Experiential learning resources for the innovative educator
Any time is a good time to jump on high school resume builders for students, but summer is a GREAT time for high school students to bolster resumes for colleges and careers.
Resume building is good for younger students, as well, not necessarily in terms of college and career readiness, but for developing life skills such as work ethic, teamwork, and responsible citizenship.
This post has the best high school resume builders for students out there. Let's dive in.
Summer is a great time to take advantage of high school resume builders for students simply because there is more time and there tend to be more opportunities available for young people, as it is assumed they aren't in school over the summer.
This is obviously not the case for everyone. Resume builders for students don't have to take place over the summer, nor do students have to be on break to work on personal growth and bulking up their resumes.
There are obvious resume builders for students to build their high school resumes such as volunteering or a high GPA, but there are many less obvious ways.
I think it's really important for students to branch away from the typical or expected points on a resume for a couple of reasons:
I've listed my favorite high school resume builders for students and added resources that might go well with each. All of the suggestions are student-directed and experiential.
10 High School Resume Builders for Students
1. Building a 21st-Century Skills Portfolio:
As I said above, having something to show for yourself other than the fact that you can get a decent GPA is critical. A GPA demonstrates limited capabilities and isn't always an accurate representation of performance or potential.
Employers of today are looking for employees that can problem-solve, work well with others, work independently, navigate technology that is constantly evolving, and other soft skills that reflect 21st-century life and careers.
Developing 21st-century skills and showing evidence of competence in these skills with a portfolio is a favorite high school resume builder for students.
My 21st-Century Skills Portfolio is a great resource for this high school resume builder. The idea is for learners to assemble "evidence" of 21st-century skill-building. Students coordinate skill-building opportunities and add evidence of those experiences along with a reflection to this ready-made and guided portfolio.
All of the suggested resume builders for students included in this blog post are skill-building activities by nature and could be added to this portfolio.
The portfolio could then be shared with potential employers and/or college admissions counselors to demonstrate skills and experiences. It could also be added to a senior project experience.
2. Community Action Projects:
Community Action Projects are project-based learning activities where students explore community issues (locally, nationally, or globally) that they find important.
Students research the issue, make an action plan, and take action, all of which make community action projects another one of my favorite high school resume builders for students.
It is not as simple as a community service activity or volunteer experience. It requires research, commitment to the issue, and making a long-term change in the community. Raising money, advocating for legislation, giving time, and raising awareness are some ways to approach community action projects.
What is cool about this resume builder for students compared to the other others listed here is that community action projects are student-directed and community-based.
The students lead the projects from start to finish offering opportunities to build career-ready skills such as leadership, time management, creative problem-solving, task-management, planning, decision making, and more.
I have a few community action resources that are theme-specific, all of which focus on an assigned issue.
The community action project resource that I recommend, however, is my community action project toolkit. This resource includes guiding materials that help students independently and productively design and lead their own community action projects.
The great thing about the tool kit is that it's open-ended. You can use this same resource over and over and over again.
3. Online Courses:
There are so many free courses online today, many of them from highly reputable colleges.
Not only does this high school resume builder for students increase content knowledge but it also demonstrates that the student has the skills to self-direct and has an interest in tech literacy, an important 21st-century skill.
Udemy, Coursera, and edX are some options among many others. The Covid-19 pandemic has led many organizations to provide historically expensive online courses for free. This resume builder is great for professional development and CEU's for educators as well.
Check out this list of free educational websites for teens (including online courses).
4. Start a Business:
Another one of my favorite high school resume builders for students is entrepreneurship. I love to have my high school students develop AND run their own businesses.
The experience can be as elaborate or basic as you'd like. The businesses could be as simple as lawn mowing or dog walking or as elaborate as starting a skateboard clothing brand. I have had students do both.
There is so much to be gained from starting a business. Students would learn about marketing, how to balance a budget, create and use spreadsheets, write a business plan, and more.
This high school resume builder for students also offers them the opportunity to show off a variety of soft skills including leadership skills, organization, planning, collaboration, creativity, problem-solving, and more.
My students use my High School Entrepreneurship: Start a Business resource. This resource is 26 pages of templates that seamlessly guide students through brainstorming business ideas, conducting market research, writing a business plan, building a business website, and more.
I mentioned earlier in this post that standard volunteering and/or community service are among the more obvious high school resume builders for students.
That doesn't make volunteering or community service bad, but they are both better resume builders for students when done from a service-learning approach.
Service-learning isn't just signing up for volunteer hours. Service-learning encourages students to identify community needs and develop creative ways to fill those needs.
Service-learning is an even more profound resume builder when the learning experience is designed and led by students themselves.
Similar to my community action toolkit, I also offer a student-led service-learning tool kit. It is a great tool for helping students observe community issues, identify community needs related to the issues, and creatively problem-solve ways to solve the issue and meet the needs associated with the issue.
This resume builder for students is another fantastic example of an experience that helps students build those soft skills that are so desired by employers of the 21st-century.
Shadowing and interning are great high school resume builders for students especially when paired with career exploration experiences.
Not only that, internships and shadowing both give students a clear understanding of whether their "career path" of interest is really what they want.
I thought I wanted to be a doctor my entire young life. I even went through almost two years of pre-med while I was an undergrad just to discover later that I was not only uninterested in the field, but extremely uncomfortable with many of the tasks that would have been required of me.
I could have saved myself a lot of time, energy, and resources if I had volunteered in a hospital during high school or shadowed a nurse or doctor before committing to a career that made me feel uneasy.
Shadowing and/or interning experiences that are coordinated by the students themselves (rather than you, their teacher or parent, making the arrangements) strengthens their resumes even more.
That's why I recommend grabbing my project-based learning career exploration experience. Students explore careers of interest through real-world, authentic learning experiences such as shadowing and interning. That is the nature of project-based learning.
7. Gainful Employment:
Gainful employment is an essential high school resume builder for students, and it is one of many great ways for teens to discover their passions and interests.
I had some older students that came to my school often after years of struggling in the traditional school system. Most of them, some 20 years old, had never been employed.
Employment helps students practice teamwork, punctuality, work ethic, personal finance, and other life skills. Not only that, it gives students a sense of accomplishment and pride.
I don't have a specific resource to offer for gainful employment as a resume builder, but I would encourage students to design and carry out project-based learning experiences related to job skills (ex: interviewing).
Take a peek at my self-directed project-based learning tool kit, which can be used to design and develop any project-based learning experience. In this particular case, students could develop PBLs related to employment.
8. Start a Blog or a Podcast:
Have students identify something that interests them such as art, music, history, social issues, education, etc. that they can develop a blog or podcast around.
The blog or podcast should be based on a topic that they wish to display on their resumes. For example, if they are interested in music production as a potential career, starting a blog about the local music scene would make sense.
Creating a blog or podcast is an experience in itself and is one of my favorite high school resume builders for students. There's a huge learning curve. I know from experience.
Blogging and podcasting are also multi-disciplinary and help students build 21st-century skills.
Another cool thing about creating a blog or podcast is that they are available to the public, so potential employers or clients could access them to get an idea of personal character, skills, and knowledge on the subject matter.
9. Learn a New Skill:
I like to have my students learn new skills related to their careers of interest or jobs that they would like to apply for.
In this case when I say “skill” I am not referring to soft skills such as collaboration and problem-solving. Your students should build those skills as a resume builder as well using the portfolio that I’ve already mentioned.
But students should also build hard skills or skills that might give them a leg up or a competitive edge in the application pool.
For example, if a student is interested in project management as a career option they might want to learn how to create and format a spreadsheet. If a student wants to get into marketing they might want to learn how to conduct a marketing audit. If they want to get a summer job doing alterations, they should learn how to use a sewing machine.
I like the concept of learning a new skill for a variety other reasons than the fact that it is one of my favorite high school resume builders for students.
I love having students build new skills associated with their resumes because the experiences encourage a growth mindset and lifelong learning.
I also take a project-based learning approach to this experience. Because the PBL experience is more about skill-building than it is about deep diving into complicated content, it makes for a great introductory self-directed project-based learning experience.
Check out my self-directed Project-Based Learning Resource: Build a New Skill, which guides students through this high school resume builder from start to finish.
10. Start a Club
Starting a club is another one of my favorite high school resume builders for students!
Coordinating and maintaining a club looks outstanding on a resume. It takes organizational skills, follow-through, commitment, creativity, leadership skills, time management skills and more.
Summer reading groups, a community clean-up group, a wildlife club, and a skateboard club are all great examples of clubs that students could start, and they are fun and build relationships to boot!
I have a resource that walks students through the process of creating, launching and managing a club. Similar to the Learn a New Skill resource, this Start a Club resource is also project-based.
Thanks for checking out 10 high school resume builders for students! There are of course many other options than what is listed here. I would love to hear your ideas and comments. Thanks for stopping by!
All of the resources mentioned in this blog post can also be purchased together. Check out these bundles of high school resume builders for students from Experiential Learning Depot.
Also, if your students are looking for jobs, check out the fresh jobs for college and high school students on Jooble.
Bundled Resume Building Resources:
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To provide innovative educational resources for educators, parents, and students, that go beyond lecture and worksheets.
Sara Segar, experiential life-science educator and advisor, curriculum writer, and mother of two.