A curriculum vitae (predominantly called a CV, although sometimes a vita) is a biographical account that outlines ones career and job training.
This obviously bears a striking resemblance to a resumé, which we use when applying for jobs.
But if the two seem to be similar, why do you need a CV for your graduate school applications rather than a regular resumé?
Since graduate school is focused on research and presenting research, you want to highlight experiences in your undergraduate career that correlate with your ability to research, write, and present.
Although the two often overlap in a few ways, they are primarily dissimilar documents.
What is a resumé?
A resume is a one or two page document that outlines your work and volunteer experience as related to a specific position you are applying to. If you do not have a lot of work or volunteer experience, your resumé may be fairly general in nature.
A master resumé on the other hand is a much longer copy of your resumé that outlines all of your work and volunteer experience. A master resumé is particularly useful document for students to maintain, and something that all students and new grads should have.
The reason: when it comes time to write a new resumé for a job application, master copy will make it easy to cut and paste the most relevant experiences into your new resumé.
What is a CV?
A CV is very much like a master resumé because it outlines everything you’ve ever done. However, a CV includes much more than just the volunteer and work experience you’ve had in university.
So, what do you include in a CV? Since graduate school is focused on research and presenting research, you want to highlight experiences in your undergraduate career that correlate with your ability to research, write, and present.
This may include:
- Major presentations you’ve given, particularly those outside of the classroom
- Major research papers or thesis work
- Working as an undergraduate teaching assistant
- Any work you have had published; preferably in academic journals, but non-academic sources can also be useful
- Tutoring or being a peer mentor for younger students in your program
- Any scholarships or awards you have been granted
- Particularly for science and engineering students: any important laboratory findings or work you have completed
When writing your CV it is pivotal that you go through multiple edits and have more than one other person read it over to ensure you haven’t missed anything. Submitting a CV with errors is a quick way to ruin your credibility with the committee who overlooks your application.
Where do I find a sample of a CV?
If you search CV or curriculum vitae on the Internet, you can get a bunch of examples from different websites. However, since CVs are sometimes considered the norm for job applications outside of Canada, you may not find a very good example.
To start, there are two places that you should check out related to your current program. First, check out your campus career centre. Oftentimes they have handouts or resources you can use to help you draft up a CV.
For me, the best example was speaking with faculty members of my department, and modelling my CV after theirs. Although professional CVs will be longer than those of an undergrad, they are one of the best resources you can find!
But whatever you do, don’t make your CV look like this one! (Hot damn! I wish I could win the “Puletsur Prize” and donate the winnings to charity too!)
To learn more about CVs, check out 3 Ways To Build Your CV During Grad School.