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How Can a Summer Certificate Program Boost an Undergraduate Resume?

Aug 4, 2022
What a summer certificate program says to employers and graduate schools

By Arial Starks

While undergraduate students may not have extensive work experience to showcase on their resumes, one way to show graduate schools and employers that you have the skills and experience they are looking for is by participating in summer certificate programs like Vanderbilt’s Accelerator® Summer Business Immersion program. Cherrie Wilkerson, Assistant Dean for Young Professional Programs, and Jon Lehman, Faculty Director, Executive Education, offer their insight on the impact a summer certificate program can have on your resume.  

Jon Lehman

Completing a summer certificate program shows career intentionality

Summer certificate programs are not a requirement for students looking to enter business school or impress a potential employer, but they do show that you value education and aren’t afraid to go the extra mile to be successful. Lehman notes that making the investment in a certificate program like Accelerator® shows a student’s intentions and demonstrates career clarity. 

“I think it validates for them if this is the path they want to be on,” he says. “A lot of students who come into our program don’t have much business experience at all, so they get a taste of it and figure out ‘hey is this something I’m interested in or not.’” 

Certificate programs give students key skills to add to their resumes

Cherrie Wilkerson

Students may not have many business skills when they enter a summer certificate program, but they are often able to walk away from one with a polished resume. Through projects and assignments, students are learning fundamental business principles while developing key skills like networking, teamwork, and leadership. 

Since certificate programs usually last 2 or 3 weeks, they tend to pack in as much content as possible, creating a transformative experience.  Cherrie Wilkerson reflects on  how some students enter the Accelerator program reserved and shy and leave a few weeks later as confident young professionals.

“It gives them a jump start for jobs, because in Accelerator, we put a lot of focus on career coaching,” Wilkerson says. “Coaches from our Career Management Center spend a lot of time with them, so they have a polished resume, know how to present, learn to dress professionally, and essentially walk and talk in ways that exemplify maturity to potential employers or schools looking to admit them.” 

Vanderbilt’s Accelerator program provides students with real world experience 

What sets Accelerator apart from other certificate programs is the opportunity for students to apply what they learn throughout the program. Over the course of 21 days, Accelerator students work with 3 different companies on business challenges and present business solutions to each of them. Each week, students research and collect data on these companies, strategize solutions in teams, and present their  findings and ideas  to the companies. 

Wilkerson emphasizes how the feedback-rich environment sets students up for success in the long run. “All of our students want to go into some kind of problem-solving industry, whether it’s in investment banking, corporate, or non-profits,” she says. “Accelerator teaches them what their future bosses and/or clients are looking for and how they will review their results. If we get them in the mindset of showing the data, doing the research, and presenting it in a compelling way, that works for every single career and field that the students will go into.”

To learn more about how Accelerator Summer Business Immersion benefits students, click here.

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