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Bringing Students On Board for Portfolios

A Q&A with Chelsea Goza

Henderson State University wants every student to have a job offer before graduation. A big part of their strategy in approaching that ideal is including career-building skills and tools — like portfolios — in the curriculum. Here, CT learns more about Henderson's portfolio plans from Chelsea Goza, who is the director of internships in the School of Business and assistant director of Henderson's Center for Student Excellence.

group of college students

"Ideally, we would like to see every Henderson State University student receive a job offer before reaching his or her graduation date." — Chelsea Goza

Mary Grush: You've said that "Henderson State University is dedicated to helping students not only learn, but learn how to build their careers." Could you tell me more about HSU's emphasis on empowering students with career-building skills, and where that priority comes from?

Chelsea Goza: At Henderson State University, we are striving to build a culture centered on career development. We believe that strong academics plus career opportunities for students equals success. Ideally, we would like to see every Henderson State University student receive a job offer before reaching his or her graduation date.

I personally believe that this priority of empowering students with career-building skills originates from our university motto, "The School with a Heart." We are passionate about seeing our students succeed and accomplish their goals, and we genuinely care about their futures.

Henderson State University is dedicated to helping students not only learn, but learn how to build their careers.

Grush: What are some of the skills for career development in today's world, and how does the university offer students the tools they need for this?

Goza: In regards to career-building skills that are applicable in today's world, we often teach our students to establish a competitive advantage. What sets them apart from their competition? We encourage students to further develop their transferrable and soft skills while also preparing them to develop a sustainable job application packet and practice proper interview techniques.

At the Henderson State University School of Business, we provide career development education through our Center for Student Excellence. Through the Center, we offer a series of 1-hour classes each semester to all business students. Typically, the first two classes are taken during a student's freshman year, and the last two classes are taken during a student's sophomore year. The curriculum for the classes is designed to instruct students on professionalism, skills assessment, job application packet creation, and mock interview practice. After completing the series of classes, students are highly encouraged to participate in internships.

Because we have seen much success through our Center for Student Excellence model, we are now in the process of developing an online learning tool through our learning management system so that we can provide the same educational resources to the entire Henderson State University student population.

Grush: Is it your plan, then, to emphasize portfolio skills throughout the curriculum at HSU?

Goza: Yes. As a part of our instruction for job application packet creation, we teach students to develop an electronic portfolio. In addition, we teach students how to best package the electronic portfolio on their resumes and link their portfolio to other sites appropriately.

Grush: What is your portfolio platform?

Goza: Portfolium is the platform that we use. We present Portfolium to all freshman students during freshman orientation each fall semester. We also present Portfolium curriculum through the series of 1-hour business classes and through Canvas online learning.

Our goal is to ensure first that our students understand the purpose and value of the system. Then, we focus on making sure that students build portfolios that showcase their greatness.

portfolium onboarding rates

Courtesy Henderson State University

Grush: Are you able to integrate portfolio tools into your learning management system?

Goza: Since the merger of Portfolium and Canvas, we have been able to integrate tools into the learning management system. We are excited to have the opportunities to use both systems for assessment purposes. Also, the integration allows for a more seamless onboarding process for students.

Grush: Are you able to offer students badges or use other credentialing systems students can work with as they create their portfolios?

Goza: Yes, we have currently created 2 badges through Portfolium, and we are in the process of creating 4 additional badges. The opportunity to provide students with a way of earning and showcasing specific credentials is phenomenal.

Our goal is to ensure first that our students understand the purpose and value of the system. Then, we focus on making sure that students build portfolios that showcase their greatness.

Grush: It may be too early in your portfolio program to have much feedback yet from employers — but do you have any sense of how receptive they will be as they begin to receive student portfolios?

Goza: While we have not yet reached the moment of sharing our student portfolios with employers, we are excited about the opportunity to do so.

Our plan is to focus first on educating our students and encouraging them to create strong Portfolium profiles. Once we have an adequate percentage of our student population with Portfolium profiles, we will provide an invitation to contacts from our employer database so that potential employers can view our students' portfolios, and we can assist our students with obtaining a job offer before reaching their graduation date. With that being said, we have had numerous conversations with employers and community stakeholders about the opportunities of Portfolium, and the response has been extremely positive.

Grush: How would you characterize student expectations for portfolio systems? Are they eager to come on board to portfolios?

Goza: In regards to the students' ability to learn and navigate the platform, students find it to be extremely simple. Initially, they often compare Portfolium to other social media sites. Therefore, their familiarity with other social media sites makes creating and editing a Portfolium profile easy. Our goal as instructors, though, is to ensure that the students know how to best create their portfolio so that it showcases their professional abilities in the most effective way.

Students at HSU are excited about the opportunity to use Portfolium. From the beginning, we have been dedicated to educating students on the purpose and value of Portfolium. We want our students to understand that bridging the skills awareness gap is important for their futures. As a result, students are happily taking the necessary steps to build great portfolios.

[Editor's note: A workshop segment video from a recent Portfolium User Group meeting features Chelsea Goza and other presenters from HSU telling "Our Portfolium Story" in detail. A wealth of additional relevant material about portfolio/LMS integration is offered on Instructure's Web site.]

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