU last summer and will be presenting at an undergraduate conference at the end of this summer, so not presentations at national conferences, and neither are of published work. And I also did a presentation for my department. Can I still put these on my CV?
  9. Jul 29, 2014 #8
    I'm still looking for input about this. Also, if I add a relevant coursework section, would I just include all the courses I've taken in addition to the ones required by my physics undergraduate curriculum? (Organic Chemistry, Biophysical Chemistry, etc.)
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