Opinion: Let’s Stop Building Long Resumes for Their Own Sake
By Anna Cincotta, Opinions Editor
Gettysburg College stands for the study of the liberal arts as a means of workplace readiness. But, institutionally, it also incentivizes passion and involvement outside of the classroom. In other words, students are expected to find inspiration in both coursework and their respective clubs and organizations. Student schedules tend to reflect this goal.
I’d argue, though, that this expectation might encourage students to spread themselves too thin, to never fully commit to the spaces and organizations where they find themselves most passionate and inspired. Campus culture rewards packed schedules and over-involvement. The danger in this way of thinking lies in the incentive for students to shy away from harder, more thought-provoking work, when holding three leadership positions in three different organizations is more important than making one positive, long-lasting change in one.
During my first week on campus, my RAs and orientation leaders recommended attending a resume-writing workshop at the Center for Career Development. The workshop was helpful, but intimidating—I didn’t really have anything college-related to add to my list of experiences and jobs. It was the first week. Somehow, though, I already felt like I was behind. I’m not alone in this feeling. I’ve talked to friends who have similar worries: that we’re not doing enough, that we won’t be marketable as young college graduates. So, naturally, we tend to overcompensate and overcommit.
Now, when I scroll through LinkedIn as a junior, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of resume building students accomplish during their four years at our liberal arts college. The titles and leadership positions littering our newsfeeds—program coordinators, research assistants, peer learning assistants, social media chairs, presidents, treasurers—sound professional. These labels signal workforce readiness and community engagement.
It’s not even the titles themselves that seem to carry the most weight in our college-skewed perception of success. It’s the number of positions we hold as Gettysburg College students. We determine our success quantitatively. Some of us grasp at straws to create the longest email signatures we possibly can, even if we’re doing it subconsciously. We’re not worthy if we don’t have enough experiences to list on our cover letters and resumes.
What’s unsettling about this student behavior and is that the quality of our leadership and involvement is lost somewhere in between our actions and our feverish desire to add that extra job or experience to our LinkedIn profiles. And the quality of our work is what should make us the most marketable as graduates of a liberal arts college. The thought that we put into our projects and ideas should carry more weight than the titles we hold. I also wonder if these titles and positions can actually be attributed to career readiness. As we’ve established, quality work doesn’t stem from long resumes. Actually, it’s quite possible that it comes from shorter ones.
Personally, I’ve had the most valuable leadership experiences in the organizations where I’ve dedicated the most time and energy. And, honestly, it’s impossible to care deeply about more than a handful of organizations. Limiting and learning to say no may help us think more critically about the issues that mean the most to us.
Yes, we need a combination of extracurricular involvement and dedication to our academic work in order to prepare for our post-grad plans. But the collaborative, quality results that are valued long-term necessitate care and quality.
My high school biology teacher had a mantra that we tended to ignore in our over-scheduled craze—“just say no.” I’d like to bring it back. I think that truly “great work” may follow.