University of Michigan - Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute


Planning Your “Resume” from the First Day of College

By Candy Liu, Co-corporation & Career Guidance Counselor

As a career guidance officer at the JI, I have the chance to communicate with students of all classes, from the naive, curious freshmen to the seasoned, mature seniors. In the upcoming graduation season, however, not all students know clearly about their future. They may have various concerns: “It seems that I did nothing during the four years, and I have nothing to write on my resume”; “I took part in many social activities, but my GPA dropped. What should I do if my GPA is not high enough?”; “There are so many companies and positions. Which should I choose to send my resume?”; “Among working, preparing for graduate entrance exam and going abroad for study, which will be my best choice? Since most classmates will go abroad, should I follow them, too?” All the confusion facing the seniors are usually related to their personal career planning when they first entered the university. If they ignore this, they will possibly get caught in a circle of being “Busy in the first year, idle in the second year, worried in the third year, and confused in the last year.” Therefore, students should plan their “resumes” in their minds from the first day they enter the university. Here, the word “resume” does not refer to the physical document used for job hunting. Each basic element of a resume, however, can be regarded as a student’s goal to fulfill during the four-year university life, such as GPA, internship experience, campus activities, research project experience, honors and awards, English language abilities, and computer skills. “Which element should be my focus?” It depends on personal situations. For the students who prepare to go abroad for graduate programs, although GPA is important, they cannot be oblivious of extracurricular activities; for those who choose to start working after graduation, they may take part in various activities to gain social experience. On the other hand, too many activities may drag down their GPAs. No matter how much experience they have, the resume can only hold one-page worth of information. Therefore, to achieve an optimal balance among these elements becomes crucial. During the university, a student should complete at least three “Ones” for personal career planning: One consultation/ test, one career interview, and one internship/ research project.

One consultation/test: You can talk to the teachers who are responsible for career, study abroad, and research. They will help you clarify your career goals and steps to take. In addition, the Career Development Centre of SJTU provides various online resources for students (see career navigation at For example, the Langtu Assessment in Career Planning as well as the CareerSky Career Planning Systems will recommend the suitable job positions based on SJTU students’ general requirements as well as their own interest. Another useful website is the Vault Career Library which offers a vast collection of industry guides, company profiles, and employer information.

One career interview: Having learned your interest, you need to have a career interview with the person in the relevant field in order to grasp the first-hand information. You can talk with HRs and engineers invited to give lectures at the university, alumni who have graduated, or your professors. Please politely convey your intent and then make an appointment with them. The interview may cover a wide variety of questions, to name just a few: “Why did you choose this job?”; “What do you like or dislike about your job?”; “How can I enter this field?”; “What are the career paths in this field?”

One internship/research project: After you learn more about the field and your career goal, utilize the winter vacation and the spring semester for internship and project. If you aim to go abroad you should focus on your GPA and research experience. There are SJTU’s Participation in Research Program (PRP), Innovative Participation Program (IPP) for undergraduates and professors’ research projects, which are good choices for you to develop your research interests. Moreover, you can find information on lectures and seminars at SJTU’s Undergraduate Education Office website ( If you choose to work, internship and social activity opportunities are essential. The university job information site ( and a public job site for current seniors ( will be necessary for you to browse. Generally, you should plan and send your resume one and a half months earlier before you begin internship. Begin planning your “resume” from the first day of college and you will hand in an impressive resume upon graduation.