If you’re a high school student thinking of applying for an internship, job, or other activity, you may need a resume as part of your application package. It’s also possible that, come fall of your senior year, you’ll need a resume for some of your college applications. If you’ve never written a resume before, it can seem like a daunting proposition. Keep reading to learn how to put together a resume that will not only help you land an opportunity, but will also be a useful tool for you in the years to come.
It may seem that a resume should contain lots of impressive qualifications and experiences and, as a high school student, you probably haven’t done that much. However, the purpose of a resume is to communicate your unique combination of skills and experiences—things that matter to you and make you who you are. To help you brainstorm what you want to include on your resume, think in terms of the common headings you’ll find on a resume: Contact Information, Education, Experience (where you would list jobs, internships, and leadership experience), Extracurricular Activities, Awards and Honors, Special Skills, and Interests.
You’ll want to have several bolded headings on your resume for gathering the various categories of information listed there. Each heading should be followed by a list of the activities or experiences that fit in that category. For each item, write a brief description of what you did for that activity. Finally, in the right-hand column, include the start and end date for the activity (or if you’re still engaged in an activity, you can say “[start date]-present”). When ordering the activities, list them chronologically, from the most recent to the oldest.
Start your resume by putting your name and contact information at the top of the page. Your contact information should be current—don’t include an email address you don’t check, for example. It’s advisable to use an institutional email address, such as your school email, if you have one, or a gmail address. If your email address is goofy (email@example.com) now might be a good time to update it to a simple, professional-looking email address with only your name.
Here’s a sample:
This section should include your academic information (your high school, graduation date, GPA, and class rank if applicable). If you’ve taken your SAT or ACT exams, you can include your scores. You’ll also want to be sure to add any academic experience you’ve had outside of school, such as college classes you’ve taken or summer programs you’ve completed.
Here’s a sample:
Hometown High School, Omaha, NE (2018-2022)
GPA: Unweighted 3.2/Weighted 3.8
Relevant Coursework: AP Calculus, Computer Science, Biology
Hometown Community College, Omaha, Nebraska Fall 2021
Introduction to Political Science course
This is where you would list any job or internship experience you might have or highlight leadership positions you’ve taken on. See the examples below:
- Caring for several children in my local community, aged 1-5, on regular evenings and weekends.
Local Kid’s Theatre Omaha, NE
Summer Intern June-August 2022
- Worked five days a week alongside director and producer of local kid’s theater company. Helped guide group of 12 kids in program. Assisted with warm-up activities, rehearsals, learning lines, and organizing production.
Local Animal Shelter Omaha, NE
Volunteer June 2022-June 2023
- Walked, groomed, fed, and played with dogs and cats at local animal shelter each Saturday. Learned basic information about veterinary medicine from shelter staff.
This is where you describe any meaningful activities you’re engaged in outside of classes and jobs. Here are some examples:
Debate Team Omaha, NE
Hometown High School 2021-present
- Meet twice a week with debate teammates to study and practice various styles of debate. Team placed third at regional Debate Team meet in spring 2023.
Varsity Track Team Omaha, NE
Hometown High School 2021-present
- Participate in daily after-school practices during fall, winter and spring training seasons throughout high school. Placed first in 400m dash at regional meet in fall 2022.
Awards and Honors
This is the section where you can share the outstanding recognition you’ve received, at school or elsewhere. For example:
Principal’s Honor Roll Omaha, NE
Hometown High School 2020-present
Employee of the Month Omaha, NE
Jamba Juice June 2023
This is the place to highlight any noteworthy skills that set you apart. There’s no need to include start and end dates for these. See the following examples:
Fluent in Chinese language (Mandarin) (spoken and written)
Proficient in Spanish language (spoken and written)
Knowledge of HTML and Python programming languages
Certified Lifeguard, CPR/AED, First Aid
Finally, including a section that lists your hobbies and passions (beyond your extracurriculars) will help your reader understand more fully who you are. As with special skills, there’s no need to include start and end dates. Also, there’s no need to list all of your interests—it’s better to choose a few. Here are some things that might fall under that category:
Baking (won blue ribbon in 2023 at Omaha County Fair for cheesecake); darkroom photography; chess
When you’re finished drafting your resume, take a look at its length. You should aim to have your resume be a single page long, using the entire space of the page. It should follow a straightforward format and be written in a consistent, professional-looking font that is easy to read. If you’re worried about formatting, there are plenty of templates online that you can use. In some (very rare) cases, you may need to add a second page to your resume; keep in mind that your reader will be scanning your resume quickly, and shorter is generally better. As with all professional documents, it’s very important to proofread your resume to catch any typos or grammatical errors before submitting it.
Putting a resume together can be hard work, but having it done will pay off as you head into college application season. You may find yourself revising your resume and submitting it as part of your college applications. Or you might draw on it when you’re composing your Activities List for the Common App in the fall. When you’re writing your application essays, your resume might even help you write about some of the meaningful experiences you’ve had in high school. Plus, seeing all of your experiences and accomplishments in one place can be a big confidence booster!