Recently, I took an interview with a PR agency for a post-graduation job oppurtunity. One HR director and four employees in 60 minutes; I was nervous.
Before the interview, I sent the HR director my resume, and the four employees had the oppurtunity to review it and Google me online. After about 10 minutes with the HR director, it was time to meet this first two employees; both account directors for different clients. After initial “hello’s” and “how are you doing?,” the first thing one of the account directors said was, “I really enjoyed reviewing your resume and your website. It was nice to have something other than a resume to see what you’re all about.”
I was automatically thankful that over the past six months I had kept my online portfolio and blog up-to-date.
There are many times we hear from professors, current students, and graduated students from the School of Journalism and Communication mention that having an online presence is huge. Having a website that houses your work puts you ahead of the game, and connecting it your blog is a major plus. Often we find this to be time consuming, especially with all the work we’re constantly doing for our classes, keeping a website up-to-date is difficult.
I get it. Designing the site, reviewing your work before you upload it, and putting just the basics up seems like a weekends worth of time that could be used doing other things that have hard deadlines.
If I told you that one of the reasons I moved forward in my interview process was because of the work presented on my website, would that change your mind about it? I bet it will make you consider it.
I was on the fence about creating my own site for a year, until I heard a similar story from three of my friends who graduated last year. They’re now working for two national PR agencies; the top-dogs of PR agencies.
I’m not saying having a website is going to get you a job. An online portfolio and blog will give an employer more of an insight to see your skillset that may not be all on your resume.
Here are three tips to help you get started with your online portfolio and blog:
1. Utilize the blog writing assignments in your early journalism classes.
Yes, I’m talking about that WordPress blog you had to create in J452, or the guest-student blogs you had to write in a topics class. These are writing samples. Take them seriously, but also take advantage of the opportunity. If you’re anything like me, you’re not a blog writer. Maybe because you don’t like writing blogs or maybe you don’t feel as though you have the time. That’s OK. Classes that freely give you the chance to write a post that will be publishes online is something you should be excited about, not dead.
2. Look at current or graduated students’ websites and blogs for inspiration.
Chances are, many of the assignments you are currently doing has been given to students before you. Not everyone presents themselves the same way. Find inspiration from either online portfolios or blogs on WordPress and Squarespace. Once you can imagine how your website will look, it’s a lot easier to actually see yourself owning one.
3. Grab a few friends to help create the site.
If you don’t have a website because you feel as though you aren’t “creative enough” or you “don’t have design skills,” open your eyes to the peers you’re surrounded by. Many of your friends in the journalism school are talented folks. If you’re struggling with creating the basics of website, and I mean just creating a Wordpress account and becoming familiar with the interface, grab a friend to help show you the ropes. Don’t know how to code or you’re confused on how to get an image on the site? Chances are someone in your class has done it before. Looking for a design guru? Ask an advertising major for some recommendations.
Think of your website being on extension of your personal brand. Your resume can’t tell your entire story. Your online website can.
Abigaelle Mulligan is currently a senior at the University of Oregon, majoring in public relations and minoring in business administration. Upon graduation, she is joining the Grow Marketing Team in San Francisco. She enjoys learning about upcoming digital and experiential marketing and how it affects the public relations and advertising realm.