An e-portfolio can promote and enhance professional success, as illustrated in these examples.
The Writing Center
“From day one, every tutor working in the writing center has an e-portfolio,” says Lauri Dietz, director of the University Center for Writing-based Learning.
“Part of the process of becoming a tutor is learning Digication and making a portfolio in which the student reflects on his or her tutoring philosophy, professional development, and tutoring experiences: ‘Why does one strategy work well in a certain situation – or not work well?’ Keeping a portfolio becomes a form of on-the-job learning, and the exercise makes our students better tutors.
“Each spring, I use the tutors’ portfolios to evaluate their performance and make rehiring decisions. Because of the content in their portfolios, these assessments have substantive meaning; I can give them feedback that includes the kinds of insights that promote growth. Really, the e-portfolios are critical in how our tutors do their jobs and in how I do mine.”
In 2008, the Writing Center was at the front of a push to bring e-portfolios to DePaul. When Digication was introduced as the university’s common platform, the center was ready to provide students and faculty any needed support.
“The making of e-portfolios was already part of our institutional knowledge,” says Dietz. “With Digication, we could add on multi-modal capabilities, which we now think of as rhetorical choices. How do visual images complement text? In our culture, images can mean as much as words. If all we’re teaching students is how to use words to represent themselves, then we’re selling them short.”
Tutors working in the Center value their portfolios as tools of professional development.
“Making an e-portfolio was an interesting way to showcase what I’ve done and what I plan to do,” says Nathalia Oliveira (’13, LAS). “The process made me focus on my goals and on my overall performance. When I built my second portfolio after working at the Center for a while, I could see that my ideas about tutoring had changed; I’d become more focused as various experiences taught me how to deal with different situations. I could compare, contrast, and build on what I had learned. Without a portfolio, my progress would have been less tangible.”
Mia Robidoux (‘12, LAS) agrees that an e-portfolio has substantive value:
“Digication has engaged me in a reflective process of thinking about my ideas and philosophies, about my work in the Center, and about my understanding of how all that applies to my plans for the future. I take this seriously — everything has more weight when it’s published and viewable by the world. This media makes me care about my thoughts and makes me want to be sure of representing my work appropriately. As I transition from being a student to looking for a job and eventually applying to grad school, I want to be able to make it clear that I have the chops to produce great work and to be a motivated employee.”
The Career Center
“A resume alone is becoming inadequate to communicate someone’s worth, especially in a demanding job market,” says Carol Montgomery, director of the Career Center.
“How can our students distinguish themselves? With professional portfolios that can include skills, leadership experiences, work products, and recommendations. An electronic portfolio is so robust — it makes an applicant stand out, even if a potential employer isn’t asking for one. Also, it works effectively on networking sites like LinkedIn. Any student, in any field, can benefit from this.”
The Career Center helps students make e-portfolios using a platform that fits their objectives: a blog (such as Wordpress or Tumblr), a commercial site (such as Wix or Squarespace), Digication, or PowerPoint. In the center’s workshops, in internship courses, and through individual advising, students learn how to create a portfolio, what should go in one, and how to showcase their skills in the best possible way.
“As a society, we’re moving toward increased visual literacy; people can take in visuals faster,” says Montgomery. “An electronic portfolio is a great medium for saying to an employer, ‘I’m a great hire — here’s what I can do for you, here’s how I’d fit in your organization, here are my particular skills and aptitudes.’ A portfolio gives the candidate a personality.”
Stephanie Colpo (MA ’13, College of Communication) built an e-portfolio before landing a job with Gibbs and Soell, a mid-sized public relations agency in Chicago. “An e-portfolio is the way to go today. I was applying for an internship, sent in my portfolio, and then during the interview explained my samples — the company offered me a junior account executive position! Clearly, the portfolio did a good job presenting my strengths and experience: for example, I was able to include a page dedicated to my leadership skills. PR is such a competitive field; an e-portfolio makes a job candidate stand out as serious and dedicated.”
Dakarai Turner (’13, College of Communication) used his e-portfolio to document an internship at NBC. “I had never created a portfolio and didn’t understand its value until I started see its practicality. With an electronic portfolio, it’s very easy to show potential employers your work: mine includes print and video samples (via a link to YouTube). In my industry, personality counts, and that comes through in an electronic portfolio. I think mine sets me apart and puts me that much further ahead in the game.”