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On June 2012, two of my friends (let's say john and smith) and I worked full time on building a mobile application from scratch. Long story short, john left the team in July, and smith and I did not get another developer to replace john's role. Smith and I agreed to continue working toward the launching date (planned September, 2012). However, we weren't able to launch the project and had to postpone project launching indefinitely. Smith and I worked on this project full time for 13 weeks total.

Smith and I are claiming 50% each for the rights of project we have worked on, and we still have not made any progress since last summer as we had to attend university classes full time.

This summer, I am thinking about applying for summer internship as a mobile application developer. How should I explain this experience in my resume? Is it helpful/harmful to include such experience?

Few points here:

  1. I worked on building a mobile application last summer for 13 weeks; it has not yet been launched (indefinitely postponed).
  2. I would only like to share technical details about the project (e.g. programming languages, project management, tools we used) with my employer.
  3. I would not like to share resources about the project (e.g. logo, app name, objective of the app) with my employer.
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This question came from our site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development.

5 Answers 5

List it as a side-project, disclosing only what you have done and the target industry of the app.

Don't say what it does, don't say the name, don't say whether it was commercial or not. Be prepared to have to disclose more information in an interview, or to reject questions politely.

Basically, do the same as what you'd do if you were to list a project protected by a rather strict NDA. And keep in mind that it technically isn't "employment", so be upfront about that (hence the listing as "side-project").

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The point of a resume is to get you an interview. To do that you should only list those items that apply to the position you are applying for and that you want to talk about during an interview.

Personally I do not think I would list this project. It points out that you failed to work with a team to meet a release date. It is quite possible that this should not be seen as a negative but the truth is business managers look for a record of success. This does not help you build that record. In addition it appears that there was difficulty with the team and that also looks bad. It happened during your time at the University so you will not be expected to show work history so there should be no problem with the gap that might appear if it happened post graduation.

If you talk about the project during interviews emphasize what you learned from the project, do not bad mouth your team members in any way, and be prepared to talk about how you would tackle the problem differently. If you can not do that then I would refrain from speaking about it during interviews as well.

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I agree with @Chad's starting sentence, but I think the answer is more nuanced than his assessment.

Your resume is nothing more than an advertisement of your skills and qualifications, intended to land interviews. As Chad says, you will want to customize your resume for each job application. Some positions—particularly corporate ones—may not appreciate the experience gained through a failed entrepreneurial venture. Others—particularly small businesses—will understand that you've gained invaluable leadership training and management skills, and that your experience has given you an understanding of cash flows, marketing, personnel management, and handling stress.

To that point, if you think that the person reading your resume will appreciate such experience, definitely list it. When doing so, list your intended product and your responsibilities. Do note that anything on your resume is fair game for questions during the interview, so you'll need to be ready to provide good answers to questions such as, "why did the venture fail?" and "what role did you have in the failure of the venture?" If you can think of good answers to questions of that nature, feel free to list it. Good luck!

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Given your few points here, I would not list this project at all.

Take a look at it from an interviewer's perspective. How would you trust someone genuinely did what he claims he did, but does not want to back up his/her claims with additional details ?

What if you were to list this as a not-launched project (and if you are not in the state of California) and the future mobile app employer actually employs you and makes you sign the standard agreement contracts (which basically means any work you do when employed is the employers IP) ? How do you prove your IP owner ship if someday you finally launch this app. This, IMHO, just leads to a lot of unnecessary questions and a difficult position to be in.

If I were you, I would mention the skills on the resume and in the interview mention developing a mobile app(s), out of interest.

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I wouldn't include this, you risk coming across as too committed to your own interests. It's good to have side projects but being defensive about the details makes you sound like you're committed to doing your own thing over and above, say, projects at work.

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Depends, if he was employed at the same time, then "side-project" may indeed give a wrong idea. It's all about how he presents it though. Doesn't need to say he was going at it 80hours a week or anything. If he wasn't employed at the time, then that's fine, that sounds like a valuable sabbathical to me. –  haylem May 24 '13 at 9:17

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