Bonnie, a high school senior wrote on her resume:
“Research Assistant: Worked in the lab using the Mind Ware Technology. Collected and analyzed data. Worked for the summer with professor and graduate students.”
Every Monday I volunteer at Reality Changers. When I moved to San Diego I looked into local organizations focused on education and making a difference in the lives of students. I was drawn to Reality Changers because their program provides high school students from disadvantage backgrounds with tutoring, resources and leadership training to become college graduates. Each Monday I meet in a large conference room with 25 students and help them with their college application essays and prompt responses.
Back to the story of Bonnie. When I talked to Bonnie about her research assistant position, it turns out that there was more to the story. She explained that she was reading an article in the New York Times about a study on honesty. She said she’s passionate about positive emotions, and how they can help people to create new positive habits, which was why she found herself reading about honesty. She’s also hooked on TED talks.
But what she said next surprised me most. She took action. She looked up the professor from the article and emailed him. In the email she asked if she could talk to him about volunteering in his lab since he was based at a local university. The professor agreed to meet with her and from there, he created a lab position just for her.
Now that’s impressive.
We transformed her resume description (this is for college apps so we needed to limit the word count) to:
“After reading Professor Oveis’ New York Time’s article, I contacted and interviewed to create research position in his empathy study. Cleaned up/analyzed heart rate variability data, learned how to use Mind Ware Technologies Ltd.’s HRV Analysis Software and worked closely with professor and graduate student team.”
We forget how impressive we are.
We distill it to the most general terms. Why?
We don’t think we’re impressive because we hang around ourselves all day long. But the truth is, you have impressive stories to tell. So take a minute to recognize that and tell it right.
What I love most is the courage it took to reach out to the professor. Most students wouldn’t have even considered writing an email or *gasp* clicking send.
Most importantly, the reason she connected with the professor in the first place comes back to passion. Bonnie’s passion aligns with the professor’s emotion research and that compelled her to take that next step.
This week, think about something you’re passionate about, and reach out.
There are so many people that have volunteer opportunities, knowledge to share, and career positions just waiting for you–especially if your passion aligns with theirs. You simply have to take action.