As a high school student, you might not think a resume is important, but if you’re aiming for a summer internship or part-time job, you’ll definitely need one. Writing your resume is also a great way to prepare for summer programs or college applications because it can help you keep track of what you have accomplished throughout your high school career. In fact, the Common App Activities List is an abbreviated version of a resume, so your resume will help you fill this out more quickly. Some colleges also accept resumes as an additional document, which can help you stand out.
Whether it’s for an employer or admissions officer, a resume is used to introduce you, your experiences, and your skills. As a high school student, you might find yourself lacking in these areas but don’t worry, you’ll have plenty to write. Let’s start from the beginning.
List Your Activities
When writing your first resume, it’s quite difficult to remember everything that you have done and then determine what’s important enough to put into the resume. That is why listing out all of your activities is a necessary first step. The categories in this initial outline should be as follows:
- Academics: This includes your school, GPA, scores for standardized tests, academic programs, etc.
- Extracurriculars: Any club, organization, employment opportunity, and activity you’ve spent time doing outside of school. It can also include hobbies.
- Honors and Awards: Either academic, extracurricular, or community-based honors. This includes honor roll, competitions, and awards for leadership.
- Personal: Any skills or achievements that don’t fit into the above categories, such as the languages you speak.
After creating your outline, ask someone to take a look at it. They can be a parent, teacher, coach, or friend who knows you well and is aware of how you spend your time. It helps if they are experienced in writing resumes. Discuss what you wrote down in your list and ask if there is anything irrelevant or distracting that you should take out. Then, ask if there is anything important that you’ve missed. After you have a complete list that represents your skills and achievements, it’s time to write the first draft of your resume!
Note: If you’re having trouble with your resume outline or would like to use a premade template for your resume draft, click here to download one from our website.
Name and Contact information
At the top of your resume, your name should be typed in a large font, so it’s the first thing readers notice. Important contact information should include your location, phone number, and a professional email address. Depending on what you’re writing the resume for, you might also leave your website, LinkedIn profile, Behance portfolio, or the like.
Located in New York City.
Phone: +1 (555)-555-555 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As you’re in high school, you’ll only list your high school(s) here. Include your GPA only if it’s higher than a 3.5 so that employers don’t use it to discount you. Add any educational certifications such as IGCSEs, IB, or AP, as well as courses and coursework relevant to what you’re applying for. Educational awards should also be written here.
New York City Prep – Class of 2020 (2016-present)
- 4.3 GPA (weighted)
- Cum Laude Society admittee: awarded to the top 10% of the class
- Enrolled in Cornell University’s online Gifted and Talented Programs for physics and programming in C. GPA 3.85/4.00
Before fleshing out each of your experiences, make sure you list them in chronological order with the most recent being at the top. Then, for each experience, you should include your role, the name of the organization/corporation, the duration of your experience, and notable accomplishments while you were working in that position. This last point is crucial to your resume because it shows how you have contributed meaningfully to a job or organization. If you lack official work experience, you can also include club positions or sports teams in this section.
Emphasize your contribution by being specific. Provide quantifiable evidence of your impact or give examples of unquantifiable achievements. For example, “doubled readership” is a quantifiable achievement while this point describes how a student’s work specifically helped their school community: “Wrote stories investigating school cafeteria policy, which prompted staggering meal times and halved the amount of time spent in lines.” If you’re struggling to think of noteworthy contributions you made, you can also include key learnings, such as important skills you cultivated on the job. For example, “developed quick techniques to de-escalate conflict while babysitting toddlers.”
Be specific with your experience but also be concise. The person reading your resume won’t have more than a few minutes to understand your background. If your bullet point exceeds two lines, make sure every single word counts. Start your bullet points with strong action verbs and use the appropriate tense for each experience.
Rural Youth Robotics Program, Founder (2020 – present)
Robotics program for underprivileged kids
- Founded, launched and now manage the program for two classes of children in Brooklyn. First class was oversubscribed after only one week forcing us to create a second and perhaps third class section.
- Developed partnerships with City People Foundation and New York University for financial and non-financial support. Program sponsored and incubated by the City People Foundation.
- Teach robotics to two classes of students ages 11-14 & fundraising to expand next year
NYU Robotics Laboratory, Member (2019 – present)
Research laboratory of the Department of Electrical Engineering at New York University
- Only high school student on the Internationally ranked NYU Robotic Football team. Develop robots to compete in international Robotic Football tournaments.
- Responsible for Image processing and Information delivery of the football robot
- Keep an active journal of inventions since I was 12 years old: over 50 inventions
- Awarded one patent (10554914) on a robotic fishing rod
- My robotic fishing rod invention won gold medals in both the France and the Macedonian International Salon of Inventions and New Technologies Expo
- 10 years experience playing and practicing violin
- Performed in David H Koch Theater, Carnegie Hall and Paul Recital Hall (Juilliard)
Awards & Hobbies
If you have sufficient space in your document and hobbies relevant to the position you’re applying for, you can include them here. Note that this is not a necessary section! Non-academic awards should also be included here. For any awards or competitions you’ve won, indicate the level of the award (city, regional, national, international, etc.) to demonstrate how challenging this achievement was.
- 1st place in Manhattan Music Competition (Strings) (2018)
- 2nd place in New York International Artists Violin Competition (2018)
Revision & Final Tips
After creating the first draft of your resume, go back to your resume reviewer and ask them for feedback. Start with how relevant the content of your resume is. If it’s your first time writing a resume, you’re likely to include too many experiences. Ask your reviewer if any activities seem random or irrelevant. Some examples to leave out are the piano competition you won 10 years ago or the summer camps you attended in middle school.
After revising the structure of your resume, go through each description of your activities with your reviewer. Ask them how you can shorten each item so that your descriptions are both concise and compelling. If your descriptions are too long, you risk losing the reader.
Employers go through hundreds of resumes for each opening so you want your resume to be easy to read. This guideline also means that the final resume you submit to any employer, admissions office, or organization should only be one page long. We recommend that high school students adhere to this rule, especially because you don’t have that many professional experiences to include as a student. As you develop your career later on in life, your resume will expand, but this isn’t something you need to worry about now.
Finally, always remember to proofread! You don’t want to send out a professional document only to realize you have misspelled a word or a company name. If you’re worried about missing something (especially if this is your first resume), ask your reviewer to look it over for grammar.
After you write your first resume, remember to go back and update it periodically, especially after completing another internship, volunteer experience, or leadership position. Don’t wait until the next moment you’re applying for an opportunity to update it, or else these experiences won’t be fresh in your mind. Over time, this process will become easier. Writing a stellar resume is a difficult skill to master, but it’s one that (literally) pays off!
You can’t write a stellar resume without outstanding experiences. If you (or your child) are struggling to find meaningful and impactful projects to put on your resume, talk to us about how our Spike Coaching Program can do just that. Also, don’t forget to download a handy resume template from our Downloads page.