Building your résumé while still in high school is easier than you think and can lead to many more job opportunities.

Grades Aren’t Enough: 4 Tips to Build Your Résumé

Grades Aren’t Enough: 4 Tips to Build Your Résumé

A résumé is important for your students to have when looking for an after-school or summer job and applying for college. Most teens think that they can’t build a résumé because they don’t have much (if any) experience, but that isn’t true! Students can build a résumé with their academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and leadership roles.

Teach your students how to build the best résumé possible — and why it's so important.Thinking of getting a summer job or an after-school gig? Applying to college? Whatever you’re applying to, you’ll need a résumé.

Now, grades are important, I will admit. As someone who tried to get an A on everything during my first year of high school, it would be a bit hypocritical of me to say otherwise. But it’s just as important to stress that your GPA is not the only thing that should matter to you in high school. More importantly, a number does not and should not ever define you. There are so many things that you could do in high school other than just worry about how you’re doing in class.

I know that the idea of being involved in activities can be a bit daunting, especially if you’re anything like I was and don’t even know where to start. So here are a few ideas to set you up for success:

1. Ask Around.

Check out what your friends are doing. See if anyone is a part of a program or extracurricular activity in your community that you find interesting. Talk to upperclassmen, teachers, and counselors in your high school and see what they have to recommend. In high school, I knew I loved to write, and after talking to an upperclassman who was involved with a writing and mentorship program called Girls Write Now, I too became involved. I have been grateful for the experience ever since.

2. See What Activities Your School Offers.

Most high schools love to boast about the extracurriculars they offer — sports teams, academic clubs, theater groups, community service opportunities. My high school offered extracurriculars such as model United Nations, photography club, tutoring at local elementary schools, and research opportunities at nearby colleges and universities. Even though I wasn’t involved in all of the activities that my school offered, I was happy with the ones that I did participate in, such as the running club, the social justice club, and Girls Inc., which gave me the opportunity to tutor middle school girls in English and math after school.

3. Do Some Research.

I remember that toward the end of my sophomore year, I had no idea what I wanted to do for the summer. I decided to randomly Google “community service near me” to find what opportunities were available in my area. I ended up learning that my local public library was open to having interested high school students volunteer. So I spent most of my summer helping younger kids use computers and find new books to read. Not only was the experience fun and a great way to spend my time during the summer, but it was also something that I was able to list on my résumé.

4. Try Forming a Club Yourself.

If you don’t like what your school has to offer, try starting your own club — either alone or with a couple of friends. In my junior year of high school, I was obsessed with a many books that I wanted to discuss with others. But that was hard to do, considering that most people might not have read the same books. That is when I talked to my English teacher about starting a book club. It can be that easy. Talk to faculty and friends and get your idea turned into a club — not only for you to enjoy, but for many others who might also benefit. Starting a club looks great on a résumé, by the way.

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s finding extracurricular activities in your school or volunteer opportunities in your community, it’s important to take the time to discover what you might want to be involved in during your high school years.

It is also an excellent way to build your résumé, which will be impressive to present to hiring and admissions officers at jobs, internships, and colleges that you might consider applying to in the future.

It is all about what you make of your high school experience. Don’t just spend all your time on studying. Let your experiences define who you are and what you want to do someday — that matters — just as much as numbers on a piece of paper.

Check List

What clubs are already offered at your school?

  • What extracurricular activities are you involved in that you can put on your résumé?
  • If you aren’t already involved in clubs or extracurricular activities, what can you do?
  • Do you see the need for a club that doesn’t yet exist? Can you get one started?
  • Where can you volunteer in your local community to gain service hours and leadership opportunities?