Tuesday, November 25, 2008

CV woes

Confused about CVs? Well, so was I the first time I had to write one. After writing, re-writing, and updating my CV several times, I think I have more of a clue as to what I’m doing. For the most part, I’ve figured out what sections work for me and what to write in each one. But, there is still one part I do spend quite a bit of time agonizing over: Lab skills.

It shouldn’t be hard. I’ve taken 1 lab course and 6 courses with lab components, so I do have things to write down. I just don’t know how much of it needs to be written down. My peers have told me that I should write every goddamn thing I can come up with and even marginally justify writing down because getting that lab position is a goddamn competition and I need to be as impressive as I can manage. I’m not quite sure this is the best way to about things and at times it would probably border on lying. Sure, I got to do Technique X one time in my Biology of A class, but that doesn’t mean I could actually do it again independently. I would have no problem writing this down if I knew that whoever is going to be looking at my CV reads it as “LostMarbles has a clue about Technique X and has tried to do it.” But I can never be sure, which makes me question whether I should add certain things.

Another thing that I worry about is listing skills like pipetting. Yeah, I can do it, but so can every other life science undergrad past their 2nd year. An isn’t it implied that I can pipette if I can list techniques that obviously require it? It seems like a waste of space. On the other hand, whoever is reading my CV is probably scanning for keywords, and that might just be one.

tl;dr version: I wish I knew how Professors look at undergraduate lab skills sections on CVs. Anyone feel like helping me out here?

As an added bonus this year, I also get to agonize over whether I should list the 4 submitted meeting abstracts that I’m an author on. And if I do, what section should I put them on.

1 comment:

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde said...

Ha ha! I also once thought that all biomed undergrads could pipette. Turns out, not true. Put it on.

As for techniques you've seen in lab classes but not sure you can recreate yourself--why not just say that, only more nicely, on the CV? "Have performed" (or "familiar with") Westerns (or whatever).

FOR SURE you should add the abstract titles. At the end there should be a section of "Publications". Put a subhead such as "Conference Abstracts" and then the full reference (without the abstract) for each poster. It demonstrates that you've been doing work and that someone else valued your contribution to something.