Foliotek Blog

New Partnership Announced!

alt Our recent partnership with Pearson and the University of North Texas is taking our mission of 'growing competent, passionate professionals' to the next level! With the combination of Pearson's Career Success Program, the GRIT Gauge™ and Foliotek's digital portfolio platform, students are guided through a process of connecting their academic and co-curricular activities with marketable job skills.

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The content of Pearson's Career Success Program is delivered through Foliotek Activity Groups, where students can monitor their progress through the available modules while completing assignments, projects, and quizzes. As modules are completed, students develop their personal brand and gain an appealing way to showcase their skills to potential employers.

Click HERE to read Pearson's full press release.


Starting Strong

It's finally here … your first semester of college. Supposedly, the past four years of high school have been preparing you for this very moment. When it comes to starting college, chances are someone will say that you should start strong…maybe you're even telling yourself to start strong. Talk of 'strong starts' is everywhere: business, sports, diet, fitness, and education. For instance, when starting a new franchise or multi-level marketing business, there is almost always a 'strong start' program that encourages (and rewards) folks to build success quickly. Even sports teams talk about starting the season strong and how the first several games can set the tone for the rest of the season. Many people talk about starting strong, but is it really that important? Specifically, does the way we start our first semester of college really have an impact on the rest of our college career?

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Michigan State University dug into this exact question. It turns out that your academic performance during your first semester of college is a decent indicator of how likely you will graduate. Their research showed that students who have a GPA of 2.0 or lower their first semester of freshman year have a less than 40% graduation rate, compared to MSU's overall 80% graduation rate. That means if you do relatively well your first semester you are TWICE as likely to graduate than if you were to fall into academic probation. So, while you don't need a 4.0 your first semester to make it to graduation, there IS value in taking your first semester seriously.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

If starting strong is important after all, how do you have a strong first semester? In the famous words of Benjamin Franklin, "by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail". But don't only take his word for it (although you probably could … he was a pretty smart guy), a survey by Palo Alto Software found that companies were twice as likely to succeed if they had a business plan. The same concept can be applied to your college career. So, what should you include in your plan for the first semester of college? There is a lot of great information out there if you search for "Tips for college success". Here are several I found especially noteworthy that apply not only to college, but post-graduation as well:

1. Take Responsibility
You're not going to earn your diploma if you don't work for it. While other people do play vital roles and can influence your success, at the end of the day YOU have to put in the effort. This includes going to class, taking steps to build good study habits, and doing your homework. If you're struggling academically, take the initiative to seek out help. Reach out to other classmates, utilize online resources or campus resources like a writing center, and take advantage of professor's office hours.

2. Invest in Good Relationships
It's inevitable: you're going to face challenges. Surround yourself with people who will have your back and provide the encouragement needed to make it through the tough times, and do the same for them. When there is tension in your friendships, learn how to resolve conflict. You're not always going to agree with your friends and you will most likely hurt each other in some way. If they are a friend worth having, don't let pettiness win … address the situation and move forward. It's a good life skill to have.

3. Strike a Balance
While anything worth doing requires hard work, have some fun too. Prioritize your responsibilities so your academics don't suffer, but also carve out some time in your schedule for a little fun. Go to football games and social events, hang out with your friends and family, do something you like to do (walk, hike, read, watch movies, play music). Whatever you like to do for fun, just make sure it's balanced with your other responsibilities. If you can figure out how to find this balance in college, you will be well on your way to developing a good work-life balance for your future career as well.

Add a comment below to share your own tips for a successful first semester!


Promoting Student Leadership

What if we lived in a world where college students were so engaged in their programs and degrees that they encouraged their peers to become successful, professional individuals? Where the stereotype of 'lazy millennials' was completely debunked? Where students become leaders who take control of their education, enhancing their own campus using real-world experiences? Impossible, you say? False. This world does exist: it's the William Isaac and Michael Oxley Center for Business Leadership in the Farmer School of Business at Miami University.

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(Pictured: Mollie, Noah (Qualtrics Survey Team Lead), and Emma)

The Center for Business Leadership (The Center) gives business students (fellows) hands-on leadership experience through a paid internship, financially supported by either The Center or a Sponsor Company. Fellows are called to work on purposeful projects, called initiatives, that are designed to improve The Center and the school as a whole. One of The Center's Co-Directors, Megan Gerhardt, tells us that these initiatives allow the fellows to be involved in meaningful work that relates directly to their business degrees while also contributing to their own professional development.

The Center recognized a need to showcase this work to both the Sponsors and future employers, but also wanted a tool that allowed students to reflect on their growth. This resulted in the Leadership Portfolio Initiative. Several platforms were researched and tested by the fellows to find the right fit. They needed a product that looked professional and created a consistent brand for all students, but was also quick and easy to design. The Center decided that Foliotek struck the appropriate balance. Two students were responsible for implementing the Foliotek Initiative: Mollie Etgen, who served as the team lead, and her co-leader, Emma Ciesick . Mollie, a senior majoring in Management Leadership, has secured a position as an Operations Manager for a Target Distribution Center. Emma is in her junior year, majoring in Marketing with a minor in Business Analytics. She has landed a summer internship with Fifth Third Bank’s Consumer Leadership Program.

"It's the first time I've been in a student organization and I'm actually able to lead something I'm genuinely passionate about" - Mollie

Fellows were instructed to complete a Foliotek ID page and include projects to showcase how they carried out their own initiatives in relation to The Center's values. To facilitate this process, Mollie and Emma created templates that guided fellows with reflective prompts and provided extensive support and resources to ensure student success. As fellows began working in Foliotek, they recognized the benefit of building their personal brand and were excited about the possibilities. Not only can their brand be used to demonstrate the initiatives of The Center, but also as a tool to market themselves to potential employers. Fellows especially liked how easy it was to share their brand with others via mobile access. In addition to the enthusiasm from fellows, the Foliotek initiative has also received positive feedback from the Dean, Dean's staff, and advisory boards.

"The feedback we got from them [the advisory board] was probably the most rewarding part of this. They were really excited about it; they said "Why don't more people have this? It's such a great and modern way to showcase yourself that's better than a resume!" - Emma

With a successful implementation of Foliotek, the Center now has a way to hold fellows accountable for their initiatives. Furthermore, since The Center has to recruit companies to sponsor the fellows, they can also use Foliotek as a powerful marketing tool. Instead of trying to relay information second-hand, recruiters are able to bring these stories directly to companies, donors, and alumni, showcasing exactly what the fellows are accomplishing.

What's next for the Foliotek initiative? This spring, new fellows will be coming into The Center and will be introduced to Foliotek. Mollie and Emma are already planning a few changes to make the initiative even more successful, including streamlining their training resources. Moving forward, Emma will take over the Foliotek Initiative when Mollie graduates. Reflecting on the experience, Mollie shares, " ... it's really awesome that I can help others showcase their leadership development because that's such a crucial part of who you are."


3 Things to Learn from Your Part-Time Job

"You have to start somewhere." We've all heard that saying and it's true. Most people don't become CEO of a multi-billion dollar company overnight. Just ask Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett; his first job was delivering newspapers. Now look at him!

Some might think delivering papers is a menial job that has no connection to his current position as CEO. But my guess is that Mr. Buffett learned quite a bit from his days as a paperboy.
alt For most of us, our 'starting somewhere' involves a part-time job during high school or college. Maybe it's babysitting, flipping burgers, waiting tables, or making copies. It's easy to see these jobs as insignificant, something to just pay the bills or generate a little fun money. But I think those part-time jobs are more than that. In many cases, it's our first experience working in the real world. We get to see how businesses operate. We'll have good experiences and bad ones. But most of all, it's our opportunity to develop some key employment skills and get a sense of what we might want out of our dream job. So, during your next shift at your part-time gig, be thinking about these three things:

WORK ETHIC

Your work ethic is part of your personal brand. In fact, one of my colleagues wrote a blog post that explains how everything you do affects your personal brand. Therefore, you shouldn't take it lightly ... especially since a strong work ethic is a trait that employers will look for when hiring a new employee. Your part-time job provides the opportunity for you to build this characteristic: don't cut corners, do everything to the best of your ability, meet deadlines, look for things that need to be done and do them (even if they're not in your job description) and go above and beyond to surpass expectations. Remember that your current boss could be a great reference when interviewing for your next position, so make a lasting impact.

COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Chances are, your part-time job requires you to communicate with other people either verbally or in writing. This is great news because communication is one of the top skills wanted by employers!
alt Utilize this opportunity to develop your communication skills (which includes listening). Do some research, read this article, pay close attention in your COMM classes and apply what you learn in the workplace. If you learn how to speak and write professionally, you'll be one step closer to your dream job.

WORK ENVIRONMENT

Be aware of your surroundings and how you respond to them. Are you energized after a busy lunch rush at the burger joint or are you drained? Do you enjoy working inside or outside? Working with others or alone? What about management style? Are you a self-starter or do you prefer instruction from others? Noticing how you react to these aspects of your work environment can help you choose a career path that is the perfect fit. Make a pros and cons list for your current work environment, identify your must-haves and look for them when searching for your dream job. A fun quiz like this one can also help you think about what work environment is ideal for you.

No matter what part-time job you have, whether it relates to your major or not, there is something to learn. And when you learn it, share it. When you have experiences that develop your skills (gracefully dealing with a difficult customer, juggling a variety of tasks, writing professional emails), create a Foliotek project and put it on your ID page or ePortfolio. When you're ready to start your career, these are the stories you should share with potential employers.

Related Posts:

What is Your Brand?
Show Your Work!
Your Virtual Handshake


Tell Me About a Time When ...

You follow the receptionist down a dark and narrow hallway to the scariest room in the building: the conference room. This is where your fate will be decided. Will you land your dream job and start a promising career or will you be stuck living in your parents' basement forever? You choose your seat wisely, hoping that your choice doesn't have some strange, hidden meaning that says you're completely wrong for the job. After the polite introductions, the dreaded interview questions begin. First, "Tell me about yourself." Then, at some point during the grueling process, you'll hear "Tell me about a time when … "
alt Ok, maybe it won't be quite that dramatic. However, if you want your interview to go well, you should be prepared to answer this commonly asked question. When you're asked "Tell me about a time when," your interviewer is asking you to tell a story. Maybe it's a story of overcoming a challenge, solving a complex problem, or dealing with a difficult customer. The best way to prepare for this question is to have a few stories up your sleeve.

Know the job requirements

Refer to the job description and determine the requirements of the position. The goal of your story is to communicate that you have the skills required. Look through some common 'Tell me about a time when,' questions and try to anticipate what questions you might be asked.

Think about your experiences

Reflect on your past experiences, both personal and professional. Think about your accomplishments, personal growth, failures, and proud moments. How do these experiences relate to the requirements of the job? If one of the job requirements is teamwork, think of a time you had to work with others. What was your role on the team? How did you help the team accomplish your goals? Developing this story will help you communicate to your interviewer what they can expect from you in a team setting.

Write a story and practice

In order to turn your experiences into meaningful stories, you need to know how to tell them. Like all good stories, they should have a beginning, middle, and end. Building your stories around the STAR technique can be helpful when it comes to interview questions. The beginning of your story should describe the Situation and Task of your experience. The middle will be the Activity or Action you took. The end is the Result of your action. Once you have your story, practice telling it out loud so you appear polished and professional....like this:

Share your stories

You don't have to wait until an interview to share your stories. Use Foliotek Projects to showcase your experiences to potential employers. Including stories (projects) on your ID page or ePortfolio will give employers a better idea of your skillset before you even meet.

The last thing you want to do in an interview is stumble around trying to think of a decent story to tell. Take the time to write, practice, and share your stories, and that long walk to the conference room won't be scary at all.