Successful strategies to incorporate and highlight your Model UN experience into your professional résumé.
The following article was written by Frank Pobutkiewcz, a Model UN veteran of Boston University and founder of College Apprentice (http://collegeapprentice.com), a study-travel company that organizes honor delegations to international conferences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The experience Model UN can provide a student, in high school or college, is invaluable. Soft skills such as time management, leadership, flexibility, and adaptability are complemented by a range of hard skills that could include commercial printing, management budgeting, graphic design, curriculum design, and research. After reading, reviewing, and writing more résumés and applications than I can remember, I’m struck by how many Model UN alumni find it difficult to translate their experience effectively into a résumé. Here are some quick, actionable suggestions to make sure your résumé or application properly conveys your experience.
Avoid jargon whenever possible.
Model United Nations has a language onto itself. While it is important for you to use terms such as Secretary General, draft resolution, background guide, and crisis director in the world of Model UN, it is almost more important to effectively translate MUN-lingo into understandable language. You may be extremely proud of your time as Secretary General, but the title generally confuses people outside of the world of Model UN. You do not want people to think you were the head secretary. Go through your résumé and replace any of the following terms or words; I’ve provided substitutes that I have used in the past:
|Secretary General||Chief Executive|
|Director General||Executive VP/ Operations Director/ Business Manager|
|Background Guide||Research Paper|
|Crisis Director||Research Analyst|
|Chair||Director or Moderator|
|Head Delegate||Debate Captain or Coach|
|USG…Finance, Operations, etc||Chief [Finance, Operations, etc] Officer|
|Chargé d’affaires||Communication Director|
|Committee||Breakout session or Simulation|
|Delegate||Student, Participant, Debater|
|Best Delegate, Outstanding Delegate, Honorable Mention, Verbal||First Place, Second Place, Honorable Mention, Verbal Commendation|
|Delegation Award||Team Award|
Do not abbreviate.
Similar to the first point, it may be very tempting to include abbreviations such as SG, GA, ECOSOC, DISEC, EU, MUN, or even Model UN. Don’t. You will either confuse your reviewer or come off as pretentious by assuming your reviewer understands what your abbreviations mean. If you cannot avoid Model United Nations jargon all together, have the courtesy to spell out the terms you do use. Most likely, the words “Model UN” will appear on your résumé, but don’t assume people know what that means. Always use Model United Nations and be prepared to explain the nature of the activity during an interview. When describing Model UN, use phrases such as “simulation based education,” “active learning,” or “experiential learning.”
There is one exception to the above rules and that is when you are applying to a position that involves Model UN and you are 100% confident your reviewer will understand Model UN terms. In this case, it is probably preferred that you use Model UN jargon.
Position Your Experience under “Experience” or “Academic Projects”
The experience you gain during your Model UN career may be your strongest personal selling point. Don’t undersell yourself by listing your Model UN experience under “co-curricular activities.” Sections like this are usually glossed over or, at best, used as interview conversation. Be proud of your accomplishments and highlight them in the proper résumé sections.
For chairs, moderators, crisis directors, or even delegates, the most applicable section for you to describe your experience is under an “Academic Project” heading. USGs of Committee can also highlight their work here, depending on the remainder of their résumé. If you do not have one, an Academic Project portion of your résumé emphasizes the scholastic elements of Model UN and is particularly helpful if your “Experience” section is already heavily padded.
Describing Your Experience Effectively
Now that you’ve removed Model UN jargon from your résumé and positioned it correctly, it is time to review the content and description of your experience. Very often, résumé statements are called “Accomplishment Statements” or “S.T.A.R. statements.” (I won’t go into how to construct these statements in detail but I encourage you to research them if you have never heard of them before.)
Make sure to write effective accomplishment statements for your Model UN experience, just as you would any internship or job-related work. Here are three quick tips:
- Stress improvement, especially year-over-year, by incorporating the appropriate figures and percentages. For example, if you are a head delegate (write: Debate Coach or Captain) you may write something like this:
Coached 24 undergraduate students in advanced debate rhetoric by holding weekly training sessions resulting in a 250% increase in individual awards compared to previous year;
- Use appropriate numbers to stress the scale of your operation. Annual revenue, profit margins, and number of participants give employers and schools a better sense of your experience.
Implemented marketing and recruitment procedures that streamlined registration online and increased revenue 20% to $200,000 for 2013 conference;
- Remember to include the hard skills you have obtained. Most résumés boast soft skills such as time management and leadership skills. Complete a skills inventory and you may be surprised of your own talents. Match skills that relate to the position for which you are applying. Here are some common hard skills many people overlook when reviewing their Model UN careers: budgeting, financial projections, staff and volunteer management, graphic design, publication design, commercial printing, website design/programming, copywriting, research, document preparation, proofreading/editing, event management, public speaking, email composition, and presentation skills.
Hopefully now you can review your résumé, translate it for the rest of the non-MUN world, organize it to showcase your talents, and effectively describe your experience. Avoiding simple and common pitfalls will go a long way towards improving whatever application you are working on, whether for college or employment. Remember to be proud of your Model UN experience! You’ve acquired a broad range of skills, the difficult part is to condense it into one page and hopefully this guide can help.