Creating a CV when you are a graduate student, ECE or CS

February 2, 2019

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This post will give some tips on how to get started when you are a graduate student and do not have a good CV. Or you may have a CV you don’t like. Or you may be trying to figure out how write a CV, since you are applying to graduate school. Welcome! This page is for you. Another resource, a general post on CVs with an example, is here.

You may not have very much to put on your CV when you are an early graduate student, or looking to apply to graduate school. That is expected. Do not compare your CV to professors’ CVs. In fact, make it a habit now not to compare yourself to other graduate students or professors.

However, do not make this fact of your existence worse by not including key sections. Some sections may not be relevant to you; if you do not have experience in a section, do not include it. But if you do have experience or something to add, include it!

Typical Sections.

Optional Sections.

Why create a CV as an early graduate student?

By creating a CV early, you will have this document ready when it is time to apply for:

and when someone needs to write a letter, they will ask for your CV. You already have one. Since it is already in existence, you have an idea of what goes on it, and you can continuously update it. By the way, apply for the above three things when you have the opportunity!

A strategy when starting from nothing.

Find a template you like, and can compile (if using latex). Fill in the education bit, and the basics. This is a U.S.-specific guide, so do not put your birth date on it, and the same goes for a photo – leave it off. Why? And then, over time, every time you think of something, or do something new, update your CV. My tip – put it in a private repository, so you can update it wherever you are, or figure out another easy way to update it.

Once you have gotten started.

Once you have a template, keep on updating your CV.

Suppose you have submitted a paper. You may think you have to wait until it is accepted to put it on your CV. Wrong! Get it on a preprint server, and then you have a publication! Preprints are evidence that your work is being packaged into publications and is ready to be viewed by the community. These are important, and should be listed on your CV. I also list the preprint link, so readers can access the work with minimal effort. Make sure your advisor and/or co-authors are in agreement with the preprint strategy before doing it, though. For more details, check the next section.

Gradually, by listing everything you are doing, professionally, and using preprints, all of your work will be listed on the CV and it will grow. Then, when it is time to submit your CV for a travel grant, or some other deadline, you are ready to go!

The importance of metadata in the Publications section.

If you have a few publications, my feeling is that it is fine to group them all together as Publications. However, once you are applying for a fellowship, travel grant, or faculty job, I think you have to be clear about what is what. So divide the publications by type, and peer review. Usually in my field this is: Journal articles, Refereed conference publications, Book chapters, Non-refereed conference/workshop publications, and Preprints, and many other combinations.

For me, when a paper is accepted by the journal (not accepted with minor revisions, but finally accepted), then I move it to the relevant category (journal, conference, etc.). I think it disingenuous to list submitted papers as journal papers to particular journals – you could list them instead as preprints – as there’s no guarantee that work will be accepted to that journal.

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