3 Ways To Build Your CV During Grad School

November, 2010 · By Justin Bengry

A curriculum vitae, or CV, is not a resumé.

(Recommended reading: When it comes to grad school, what’s the difference between a resumé and a CV?)

Rather than being a list of your work achievements, it documents academic and intellectual development.

One of the most important elements on your CV will be your publications. Articles in scholarly journals and edited collections by other authors are the most valuable.

It is a record of your scholarly activities and an advertisement of your skills. Like your resumé, you will include information about your education and employment.

For grad students, this often focuses on teaching assistantships (TAships) and teaching opportunities, research assistantships (RAships), and other employment that relates to academic studies.

But there are three distinct areas you will want to build on your CV during grad school. In my own CV I’ve worked hard to expand sections on conferences, publications, and a range of extra-curricular activities.


One of the easiest ways to beef up your CV is to present papers at academic conferences. Initially, these could be local or regional graduate student conferences.

Grad conferences are a great way to ease into public presentations with strong support from colleagues and other grad students. However, once you’re comfortable, make sure you start presenting on panels at professional conferences in your field.

Besides the obvious networking and profile benefits, every time you present a paper at a conference, it ads a line to your CV. The higher the profile of the conference, the stronger it looks. And attending conferences in different regions and countries will show up on your CV as broad engagement with scholars across the world in your field. If your paper takes any awards or honours, you can also add to your CV.

In addition to formal conference papers, your CV can also include invited talks, panels, and anywhere else you appear as a speaker. If you give a guest lecture in a course as a TA, you can use that too!


One of the most important elements on your CV will be yourpublications. For most grad students, this section remains relatively small until you are more advanced in your program.

Articles in scholarly journals and edited collections by other authors are the most valuable, but there are other opportunities to publish pieces relevant to your studies.

Book reviews are a great way to beef up your CV.

Leading academic journals use experts in a particular field to review books, but smaller journals, online journals, and graduate journals are all good places to contact about writing reviews.

They allow you to write about the newest books in your area of study without doing extra research.

You also get free books!

In the cases of both conferences and publications, it’s OK to list confirmed activities as forthcoming even though they haven’t happened or been published yet.


When it comes to grad school, extra-curricular activities are still valuable, but are used to demonstrate something different than on a resumé. While it’s always a good idea to show that you are a well-rounded individual skilled at both scholarly and non-academic activities, you will also want to use your extra-curricular activities to reinforce strong impressions of yourself as a scholar.

If you study digital humanities, you can highlight blogging activities and online publishing.  If your work in public history, volunteering with local historical agencies and sites is an obvious overlap. For those whose work relates to race, class, or gender, work or volunteering with labour groups, women’s groups, or humanitarian organizations can bolster your experience as well.

Service in the form of departmental and campus activities will also help to demonstrate your commitment to your institution, department, and colleagues in ways that could be helpful for scholarship, TA, and job committees down the road.

This post was originally published at TalentEgg on 8 November 2010.