CHARLESTON, S.C. (Oct. 19, 1995)--A new job search tool implemented by the Assistant Director of Career Services at The Citadel, Brent Stewart, is proving advantageous for local students, displaced military personnel, and those in a career transition. Inspired by the portfolios used by artists and photographers, Stewart conceived the academic and professional portfolio for job applicants.
Described by one student as "a resume come to life," the portfolio is comprised of a one-inch thick binder containing research projects, letters of recommendation, internship reports, detailed descriptions of previous employment, and any visual samples of skills and experience. Engineers, for example, might include design work in their portfolios, whereas English students might present research essays and writing samples.
In addition to highlighting an individual's work or academic history, the portfolio itself showcases transferable skills such as organization, computer graphics, and word processing. An interviewee may even find an opportunity to give a brief presentation based on the portfolio, allowing the prospective employer to better judge communication skills.
"The portfolio helps reduce the uncertainty associated with hiring an individual," Stewart says, "and employers find this risk reduction appealing."
Reports from those who have used portfolios in interviews echo this sentiment. Every Citadel graduate who presented an academic portfolio to an employer last year was called back for a second interview and most were offered jobs. Some employers report that when faced with a field of otherwise equally qualified applicants, they choose the candidate who brings a portfolio to the interview because it reveals ambition and a willingness to go the extra mile. "Recruiters see the portfolio as a way for students to distinguish themselves from their competitors," Stewart says.
By forming an unprecedented alliance with The Citadel Writing Center and several academic departments, the Career Services office at the military college is sharing this innovation with Lowcountry residents. As part of this effort The Writing Center is currently expanding its free resume instruction to include information on creating portfolios. The Writing Center's director, Angela Williams, also teaches the portfolio in a career development workshop designed for local armed forces personnel. In addition, Williams has begun to provide portfolio instruction for MUSC students.
As a result of The Citadel's influence, several other universities across the nation have begun to research and establish portfolio workshops. The Citadel's academic and professional portfolio project received an honorable mention for innovation in teaching in 1994 from the Southern Business Administration Association. Sheila Foster, a professor at The Citadel, recently presented a paper co-authored with Brent Stewart on the advantages of portfolios in London at the Academy of Business Administration's 1995 International Conference. Representatives of The Citadel have also presented the portfolio method of interviewing at the National Peer Tutor Conference in Birmingham and the National Writing Across the Curriculum Conference in Charleston.
Anyone in the job market interested in learning more about academic and professional portfolios should contact Brent Stewart at Career Services, The Citadel, (803) 953-1617.