Sarah Xu and Kami Pullakhandam are two rising seniors at Duke. They met freshman year in Alspaugh and have been friends ever since. They created the Duke Anti-Resume Project in Spring 2021.
By the end of our first semester at Duke, we knew that there were flaws in Duke’s culture of effortless perfection. But we never thought we could do anything about it. If anything, we were both part of the system and perpetuating it: sacrificing our well-being for grades, feeling like our worth was dependent on whether or not we got an internship, letting go of valuable social time in exchange for grueling hours spent studying.
Inspired by the Anti-Resume Project at the University of Pennsylvania, we realized that there were ways to help people think differently about how they define success and value themselves. Through the Duke Anti-Resume Project, we aim to celebrate the successes that don’t end up on resumes and help people know they’re not alone when things don’t work out as planned. This past semester, we asked Duke students, faculty, and alumni to submit “Anti-Resumes” where they answered prompts about who they are outside of their resumes. Prompts included “Memories I made when I wasn’t studying or working”, “Everyday L’s”, and “Things I learned that will still matter in 10 years.”
We created a website to showcase the Anti-Resumes and spread the word about the project through our project Instagram and speaking to student groups. We published the Anti-Resumes on April 22nd and have had over 1,000 unique visitors to our website. It was especially rewarding to see messages thanking us for doing the project and to hear about students who reached out to those who submitted Anti-Resumes to thank them for sharing their experiences.
The Anti-Resume Project is not only an initiative to change the conversation about struggles at Duke, but is also our personal commitment to valuing ourselves beyond our resumes. By creating this project, we are able to dedicate time in our days to the lesson of “you are more than just what you do.” The project helped us realize that sometimes going out with friends is more important than studying an extra few hours, that experiences are just as valuable as achievements.
In the future, we hope to expand the initiative through countless other projects and publishing more Anti-Resumes from the Duke community. We want to thank the Academic Guides program and Professor George Grody for their support of the Anti-Resume Project, as well as all the people who submitted Anti-Resumes and contributed to our message.