NABJ Student Representative Wesley Lowery and convention planners Benet Wilson and Monique Fields asked me to lead a "learning lab" we titled "Branding U: The Student Edition." It's an honor and privilege to present at NABJ so I quickly said yes. The convention program promised: "Sending a resume and cover letter through the mail is so yesterday. Job seekers need an electronic portfolio. This three-hour workshop will give participants strategies for using cutting-edge applications to develop a virtual resume. The session also will offer tips for using Twitter and Facebook to promote a brand, and on creating an action plan that will have recruiters banging on the door."
Basically, I sought to share what I strive to teach my journalism students in the Diederich College of Communication. My presentation focused on, among other things, blogging, digital portfolios, social media profiles, live tweeting and curating, melding personal and professional and networking. I stressed that they all must take advantage of the many ways to demonstrate electronically – preferably from one hyperlink! – their success at telling stories across multiple platforms. I also wanted to inspire them to share what they learned with their friends at school who couldn't attend.
Two points: 1) The Law of Magnetism (from John Maxwell) – Who You Are Is Who You Attract! and 2) from me, trying to capture the recruiter's mindset, How You Represent You Is How You Will Represent Me!
After my presentation, three newsroom recruiters shared awesome tips on how students and graduates can distinguish themselves and best get an interview and or that first or next opportunity. Speaking of digital portfolios, Irv Harrell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch told the students, emphasizing my second point above, "It's your mission statement to the recruiter. I want to know what you're going to be able to do for me." Walter Middlebrook of the Detroit News said: "You got 60 seconds to make an impression on someone. If I don't like what I see in 60 seconds, you've lost a sale." Paula Bouknight of the Boston Globe added that "your website should be where you further the conversation," that is, it should not merely offer what is already on or better suited for a LinkedIn profile.
I hope during the summer to offer new posts on this blog that focus on other aspects of my presentation. For now, I invite students (and faculty) everywhere to check out these prior posts: "Covering the Student Cover Letter" and "119 Tips for Journalism Interviews." Many thanks to all the students who said they got a lot out of my presentation.