The last few years of my life have been challenging. I've had a parent with substance abuse issues, and my attempt at a game designer career didn't pan out as I hoped. I've since pivoted to focus on software engineering, and I think I've landed on the right choice. That said, my career transition has not gone as smoothly as I'd hoped, thanks to various family drama and anxiety issues I've had in it's wake.
I am wondering about how best to describe my work experience in a way that balances accuracy with a compelling testament to my skills. To that end I have a few questions regarding areas of my employment record I feel unsure about.
- I worked on a mobile game project for the U.S. Department of Energy, but as a volunteer. I was the Lead Designer, Project Manager, and later Lead Programmer. It remains the largest project I have been involved in and it spanned two and half years. What would be the most accurate/impactful way to present this on my resume, that neither downplays it as a valuable experience, nor mischaracterizes it as a full-time, professional engagement?
- My last full-time tech job was a 3 month internship. I performed very well, and would have stayed on as the team's test engineer had the company not decided to centralize testing to their India branch. I have read advice that it is sometimes better to list a descriptive title in your resume, rather than strictly your official title. As such, does it make more sense for me to list this experience as "Software Engineer Intern" (official title) or "Software Test Engineer" (my de facto role)?
- Since my internship ended, and I have been dealing with family drama and anxiety/depression treatment, I have been working a retail job since I felt back in May of 2017. I have started to incorporate some of my programming experience into my day job, creating small tools to optimize some of my work responsibilities, but mainly as a side-project alongside my core responsibilities. Is it worth it to me to put this on my resume? If so, would listing titles like "Developer, Signage Captain, Social Media Captain" be valuable and not misleading? Or is it better to leave it off and just have that tech employment gap?