Creative Internet resume lands Wharton student ticket to Silicon Valley

As the academic year winds down, one enterprising University of Pennsylvania student will be heading to a Silicon Valley startup.

Junior Alice Lee studies at the Wharton School of Business. In the fall, when recruiters from big companies were on campus to interview students, Lee laid low.

She intends to end up at an Internet startup.

Around the time recruiting wrapped up, she put together a website, “Dear Instagram,” introducing herself and her resume to the company behind a popular photo app for smartphones.

“When it comes to getting a job at a startup, it’s kind of like you can afford to be a little more creative and do weird things and take risks that like might not pay off and might pay off,” Lee says.

Internet resumes aren’t brand new, but Lee’s caught the attention of the tech community and went viral online. She made the site colorful and cheerfully informal. A sidebar says the page was designed within the span of two and a half days, four skipped classes, and several bowls of Ramen.

Of course, as a resume, it’s a little out of the ordinary.

Gerrit Hall and Sean Weinberg have read some 5,000 resumes apiece. (“And that’s just this morning,” jokes Hall.)

The two created an online platform, RezScore, to grade resumes. When Alice Lee’s resume goes through, it gets an “F.” 

Hall says it just doesn’t look much like a resume, though he adds, “It’s beautiful. Especially for a designer — or [someone] trying to get a position as a designer, she is entirely showing off her design skills just through the fantastic visual representation.”

Weinberg has suggested tweaks. Certain text could be darker, he says.

“This resume is very ‘me focused.’ It ends up getting to the stuff I want to hear — this is what I’ve done, this is what I can do for you,” says Weinberg. “But her introduction is ‘I’m a huge fan of Instagram.'”

Weinberg says, with a minor in computer science, and good credentials, Lee won’t have trouble getting a job — though he understands why she’d want to stick out to a hot tech company.

He says, however, the tried-and-true route has its merits. Both Weinberg and Hall say she would definitely get an interview at RezScore

As it happens, the summer job Lee’s headed to isn’t at Instagram. She had some phone conversations with the tiny company’s founder, but they fizzled out last month around the time Facebook acquired the company for a billion dollars.

Still, when her letter to Instagram took off on the Web, it opened a lot of doors. She will spend the summer at Path, a wannabe Facebook alternative that has gained attention as a way to share information with a more select group of friends.

The resume site helped, Lee says.

“The traditional things that people do require a very formal approach to your cover letter and resume — like if I wrote. ‘What’s up, Morgan Stanley?’ I would not be hired at all,” Lee says. “But why not showcase your creativity?”

Lee says peers ask if they should build a resume site. She usually tells them to try something impressive in their own field.

This article has been updated to reflect the fact that student Alice Lee is completing a minor, not a major, in computer science. Her principal area of study at the Wharton School is marketing.

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