Advice for college journalists: Online portfolios

In Uncategorized on April 27, 2008 at 2:47 pm

Over the past few years, I’ve watched dozens of classmates and friends wait until the last moment possible to prepare for the big job search after graduation.

Now, I’m not talking about the job search itself; it’s bad enough waiting until the the day before a graduation ceremony for a student to start thinking about looking for the start of their career (and, yes, I’ve actually seen this happen).

Time and time again, I’ve watched people my age try and fail to find industry jobs because they never took the time to build their portfolios. And, in this internet age, there is simply no excuse not to have a large body of clips to choose from when the time comes to dip into them.

Here are some tips to build up your portfolio before you’re expected to spread your wings and fly into the future on your own.

Start your own blog.

Many industry leaders advocate buying your own web space. While this is a good idea, it’s hardly necessary for poor college students with little means. Instead, think about getting a Blogger blog if you’re a blog newcomer or upgrading to WordPress if you already know the ins and outs of posting. The programs are free, and you can give potential employers a link, so they can check out your clips. It also gives you the freedom to choose what you write, and with WordPress you can easily add pages, which allows you to add items like your online resume and portfolio. There is also a new social networking blog site called Uber I just checked out, and it looks like it might be an even better arena for students looking to work with design.

Don’t let HTML and CSS intimidate you.

Okay, I admit most HR people think students in our generation could build a webpage in our sleep. Here’s a secret: I wasn’t even blogging until Fall 2007. I didn’t know anything about HTML, and WordPress was over my head when I started. Take baby steps if you’re worried about the technology involved. Blogger is very user friendly, and if you pick up a few HTML tags while using it, soon you’ll be ready to move on to bigger and better things. With the blogging software available today, you shouldn’t have too much trouble figuring things out.

Write for newspapers and magazines.

Chances are, they’ll post your content on the web. Then, all you have to do is link to their site. Just check your links often, so you don’t have an interested employer navigating to a dead page.

These are actually good tips for any kind of writer, whether it be a budding conventional journalist, a blogger, or even a novelist or poet. If you have any suggestions on more sites students can use to build a portolio, please let me know.

  1. […] the University of South Florida, Wendy Withers offers the Carnival a post with some great “Advice for college journalists: Online portfolios.” Wendy has always offered some great insights (it has a spot in my reader) and this post is […]

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