How to Build Your Resume in College as a Software Engineer
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Hale Jaeger in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
- Steps After You’ve Been Admitted
- Take Classes Related to Your Interests
- Software Engineering Extracurriculars
- Why You Should Prioritize Internships
Steps After You’ve Been Admitted
There are numerous steps that you can take, starting in high school, to become a software engineer. When looking at universities and after you’ve been admitted, you want to check out what majors each department has that may overlap with your interests.
The most important qualification for becoming a software engineer is being able to do the job of a software engineer. Your exact major does not matter as much as if you have the skills to perform the work, which you can demonstrate through your portfolio of projects, extracurricular activities, and internships.
Regardless of your major, take courses that diversify your knowledge and expose you to different applications for your degree. Classes like program design, computer system analysis, machine learning, and linear algebra are great to get you started for a successful career in computer science.
Take Classes Related to Your Interests
When building your class schedule, you should include classes that are specific to your field of interest. For example, if you are interested in cybersecurity and your university offers classes about that topic, you should prioritize those courses. Having related classes under your belt will help you secure internships in that field.
When you start your degree, you might not have any applicable experience, so this is when your classes will help you get that first internship. If you do a project in any of these classes, you can include that work on your resume.
Software Engineering Extracurriculars
There is more to building a great resume than just academics. Internships, projects, and extracurriculars play a large role in creating a portfolio and demonstrating that you are capable of doing computer science or software engineering. For this reason, you should continue building your portfolio in college by engaging with software engineering opportunities outside of the classroom. Join related clubs and participate in competitions to network, strengthening your resume and your experience.
Similarly, you want to find extracurriculars that are tailored to your job interests. For example, if you are interested in video game design, schools like Harvard University have game development clubs where students work together on puzzle and adventure projects. Look into what your school or community offers in terms of organizations, and see if you can join something related to your major.
Why You Should Prioritize Internships
Throughout college, you’ll want to be looking for internships. Computer science and software engineering are fields where internships over the summer in particular are abundant and can help advance your career.
Many students want to intern at one of the tech giants, like Google or Facebook, but spots at those are quite competitive. While they can help strengthen your resume, so can other companies. Every company nowadays needs someone to help with some aspect of their online presence, so there are many opportunities to hone your skills and build a name for yourself.
The great part about software engineering is no matter the field, you can find something tailored to your interests. Whether it is a finance company, production company, nonprofit organization, or marketing firm, you can find a position in software engineering. Any internship that you manage to get has the potential of turning into a return offer post-graduation.
A big pathway for students who want to work for a specific company is getting their foot in the door the summer before their senior year. You can use that internship to build your reputation at the company for having a strong work ethic and high-quality performance.