Late summer, 2013: I graduated from a respected New England college with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, a high GPA, and a relatively solid resume consisting of a handful of internships and various part-time jobs I’d held throughout college. I even had study abroad experience. So, truth be told, I was pretty confident that when I moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area, I would have no problem finding a job that would set me on my choice career path.
Such arrogance… Such naivete…
According to the Economy Policy Institute, the current unemployment rate for new college graduates is somewhere around 8.5 percent, with the underemployment rate at 16.8 percent. Picture thousands of graduates sitting on their parents’ sofas and revising their resume again, desperately searching for the words to describe the critical thinking skills they learned at that internship, wondering if knowing the correct definition of Occam’s Razor really is as useless as they fear. Meanwhile, they are pouring lattes and waiting tables for the very people who rejected their applications.
In my case, I had what I thought was a great resume, and I knew I could write a decent cover letter, so why couldn’t I even get an interview? If I got the interview, I would get a polite rejection that usually cited a lack of experience in the field.
“How can I get experience,” I railed to my friend one day, “if I can’t even get an entry-level job?” He worked for Pathbrite, and he told me to consider creating a digital portfolio to supplement my resume.
“Resumes are boring,” he told me, “Nobody cares about your resume. Show them something they’ll actually want to look at.”
I had nothing to lose. Soon after this conversation, I went onto the site, created a free account, and started to reflect. I uploaded photos and documents, linked videos I had created or worked on from YouTube and Vimeo, and soon found myself constructing an interactive narrative of my experiences
Photos from my internship at Disneyland were coupled with in-depth descriptions of the customer service skills I honed there. Full, half-hour episodes of the cable-access TV show I created at my second internship were viewable directly within my portfolio and juxtaposed with a description of the entire process of creating a television show.
My role as location and talent scout for a student documentary in London became that much more compelling when viewers could watch the documentary right there in its entirety, actually seeing some of the marvelous locations I found and listening to the people I recruited for the project. Academic work from my courses, such as mock advertisements, research papers, and animations were attractively displayed in their own category with explanations of the goals achieved and lessons learned.
Creating the portfolio revealed my skills, experiences, and knowledge in a three-dimensional, multimedia format, providing actual evidence of everything I had discussed in my resume and establishing a complete and persuasive summation of my professional and academic experience.
I’d love to say that every position I applied to with my portfolio offered me a job. That’s not what happened. What did happen was that I found an opportunity, which turned into an interview, which, in fact, turned into a job. Creating a portfolio alone will not get you a job, but it will allow you to position yourself in a compelling and persuasive way that a one-dimensional resume simply can’t compete with. My point is, do your career a favor: create a portfolio that reveals what you uniquely have to offer. Take control of how prospective employers will see you. Realize your opportunities.
With Pathbrite, students can create a digital portfolio that will help them display their mastery and talents by telling visual stories that display their passions, strengths, talents, and more. Encourage your students to register for a free Pathbrite account and try it out for themselves!
Pathbrite will also be integrated into Cengage Learning’s MindTap, allowing students to demonstrate completion of assignments for graduation, accreditation and job placement, and enabling instructors to review student progress.
Have you, or your students, had any experience creating a digital portfolio for career or educational purposes? Discuss them in the comments.
Want to see a sample digital portfolio? Below, see screenshots from Katie McPhee’s own, presented in Pathbrite.