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IOWA Advantage Offers Web-Based Portfolio for UI Students

Facing a potentially tough job market after graduation, University of Iowa students have an advantage -- the IOWA Advantage program ,where they can create a web-based portfolio of work samples for prospective employers.

The Career Center is encouraging students to take advantage of this program early in their college careers. The program gives them one-to-one counseling on how to set up their portfolio on a website, says Phill Seebeck, who coordinates the IOWA Advantage program.

An electronic portfolio is a collection of a student's work that shows their efforts, progress and achievements in college, going beyond the limits of a traditional résumé. A portfolio is not limited to bullet lists, but instead allows the student to include class projects, research, writing samples, letters of reference, evaluations, internships, volunteer work and any other items that show a student's abilities and skills.

"By assembling a portfolio, students will gain better focus and direction in their career planning. Students entering today's competitive workplace require a wide variety of skills, and IOWA Advantage helps them understand what they can offer to employers and graduate schools," Seebeck said. "Employers tell us again and again that seeing work samples helps them understand the student's capabilities much better than the usual interview can."

Students build portfolio in the IOWA Advantage computer lab located in 24 Phillips Hall, working with a fellow student who can provide technical support.

LaTisha Birkeland, a junior at the UI majoring in business found working on her professional portfolio and speaking with the IOWA Advantage Advisors gave her an advantage that she would not be able to get anywhere else.

"IOWA Advantage has been beneficial to me because it has taught me how to effectively present my knowledge and experience to potential employers. A simple resume doesn't do the trick anymore to get you that job of your dreams," she said. "When you show an employer your professional portfolio it is that one thing that will make you stand out."

Alicia Rau, who graduated from the UI in spring 2000 graduate with degrees in music and anthropology found that IOWA Advantage helped her prepare for post-graduation experiences.

"It pushed me to think past school, prepare for what was coming next, and become a well-defined job seeker," she said. "I only regret that I did not join IOWA Advantage sooner than my final semester at Iowa, because there were so many more benefits I had no time to experience."

Any registered UI student may enroll in IOWA Advantage, but Seebeck finds that students need about a year of job-related activity to accumulate enough work samples in the electronic portfolio. He adds that seniors can still use IOWA Advantage, fast-tracking through the process as the approach graduation.

Students can enroll online by completing an online form; they are then assigned a program manager and given a skills inventory. Students then make an initial appointment with their advisor, where they develop a plan for completing a portfolio and set up follow-up meetings during the semester to check on the progress of the portfolio. A "Taking Advantage" Conference is planned in October to further discuss web page software and career development topics.

There is a $50 per semester fee for IOWA Advantage, which covers access to the computer lab, 6 MB of web space plus the latest web software, scanners and other hardware. For more information, contact Phill Seebeck through the Career Center, (319) 335-1023 or phillip-seebeck@uiowa.edu. Sample portfolios may be viewed at the IOWA Advantage website at www.uiowa.edu/~careers/iadvan.


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