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I'm currently applying for summer coop work-term jobs. The school recruiter told me to include a section called "Academic Projects" or simply "Projects" on my resume. However, I didn't do any real programming projects so far from my previous semester, so I'm not sure I have anything to put here.

My school recruiter also told me that I can include my assignments. Unfortunately, the assignments I did so far seems pretty useless and not sure if it will do more harm than good. e.g: A custom-made java bufferedReader that read each line of a text file (Skipping comments)

I do have a programming blog, that is not very active, that I used to post some code snippets, technology news and algorithm.

  • Is it a good idea to mention my blog on my resume?
  • How can I represent academic projects on my resume and still look professional. if the projects were tiny?
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Hi user, welcome to the Workplace SE. I made an edit to your question to make it a bit more constructive and focus on points that can be answered with facts, references, or specific expertise. If my edits change the meaning of your question, please feel free to edit further to focus on specific questions. Hope this helps! –  jmort253 Jan 22 '13 at 5:35
    
Thanks for the editing, I like it –  user79124 Jan 22 '13 at 13:51
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2 Answers

As someone who's hired a few interns, I like the idea - having a place I could quickly brief myself on a potential interns projects would be a real win for me, and not something I see on most college resumes - so kudos to the recruiter at your school for some useful advice!

I'll contradict the recruiter slightly with the thought that I certainly don't want to see any minor homework projects that are so small you can't really talk about them. My metric would be:

  • absolutely highlight any year long or half year long work (ie, a project that transcended the semester) - typically these are either self-motivated, or part of a graduation requirement
  • hit 1-2 projects if they are whole semester/term projects
  • skip anything half a term or less in scope

If you have 1-3 bullets in this section, you're doing great. The idea here is to give the person you'll be speaking to enough meat to ask a decent question. If there's not enough to the project to warrant talking about it, then skip it. The things I like to see most are projects that involved:

  • work so big you weren't quite sure how to break it down at first
  • examples of team work where you can talk a bit about group dynamics
  • work so big that you had some major hurdles part way through and had to overcome some interesting obstacles
  • if you managed to prove/disprove something surprising or brand new - even better

That's the kind of thing I'll probably ask about as we do an interview, so having a quick reference to the project, it's length, it's goal, and maybe 1-2 key techologies or topics involved in it, is the most useful, since I can quickly learn the topics if they are new to me.

What if I don't have any?

Then skip it. Highlight coursework, prior experience and job history.

At least when I went to school, many sophomores hadn't gotten there yet. But many Juniors had. In looking for a tech degree, I'd advise any college student to try to take advantage of the opportunity to do such a project before Junior year, as it shows a depth that will absolutely help with internships. But often many programs can't really accommodate this sort of complex work until after basic coursework has been accomplished, and that may be after sophomore year is over...

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Thanks The problem with my program is there are only 2 semesters followed by a coop term. And I'm currently starting my 2nd semester. 1st semester: Small individual, short(2-3 weeks) and useless assignments 2nd semester: There will be 2-3 BIG teamwork projects. (Haven't start it yet, because I just start this semester, but we have to submit our resume/interview next week! :( ) It seems that I may add a relevant coursework section and skip the projects section. –  user79124 Jan 22 '13 at 18:50
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It depends on what else you have in your resume, and what kind of job you are applying for.

Considering the extreme cases: if you have lots of other good work experience, and you are applying for a job where Java or programming experience is not relevant, don't include those in "Projects"; if you don't have any work experience, and you're applying for a Java programming job, then ... include the "Projects" section and give it the best spin you can.

In balance, though: Hiring managers like to see 'accomplishments' listed in their applicant's resumes. For students with no prior work experience though, the closest thing you may have is just class projects (1). So, pick out 2~3 'accomplishments', whether they be class-projects or otherwise, and use whatever sections you need to to fit those into your resume.


Note 1. Other common 'accomplishments' for students would be extra-curricular activities, awards, scholarships, research, volunteer work, summer jobs, on-campus jobs, etc. Just make sure you have a story about how you achieved them and how that demonstrates the skills/qualities/values/etc that the employer is looking for.

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