Foliotek Blog

Imani Steele: Building My Personal Brand

alt When we see a student get this excited about building her brand, we knew we had to get an interview to learn more. Imani Steele is a sophomore marketing major with a minor in business analytics and is a Fellow at the Center for Business Leadership (CBL) in Miami University's Farmer School of Business. One of the CBL's top priorities is creating improvement initiatives that are organized and run entirely by the Fellows (students) in the program.

In last week's post, we spoke with the Fellows responsible for implementing the Foliotek Initiative. Below is our interview with Imani which provides a student's perspective.

Foliotek: You are working on a separate initiative with your team. What did you learn from that experience?

Imani Steele: When you're on a team with phenomenal leaders that create a very diverse environment, you learn a lot. I've learned how to be an effective, inclusive leader and make sure that everyone's input is utilized. You can't get away from teamwork, collaboration, and diversity (some of my core values) in society.

F: At some point, you were told that you would be using Foliotek to showcase your own initiative. What was your first impression?

IS: The advisors informed us during our individual leadership lab in September that we would be using Foliotek to record our experience and how it relates to CBL's main values. I thought it [Foliotek] was really cool, and obviously there are many ways to promote your personal brand, but Foliotek can really showcase your individual and team projects, which I love.

F: What was the impact of using Foliotek to showcase your projects?

IS: Foliotek lets you go more in-depth when it comes to explaining and showcasing your projects. I was able to take time to reflect on what I actually did. The way the project templates were structured helped me not only talk about what I did on the surface level, but I was able to dig in deeper and talk about how it shaped me in my leadership and teamwork skills.

F: What value did you get from reflecting on your work?

IS: There is always room for growth. Being able to reflect on what you've done and document your growth, see your growth, and show your growth is really effective in crafting your professional and personal brand. Every application I fill out for internships, I always put a link to my Foliotek ID page. Foliotek has helped me with this because I can tell anyone to 'go to this website to see what I've done,' and [my projects] are right there with a click of a button. I don't think I could have thought of a better way of showcasing everything I've done while building my own authentic brand.

alt F: Do you think you'll continue to build your brand in Foliotek?

IS: Absolutely! I've even had to pull stuff from freshman year! I'm currently working on a project in one of my business classes and I will put it in there; any other project I complete from here on out will be going into Foliotek. When it [my ID Page] was done, I had to send it to my dad. Every time I talk to him, he wants to know what I'm doing in school. He thought it was really cool and was impressed! I now have a way to keep my parents up to date and show them that everything they are putting into my education really is an investment!

F: So, what are your next steps in the CBL?

IS: One thing I love about being a part of the CBL is that it's student-run. I'm excited to continue to be part of the CBL and come up with ideas for how the center can really be effective and continue to do things for the Farmer School of Business and Miami University as a whole. I have a few plans [for future initiatives] that would be really cool for inclusion and diversity within the CBL, and hopefully that could trickle down to the Business School as a whole.

F: We've really enjoyed being a part of this improvement initiative at your school. Fellows are creating strong, professional brands that reflect highly on the values of the CBL and Miami University. Thanks so much for taking the time to meet with us today.

IS: Thank you for letting me have this opportunity!


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."