Is it Cryptic or Scary? Things to avoid doing to your Resume

Although Halloween is just around the corner, be sure to avoid these scary and cryptic things you might be doing to your resume or CV.  Undergraduates, here is a short list of things you don’t want to do!

Only listing your GPA if it’s a 3.5 or above.  This is ridiculous advice that’s often given to undergraduates.  I’ve seen many 3.0 student’s who think they shouldn’t put their resume because it’s not high enough.  First off, if you’re a STEM major you should realize that you likely have a heavy course load and shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. If you decide not to include your GPA then be sure to speak confidently if it comes up. If you’re a first year student without a GPA then include your high school gpa or your community college transfer gpa. Just be sure to include that these are from a prior school.

Scary or Cryptic? 
Scary because you should know that your GPA does not define your interest nor your aptitude.  

Failing to list jobs and opportunities you acquired that were impacted by COVID.
Maybe you got an internship last summer but it was cancelled due to COVID. Maybe you got an REU last summer. Why are you not listing this??? You likely went through interview after interview, got the job offer, even got housing arranged and then suddenly then suddenly you got the call that your internship was cancelled due to COVID. Maybe you were all set to work in a lab but the lab was closed so you couldn’t participate. This is through no fault of yours.  You need to include this!

Scary or Cryptic? 
Cryptic because they will have no idea that you received a job or research internship offer this past summer unless you tell them. Even it it didn’t happen it does show that you have aptitude.

Not listing your professor and/or lab’s name when listing research experience.  I see this a lot and it doesn’t make sense. Why wouldn’t you include your professor’s name?  Here’s an example of how you might list your lab position:
Name of School, Undergraduate Researcher, Name of Lab
Advisor: Your PI or Faculty Adviser, Project Area or Research Area:
then list your contributions and a description of the project. 

Scary or Cryptic?  
Cryptic If you interned at Apple would you list it as a Tech Company in Cupertino?

Not spelling out acronyms Sometimes acronyms could have double meanings.  If you live in Los Angeles and put down USC that means University of Southern California but if you live on the East Coast USC means University of Southern Carolina.  Also, DOE could mean Department of Energy or Department of Education.  

Scary or Cryptic?  
Cryptic. Similarly, what if you are listing an award from ACM.  Is that Association of Computing Machinery or American Country Music Award?
Quick Sidebar: If you won an ACM award (any kind) why aren’t you sharing your story??  

Putting photos on your resume.  It’s generally not customary to include a photo on your resume. It’s wasted space that you could use for listing out credentials that you want to highlight. Save the photos for LinkedIn.  

Scary or Cryptic?  Likely cryptic if it’s an old photo. Make sure your LinkedIn photo actually looks like you.  If you’re still using your senior portrait from high school and you’re now a senior in college you might want to update your LinkedIn photo

Putting company logos all over your resume. Your resume should be text not logos.  Although you might be excited that you had an internship at a FAANG company (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Alphabet (google) it looks really bad to have a resume covered with logos.

Scary or Cryptic? You want your resume to look like a resume not a Black Friday ad we’ll call this one scary because think about what you do with those Black Friday ads that come in the mail. Don’t give them any reason to put your resume in the recycle bin   

Putting a QR Code on your resume If I’m emailing you a resume then a QR is pointless and if you’re handing someone a resume why would you ask them to look elsewhere. 

Scary or Cryptic? Cryptic because I don’t understand why one would put a QR code     

Not including relevant coursework that is in progress and planned.  Think of it this way, you’re likely applying for summer internships for next summer.  With this in mind, remember it will be helpful to include classes that you are taking now AND classes that you plan to take this fall.  Maybe the REU wants someone who has a year or programming experience or year of chemistry by the time the internship happens. Guess what? If you list that then they’ll know you have this.
Scary or Cryptic?
This one’s both Cryptic and Scary.  Cryptic because no one will know that you have this coursework unless you tell them and scary because you might be missing out on an opportunity if you don’t include coursework.

Now once you’ve made sure that you don’t have any of these scary or cryptic resume flaws your resume will be as sweet as candy. Start applying now for summer positions now and you’ll see the opportunities come knocking on your door just like trick or treaters.

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Upcoming Virtual STEM Diversity Conferences

Tapia Diversity in Computing Conference
September 16 – 18, 2020

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing
September 29 – October 3, 2020

Great Minds in STEM
Conference Theme:  Every Challenge, Every Frontier
October 5 – 9, 2020

The conferences are virtual but the opportunities are REAL!

October 19- 24, 2020

SACNAS Community College Day!!
Sacnas Community College Day!  

Free for Community College Students!!
September 18, 2020
10:00 am to 3:00 pm

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)
Conference Theme: Ascend to Transcend
October 26 – 31, 2020

Society of Women Engineers
November 2 – 13, 2020
Conference Theme: Practice Curiosity: Here, There-Anywhere!

National Society of Black Physicists
Conference Theme: Achieving the Vision: From First Principles to the Future
November 5-8, 2020   

Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students
Conference Theme: Visualizing a Better Future in STEM
November 9 – 13, 2020

A Multi-day digital experience
November 9 – 13, 2020

Out in Stem in Collaboration with the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP)
Conference Theme: The Magic of Tenacity 
November 12 – 15, 2020

National Society of Black Engineers
#NSBE46 Virtual Convention August 19-23, 2020

Desire To Inspire Others? Do you want to share your words of wisdom for first time conference attendees?  Let us know!

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people having a concert

“My Brother-in-law, Beyonce, and Helping Students Succeed”

Everyday on the first day of class I start off by making eye contact with a student sitting in the back of the class and say, “You know my brother works at Stubhub, he often gets free concert tickets. He’s got tickets to the upcoming Beyonce concert.  By any chance, are you a Beyonce fan?”  An excited student will eagerly nod and say yes!!  I’ll then stay in character and say, “Great. Okay, so I have to let him know exactly where you want to sit in order for him to get the tickets. Where exactly would you like to sit?” Almost on cue the student will say, “Front row, as close as possible.”  In a boisterous tone I’ll say, “Really? Front Row!! You want to sit in the Front Row!  Well, why aren’t you sitting in the front row right now??” The other students will laugh along with their classmates and I’ll then proceed to tell them the fact that students who sit in the line of sight of their professors always do better.  It’s not always Beyonce, one year it was K-Pop, another year it was Guns N’Roses because a student’s phone went off and her ringtone happened to be “Sweet Child O’Mine.” 

Regardless of the artist, the message is the same. Students need to sit in front. Now in a pandemic and with the lecture halls replaced with Zoom boxes I still did the Beyonce bit this year.  Students still loved it and understood why it’s so important to show up and sit in front. I would argue it’s even more important now.  Sitting in front it’s different now. At the very least it’s making sure your camera is on. It’s making sure your Zoom name is accurately placed on the box not Tim’s “iphone” or your email address. For students right now Zoom etiquette is as essential as wearing a face mask. 

Countless studies continue to show that students who sit in the line of sight will do better.  I have read countless letters of recommendation for graduate school and for scholarships where professors have mentioned specifically that the student that they are recommending is always sitting in the front and always engaged.  Even the mere fact that the professor can see you has a halo effect.  

Ways to Sit in Front When You’re Online!

Good Posture Plays A Role
So how do you sit in front when you’re sitting in front of your computer screen?  Are you lying in bed in pajamas? Are you slouching?  Besides giving the wrong impression this is also an ergonomic faux pas. Be sure to have good posture, you’ll look better and you’ll feel better. 

Avoid The Fisheye Lens Approach.
Not only does it look foolish, it will probably strain your eyesight. Maintain good proximity from the screen and ideally viewers will see your head and your shoulders. 

Find Your Voice
If needed, invest in wireless headphones that include a microphone.  The only thing worse than speaking too low is speaking too LOUD.  You don’t want to be that person that sounds muffled. Speak clearly and confidently.  Even if you’re nervous chances are everyone else is to.  Practice speaking into the camera by yourself. Use your phone or video on your computer.  Record yourself if you have to.  You might notice that you use a lot of filler words such as “um” and “like”  if you’re from California like I am .  If you find yourself doing that, continue recording.  I guarantee that those Um’s and Ah’s will be gone like yesterday’s news.   

Use the Hand Raise Option on Zoom  
It’s inevitable that people will find themselves talking over each other during Zoom calls.  Be respectful and don’t be the person that talks over everyone.  If you’re already starting classes it’s likely that you’ve noticed that person.  Don’t be that person.  

Let Others Find their Voice, Too

When you’re not speaking put yourself mute on. This will help minimize background noise so that everyone can hear what the professor is saying.  Just be sure to take yourself off mute. 
Now get ready to be like Beyonce and “Run The World.”

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Help REU Finder Change the Face of STEM this fall

When I started REUFinder in December of 2018 I did so with the intent of creating an easy directory for students to find summer research experiences. I wanted students to know that their GPA or citizenship status should not be a deterrent to obtaining internship experiences. As I began compiling lists I also saw the need to expand to include links to scholarships and conferences. I then started writing articles on professional development resources and advice for students. Never in a million years did I think that I would be writing a post on how to start college during a pandemic. With few exceptions most students will be starting their first semester in college 100% online. Whether it be starting as a first year student, a transfer student or a graduate school the challenges that first generation college students and students of color encounter in STEM is even more prominent during a pandemic. Now as I continue to use this medium to support students as they head back to campus this fall I’d like to ask your help.

Changing the Face of STEM

Last week I started an REUFinder Instagram page. The plan is to use this page to let students know about REUFinder as a resource and to feature student experiences. I’d like to highlight student’s words of wisdom, accomplishments and to build community for students. I am looking for students who are willing to share their your wisdom, experiences, favorite mantras, or tips that they have for other students also pursuing STEM Field. Maybe you participated in an experience that you heard about through REUFinder. We’d love to hear from you!

If you would like to be featured in a post please fill out the short form below.

Questions? Contact me at

Thank you in advance for your support. I look forward to seeing your posts. : )

Tiffany Reardon

Quick & Easy Guide To Creating A Student Bio

Good News. You just learned that you have received a scholarship or an award.
Maybe months ago you applied for this scholarship and since you haven’t hear back assumed that you were no longer in the running. But today you received the notification that you won the scholarship! With all that’s been going on in the last few months this glimmer of good news is a bright light on the horizon. The scholarship organization tells you that they’re delighted to give you this award and in order to receive it you need to formally accept it. They ask you for a headshot photo. Check! You’ve got your senior portrait or that brilliant headshot from your cousin’s wedding. They then ask you for a quote. Not a problem you’ve got a favorite quote that you’ve always used. They then as you for a bio! You panic. A Bio!! Not only do they want you to send them a Bio they want you to send it ASAP.

Don’t panic about writing a bio. A short paragraph written in third person is what they are generally asking for.

Use these Elements of a Bio to Easily Create Yours

WHO are You? Essentially your full name. It’s up to you whether or not you want to include your middle name. Also if you have a nickname you might want to include in parenthesis.

WHERE are you from? How you frame this is totally up to you. You might choose to say your from New York or The Bronx it’s completely up to you. However, remember that people like specifics, it makes your bio more memorable. It’s a bio and the point is for people to get to know you. If you’re from a small town you might say “Madera which is a small town in California’s Central Valley.”

WHAT have you done in high school or in college that you believe makes you stand out. Talk about something dynamic that you have done. Chances are this will be what you highlighted in the scholarship essays so feel free to include that in this section. This is not a time to be modest. Remember you’re writing this in third person so don’t worry you’re not going to sound conceited.

As you begin writing your bio you’ll likely begin to feel more confidence talking about your achievements.

WHEN you graduate what do you plan to do after?  For example,  “After receiving (his/her) Bachelor’s degree in (name of major), (Your name) plans to work in (Dream job or industry).”  You can be general or you can be specific. Maybe you want to go to graduate school but don’t know specifically what you want to pursue. You can keep it general and say that you plan to attend graduate school OR if you know what you want to do you can be specific. “After completing her Bachelor’s Degree in (Major) (Your Name) plans to pursue a PhD in (Discipline) focusing on (Sub-discipline).

Some Examples
Discipline: Mechanical Engineering Subdiscipline: Robotics
Discipline: Electrical Engineering Subdiscipline: Integrated Circuits
Discipline: Materials Science Subdiscipline: Biomaterials

The WHY should be embedded into your bio.  Everyone has something that motivates them so talk about that. Not sure what that means well ask yourself WHY? Why are you pursuing this field? Why is this your dream job? What has motivated you to be in school and to pursue these interests.

Once you have answered the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and WHY you have all of the elements of your bio.

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Come On & Zoom!

Happy National Intern Day!   

Summer 2020 is a year like no other. According to a GitHub search more than 200 companies are hosting college interns remotely this summer. Board meetings are now replaced with virtual meetings likely using Zoom.

Check out our tips to maintain a professional image and maximize your Zoom presence in your virtual internships.

1) Use Your Name. Sometimes students will be joining Zoom using their laptops, phones or tablets. Make sure that your Zoom presence says your actual name and the not name of your device. Ideally use your first name and your last name. This makes it helpful specifically if there are others on your team with your same first name.

2) Turn on your camera. Always be sure that your video is on. Out of sight can mean out of mind and you WANT to be noticed during your internship.

3) Have a Zoom Profile Pic. There may be times that you need to turn your camera off so if you do be sure to have a profile picture. A headshot would be a good option.

How to set your profile pic: “Profile Settings. To access your Zoom profile, sign in to the Zoom web portal and click Profile. You can view and edit the following settings: Profile Picture: To add or change your profile picture, click Change, then adjust the crop area on your current picture or upload a new one.”

4) Include your Preferred Gender Pronoun after your name. You may notice that some colleagues will include their preferred gender pronoun in parenthesis after their name. Typically, you might see (he/her), (she/her) or (them/they). This makes it easy for others to know how you would like to be addressed it also promotes an inclusive workspace.

Does your Zoom presence look like this??

5) Use Zoom Backgrounds. If your workspace is a messy room or you’re surrounded by others in the background you might want to consider using a Zoom Background to maintain a professional image. Choose a background that looks professional and isn’t too pixelated. A quick Google search will show you a variety of options. Your Zoom Background should reflect your individual style but not overshadow you! Remember it’s a backdrop, you are the star so be sure you’re not distracting others by having animated backgrounds or even worse backgrounds that could be considered offensive in a professional setting.

6) Don’t forget the importance of good lighting. If you’re in a room that is dark be sure to either use a lamp or try and consider switching to a room with better lighting. Having a dark room is almost the same as not having your camera on since no one can see you.

7) Be sure you have a reliable computer during your internship. If you are interning remotely and are having trouble with sound or your connection let your supervisor know immediately. If you were in person your company would be providing a computer and internet so if you need these things remotely it’s not an unreasonable ask.

8) Dress for success. Even though you might roll out of bed and turn on your computer you don’t want to look that way. Unkept is unbecoming in the workplace even if it is a virtual workplace. Get up an extra half an hour and shower before you hop on Zoom. You’ll look better and feel better.

9) Good Ergonomics are important. Don’t hunch and ideally raise your computer so that the top of your laptop screen is in line with your eyebrows. Using a bunch of textbooks under your laptop is a perfect hack if you don’t have a moveable desk. Long hours in an uncomforable chair will take its toll after a while. If you can invest in an office chair but if that’s not an option put pillows on your chair to support your lower back.

Good ergonomics are important when working from home!

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How to make a statement with your new school email signature

So you’re starting college in the fall whether it be as a first year student, a community college transfer student, or a graduate student you’re likely checking your new school email frequently or should we say you should be checking your email frequently.  With that in mind, this is a great opportunity to start out your communications in a professional way. This will also give your email recipients some context particularly when you are emailing someone for the first time.   Here are some examples that you might consider based on your preferences.  Also, if you have not yet picked your school email address be sure to choose wisely as that’s something you’ll be stuck with for years, literally.  

If your legal name is different than your preferred nick name you might also include in your email signature.

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YouTube Channels for Students created by Students

Now that summer has officially begin for most students this is a great time to check out some new YouTube Channels created for students by students.   

The Tech Twins

Andrew and Mark created their Channel, The Tech Twins to help first generation college students succeed in the tech industry

Twin brothers Andrew and Mark Ansell have put together a YouTube Channel appropriately titled “The Tech Twins.”  Both Andrew and Mark double majored in Mechanical Engineering and Business Administration at the University of California at Berkeley.  During their time at Berkeley they interned at top tech companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Tesla.  Their channel has a wealth of interviews and resources for students everything from creating resumes and obtaining internships to giving a glimpse into what it’s like to Study Abroad.  Whether you’re studying Business or Engineering you’ll definitely want to subscribe and learn from their experiences in the tech world.  Check it out!

Imari Walker Karega

Fun fact: Imari’s latest post is perfect for high school seniors starting college this fall.

Analytical Chemist, Environmental Engineer and Duke PhD student Imari Walker Karega has created a brand new YouTube channel that combines “Education, Weekly Inspiration, and Science.”  Subscribe to Imari’s channel if you’re a high school student looking for advice on applying to colleges, an undergraduate interested in obtaining a PhD or just plain interested in science. If you’re the latter you’ll love her episode on Microplastics. Tune in to hearing about Imari’s journey to the Doctorate and her words of wisdom.  
Check it out!


Fun Fact: Kanoa transferred to UC Berkeley from San Diego Mesa College in San Diego, CA

Recent Chemical Engineering graduate Kanoa Cook has created a YouTube Channel that combines everything from his experience transferring from a community to a university to learning more about vaccines. As an undergraduate student Kanoa interned at top pharmaceutical companies such as Amgen and participated in REU at Louisiana State University and the University of California at San Diego. Subscribers will enjoy Kanoa’s upcoming videos. 
Check it Out!

Alexis Loveraz

When he’s not creating math tutorials Alex is a student a high school student at Harlem Prep High School
in New York City.

Worried that your little brothers and sisters are spending too much time on TikTok?  Don’t worry Alexis Loveraz aka the “Tik Tok tutor” is using his math skills to tutor kids in mathematics and chemistry.  This sixteen year old’s channel is not only entertaining but can save families a ton of money on test prep courses for standardized tests such as the SAT. Check him out on TikTok and YouTube!

Alex on Tik Tok
Alex on YouTube

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Online Summer Experiences

Applying to Graduate School? Looking for an opportunity to learn more about bioinformatics, medical devices, biotech industry, or pharmacy school? Check out these amazing opportunities! Candidates should have a personal computer with reliable internet access. Don’t have Wifi?

Careers Beyond the Bench: Biotech Industry Online Summer Program

“The pharmaceutical and other biomedical industries require an understanding of both business and science to bring lifesaving technologies to market. Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) in Claremont, CA, offers the Careers Beyond the Bench program to provide skills and professional development opportunities for undergraduates interested in careers in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, or other biomedical product industries. The course is entirely online.”

During this challenging and fun three-week summer program, participants will learn about business skills and career opportunities in the biomedical sector, providing an edge for careers beyond the bench in these science-based industries.

Session Dates: 
Session #1: June 15 – July 3
Session #2: July 6 – July 24

Levels: Undergraduates Interested in learning more about the bioscience industry.
Deadline: June 1st for session #1 and June 15th for Session #2

Medical Device Development Bootcamp

Are you interested in learning about the process for designing and manufacturing medical devices. This two week program might be just for you.

Session Dates: 
Session #1: June 15 – June 26
Session #2: July 6 – July 17

Levels: Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors interested in medical devices that are pursuing STEM degrees.
Deadline: June 1st for session #1 and June 15th for Session #2

Clinical Genetics and Bioinformatics Online Summer Program

Are you interested in learning more about human genomics, bioinformatics, genetic counseling and precision medicine? If so, this program might be a good fit for you!

Levels: Undergraduate students
Deadline to Apply: June 12th

Online Pre-Pharmacy Enrichment Summer Program

This five-day online program is designed for students interested in careers in pharmacy. Students will participate in interactive remote classes and activities related to pharmacy practice.

Levels: Undergraduate students & high school seniors thinking about applying to Pharmacy School
Deadline to Apply: June 1st

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“My internship and graduation have been cancelled, now what?”

2020 is a year like no other. It has been tough for all of us but for those of you graduating, whether it be high school graduation or college graduation it’s an even tougher time.  Although many campuses are postponing commencements for a later date, right now it’s just not the same. That feeling of taking your last final of the semester on campus or walking across the stage is a milestone that has been taken away suddenly and with no advance warning.  

The hardest part of all of this is that we simply do not know when things will come back to normal and for now this is our “new normal.”  Because things are so up in the air right now many REU’s and internships are notifying candidates that they might have to cancel programs and rescind offers. If this is your situation you are justifiably disappointed but I urge you the importance of keeping up your momentum. The resilience and forward thinking that got you where you are today will get you through this.  

Keeping up the momentum doesn’t mean you have to ignore what’s going on.  On the contrary, keeping up the momentum means not giving up your academic and career goals.

Many students are worried that Pass/No Pass grades on your spring 2020 transcripts will reflect poorly on graduate school applications or just in general.  Please understand that we are all going through this together.  No one is going to judge you if you struggled this semester.  No one is going to deprive you of an opportunity because you were affected by the pandemic, you are not alone, we are all being affected by this. 

Once this crisis passes, and it will, Class of 2020 graduates will have a bond that will forever tie them together. Postponed commencements, postponed graduation parties, cancelled proms and other cancelled and postponed social milestones will forever be a connection that you have as the Class of 2020.  Millenials and Gen Z’ers have gotten a bad rap since day one but now more than ever we see you and we salute you.

Here are some options and ideas for you to explore to Keep the Momentum during this challenging time! 

  1. If your internship has been cancelled ask if you can work remotely.  Some companies might be able to accommodate this as an option. 

  2. If your REU has been canceled ask if you can contribute to the project in a remote capacity.  Although research in a wet lab might be more of a challenge its worth asking  Graduate students are still doing research so it’s worth asking if you can somehow be involved on a smaller scale. For instance, you can possibly help with modeling simulations or literature reviews.

  3. If you need to find a job and are on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram are using #hiringnow to inform others about job opportunities.

  4. Develop an independent research project. Is there a project you have always wanted to work on? Now is the time.  Ask a faculty member or graduate student if they will be willing to mentor you through this project. 

  5. Take an online class for free. Check out our recommendations for the best free courses to take now

  6. Become an online tutor. Even if classes continue to be online throughout the summer the need for tutors may actually increase. Ask your campus or local community college if they need tutors or teaching assistants for the upcoming summer. 

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