3 Reasons to Develop a Professional Portfolio

Whether you are actively job searching or are happy in your current position, we recommend you develop a professional portfolio.  Below are three reasons why.

  1. Show your competitive advantage. A portfolio is a great way to show your competitive advantage with a visual representation of your work.  You can highlight academic accomplishments such as a capstone project or thesis along with research and team projects.  Also consider adding professional documents such as your resume, introduction letter, certifications, presentations, and written or visual communication.  These items are called artifacts and will help you stand out to employers and show that you are qualified for a new opportunity or advancement.
  1. Track your career progress and prepare for performance reviews. Keep track of kudos you receive throughout the year along with professional accomplishments to prepare for a performance review.  These might be emails from clients, acknowledgements from your supervisor, or evidence of performance goals being met.  A portfolio is a great way to organize and showcase your hard work.
  1. Leave a lasting impression. Stand out to a potential employer by leaving behind a component of your portfolio after an interview.  That way, once you leave, they have something to remember you by.  This may consist of a few highlighted projects which represent you as a professional, or copies of kudos you have received.

If a professional portfolio sounds right for you, there are two types of portfolios to choose from—an electronic portfolio or a hard copy portfolio.  An electronic portfolio is a great option because it is easy to send to a potential employer or pull up during an interview or meeting.  You can also give the employer a CD or jump drive of your portfolio.  It is also a great way to organize your electronic documents!  To assist you in building an electronic portfolio we offer OptimalResume Portfolio Builder.  To get started, view our training tutorials.  The other option is to create a hard copy portfolio which houses your hard documents to bring to an interview or meeting.

A professional portfolio can take you one step further than a resume by visually showcasing both your skills and talents and praise for your work from others. Whether you are job searching or preparing for a performance review, we recommend you consider developing one!

For more great ideas to manage your career, attend our upcoming live webinar: Maximizing Social Media to Proactively Manage Your Career    Tues., Sept. 16, 12:00 noon Eastern. Register under Latest News on the Career Services Center home page at http://careercenter.waldenu.edu/

Written by Career Services Advisor, Andrea Obrycki

From Education to Counseling: Transition Steps into a New Career

Are you wondering what tools you’ll need in order to enter a new field?  Crystal is a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision (CES) student who left a twelve-year career in K-12 Special Education to transition into Counseling.  After obtaining her counseling licensure, Crystal applied to numerous positions with no results.  She then contacted Career Services for assistance with her resume and cover letter, and improved her professional branding and networking skills.   She learned how to communicate her qualifications to potential employers, uncover career opportunities, and become actively engaged in her new field.  Crystal’s activities included:

  • Experiential opportunities to gain experience: Obtained a Teaching Assistant internship at Walden and a part-time position as a Group Therapist at a residential home.
  • Professional engagement: Delivered a poster session at the Association for Adult Development and Aging (AADA) Conference.
  • Proactive job search and networking strategies: Tapped into her network of former colleagues and supervisors, attended career fairs, and connected with potential employers and interviewers through LinkedIn.  Through this process, she built her confidence and branding message to employers.

When Crystal attended a recent career fair for Education professionals, she brought a stellar CV and prepared her elevator pitch.  She had 4 interviews after the event that led to a temporary School Counselor position she will be starting this fall.  She is very excited about the opportunity to return to the school system in a professional counseling role.

Crystal attributes her successes to her Walden faculty and Career Services who provided encouragement and support during a difficult time.  Crystal’s advice to other students who are faced with challenging career transitions is to “start working with Career Services and seeking out positions in your field early in your program.”  Crystal is looking forward to a bright future and plans to teach counseling skills to other professionals as she continues to advance in her career.

Are you looking for ways to build your experience while pursuing your Walden degree?  Watch the video, Finding Experiential and Job Opportunitieshttp://www.screencast.com/t/O946xVP0YWQ

Written by Senior Career Services Advisor, Dina Bergren

Use Quick Answers to Find Walden Resources Fast

Are you searching for information and short on time?  Quick Answers can help you find information fast!  Just look for the search box at the top of any student support services website, such as Library, Writing Center, Academic Advising, and Career Services.

Type your question in the search box and the Quick Answers searchable database will find the answer and take you directly to the source of the information you are seeking.  Frequently asked questions related to Career Services include:

  • How do I schedule a career advising appointment?
  • Where can I find resume, curriculum vita (CV), and cover letter samples?
  • How can Walden students connect with Walden alumni?
  • Where can I apply for jobs at Walden?
  • Where can I find Field Experience information?
  • What are the career options and job opportunities in my field?
  • How do I get help with my resume or curriculum vita (CV)?
  • Where can I find jobs?
  • How do I access the OptimalResume system?
  • How do I find information on professional associations and networking?

Visit the Career Services Center website to find answers to your other career-related questions.

By Career Services Advisor, Nicolle Skalski

Book Review – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

In her book Quiet, Susan Cain celebrates the power of introversion.  She estimates that introverts make up between 33% and 50% of Americans and proposes that where we fall on the Introvert-extrovert spectrum is “the single most important aspect of personality.”  It influences our choice of friends and partners, how we make conversation, how we resolve differences, what careers we choose, and whether we will succeed at them.   

Famous individuals who have made significant contributions to a wide variety of fields have been introverts: Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Al Gore, Warren Buffet, Gandhi, Van Gogh, Einstein, Chopin, George Orwell, Charles Schulz, Steven Spielberg, and even Dr. Seuss!

Cain views introversion from a cultural point of view.  Introverts may describe themselves as: reflective, cerebral, bookish, unassuming, shy, sensitive, thoughtful, solitude-seeking and inner-directed.  Introverts generally prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying, and working on their own over brainstorming in teams.  Society generally seems to favor extroversion over introversion in many contexts.  In other words, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”  From a work standpoint, many employers encourage teamwork in offices without walls, where “people skills” are highly valued. 

Cain considers the positive sides to both extroversion and introversion in the workplace.  Extroverts tend to tackle assignments quickly and are more comfortable with multi-tasking, risk-taking and conflict.   Introverts tend to think more slowly and deliberately.  They like to focus on one task at a time and may have very strong powers of concentration.  Introverts may be excellent leaders and negotiators because often they have strong abilities to listen carefully, think things through, remain calm in stressful situations, and ask good questions.

My main takeaway from this book was Cain’s proposal of a Free Trait Agreement.  We can make agreements with ourselves to adopt behaviors from our opposite personality type when we are pursuing an important goal or “core personal project.”  For example, an introvert like Al Gore can deliver an engaging speech to several hundred people about a climate change, a cause he feels strong about. 

Considering a Free Trait Agreement in the context of career advancement, it may be challenging for someone with strong introversion to attend large networking events.  Cain would suggest making an agreement to commit to a certain number of networking events per month with the view that by networking now and landing a job more quickly, one won’t have to work so hard at networking in the future. 

To determine your core personal project, Cain asks: 1) What did you love to do as a child and what specific aspect made you love that activity so much?  2) What do you gravitate to at work?  Is it the work itself or the purpose/cause you are serving?  3) What do you envy?  The things you envy are clues to what you probably most want.

In closing this review, I offer two suggestions.  1) Please understand that extroverts, introverts and ambiverts (folks in the middle between introversion and extroversion) vary widely in their behaviors.  Therefore, it is best to avoid making assumptions and “typecasting” individuals based on their personality preferences.  Cain advises readers to take what applies to them and use the rest of the information to improve their relationships with others.  2)  If you don’t know where you fall on the introversion-extroversion spectrum, you might consider taking the Keirsey Temperament Sorter or the assessment on pages 13-14 of Cain’s book.  Both extroverts and introverts have amazing talents and gifts to offer and knowing that potential makes this book worth reading.         


Written by Career Services Director Lisa Cook

Book Review of Mash-up: How to Use Your Multiple Skills to Give You an Edge, Make Money and Be Happier by Ian Sanders and David Sloly

This book contains stories of individuals who combined multiple skills to create a patchwork quilt-type career rather than limiting themselves to a single job title. The world of work used to be a single track up a ladder where we became experts at just one thing. Now our economy and our jobs are very uncertain, with new types of jobs being created at a rapid pace. To stay employed, we need to be open to change, willing to learn new skills, and watchful for opportunities that use combinations of our skills. This is the “mash-up” way of thinking.

Tim Brown, CEO of a global design and innovation firm, introduced the idea of “T shaped” people in 2005, which demonstrates mash-up thinking. T shaped people have a principal skill – the vertical leg of the T. Then they branch out to other skills as well, which is the horizontal leg of the T. T shaped people can use insights from different perspectives and look for broader solutions in solving problems since they venture outside their primary discipline.

Mash-up thinking involves development of multiple skills, so it’s important to go beyond a job title in describing yourself. The authors propose a “personal unifier” to tie your skills together with clarity. To find this, you look for the common denominator in your skills. For example, a career counselor may be a blogger, a speaker at a conference, and a webinar presenter. The common unifier may be to “communicate career management strategies.”

To expand on your unifier, it’s important to be able to tell the story of what you do for a living and make it interesting. There are three elements to a good story: 1) the impact – you use this to grab the attention of your listener, 2) communication – you must clearly state what you want your listener to know, and 3) persuasion – you must influence your listener to take advantage of the service or resource you’re offering. (Sanders & Sloly, p. 116) To help you craft your story, ask people close to you 3 questions: 1) If you were to introduce me to someone and make a good impression, what would you say? 2) Name one thing about me that stands out. 3) Why would you buy my service or product? (Sanders & Sloly, p. 118)

Reading this book will nudge you to ponder how acquiring new skills might expand your work and interests to new areas. The authors call this “adding strings to your bow.” To choose new strings, ponder your recent work and ask: 1) What have you wanted to do but have not tried? 2) Where is there untapped potential? 3) What else could you offer? (Sanders & Sloly, p. 158)

I hope this book helps you to think outside your “job title box” and explore new areas for your career development.

Written by Lisa Cook, Senior Director of Career Services

Book Review: The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane

Can we strengthen our charisma or is it something people like Steve Jobs, Bill Clinton, Mother Theresa and Princess Diana were gifted with at birth?  According to Olivia Fox Cabane, it’s a myth that charisma is some innate quality we’re born with; charisma results from learning specific non-verbal behaviors.  The Charisma Myth is full of practical techniques and strategies to strengthen our personal appeal.

According to Cabane, charisma is critical in our careers and our personal lives.  Research shows that charismatic people are liked and trusted more and receive higher performance ratings.  They are viewed as more effective by their colleagues.

The three core elements for charisma are: 1) presence, 2) power, and 3) warmth.

Presence is focusing on the person we’re speaking to and tuning out all distractions, from background noise to our wandering thoughts to cell phones.  If we’re not fully engaged in listening to the other person, it will show up on our faces and will trigger a subconscious reaction in the other person.  We will be viewed as inauthentic, which is charisma Kryptonite.  So if we find our mind wandering when someone is talking to us, Cabane suggests directing our focus back to our breathing, the present moment, and then back to the person speaking.

Power is being able to affect the world around us through influence on or authority over others, money, expertise, intelligence, physical strength or social status.  “We look for clues of power in someone’s appearance, in others’ reactions to this person, and, most of all, in the person’s body language”  (Cabane, page 18).  Warmth is goodwill towards others – being perceived as benevolent, altruistic, caring, or positively impacting the world.  Warmth is assessed almost entirely through body language and behavior.

With regards to warm and power, people tend to accept whatever we project.  Therefore, charisma begins in the mind.  Body language is very important to charisma.  Our body language reflects what we think and feel.  Therefore, charismatic behaviors start in our minds.

Cabane provides practical strategies for replacing negative thoughts with positive ones supporting charisma.  There are four different charisma styles: the Authority, Visionary, Focus and Kindness Charisma styles.  We can pick the one best suited for us, depending on our personality, goals and the situation.  Lastly, she provides practical techniques for cultivating charisma in specific situations including making a first impression, making a presentation, handling a crisis or just writing an email.

I was intrigued to read this book because it had 4.5 stars from 239 reviews on Amazon.com.  I recommend Cabane’s practical strategies for cultivating a charismatic mindset to strengthen our relationships with others in our personal and professional lives.

Written by Career Services Director Lisa Cook   

Leveraging Temporary Work for Long-Term Career Success

Are you attempting to transition into a new field but lack hands-on experience?  Wondering how to close your qualification gaps?  Temporary work through staffing firms can be a stepping stone to full-time employment.  Jemal is a M.S. in Human Services student who leveraged temporary work to transition from retail into healthcare administration.  He shares his story with us:

The path to temporary employment.
A former colleague and friend posted a Provider Enrollment position on social media.   Jemal was interested in this opportunity and decided to contact the company directly.  When he inquired about the opening, the company referred him to the staffing firm they used to fill positions. 

New skills to increase marketability.
Jemal interviewed with the staffing firm, expressed his interest in working for the target company, and landed the temporary position where he gained knowledge and skills in healthcare administration.  Though this position, he learned how to process health insurance forms, manage the medicaid application process, and decipher medical terminology.

Steps toward full-time employment.
After 7 months at his temporary assignment, Jemal started searching for full-time positions where he could apply his new skills.  He decided to apply for a Patient Services Coordinator opening and contacted Career Services for resume and interviewing tips.  After his career advising appointment, he visited the Career Services website and utilized the Interviewing page to develop a strong introduction, highlight his skills in healthcare administration, and confidently address common interview questions such as, “Tell me a little about yourself.”

The skills Jemal gained through his temporary position, his interview preparation, and networking efforts, helped him land a full-time position as a Patient Services Coordinator.

The next career chapter.
Jemal is continuing to hone his healthcare administration skills in scheduling, prescription refills, in-depth medical terminology, and health insurance options.  His next goal is to become a Health and Medical Services Manager, which requires several years of experience. 

Jemal shares the following words of wisdom with Walden students who are transitioning fields,” Stay committed.  I used to feel I was ready to give up, then I jumped in headstrong [into the job search] and started to believe there was something in it for me.” 

Seeking to jump-start your own career story?  Watch archived programs on temporary, contract, and volunteer work, and attend the upcoming live Interview Café:

Interview Café:  June 25th, 1:00 – 1:45 p.m. Eastern Time

Targeting Temporary, Contract, and Virtual Opportunities     

Strategic Volunteering for Career Success

Finding Experiential and Job Opportunities


Written by Dina Bergren, Senior Career Services Advisor