Digital skills for post-university life

“Social Media” flickr photo by magicatwork shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

How can technology be used to help prepare for post-university life?

There are many digital tools that can help students to start researching careers and building a positive online presence.

We look at tools useful to a student or to a tutor wanting to promote Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Create a webfolio

A webfolio can help a student to collate educational and work experience in one place as well as make it easy to share with prospective employers or institutions.

One option to create a free webfolio is to use the popular WordPress blogging platform. WordPress is primarily a blogging platform, however, it can also be used to create websites. WordPress currently accounts for up to 27% of all all websites.

How to create a webfolio?

Go to WordPress for your free account. You will be taken through five steps. The first is to decide what type of format you want. Select ‘A welcome page for my site’. Now choose a theme (you can change this easily at any time if you change your mind later). Next, add a domain. The final step is choosing your plan and if you want the free option then opt for ‘Free for life’. Finally, you create your account with a username and password. 

WordPress will give you a free domain such as ‘yourname.wordpress.com’. You can alternatively opt to purchase your own unique domain. You will need to pay for the domain (variable) and also pay a nominal charge to WordPress (roughly £10 per year) to ‘map’ this domain to your free WordPress webdolio. This is the cheapest method of having a webfolio with a unique domain.

Now that you have your own webfolio you can add it to your traditional CV, your email signature and your LinkedIn profile.

You may want to follow the following format as a template:

  • About me
  • Educational experience
  • Work experience
  • Special projects or work placement
  • Contact details

To create pages, go to WordPress Admin and click on the ‘Pages’ tab to add additional pages to the default ‘Home’ and ‘About’ template.

Get active on LinkedIn

“Sparse, scale-free network” flickr photo by sjcockell shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

LinkedIn can prove a useful platform for researching potential careers.

Ever wondered how to get into lab work, for example? Well, use the LinkedIn search and type in ‘Laboratory Technician’ (or whatever job you want to research) and then use the advanced search engine to look for all the profiles listed with that job title.

If profiles have been filled out to completion, you will be able to see what qualifications are needed for any chosen profession and also look at the work experience necessary to get a similar position.

This research can be helpful in building up a picture of what experience you need. You may also see the same employers coming up at the beginning of people’s careers in particular sectors, and this in itself can give you a lead into which employers are happy to take on new entrants.

There are further ideas in the post ‘Academics, are you LinkedIn?’ on how to get active on LinkedIn.

Curating content to show expertise

“collecting from the charity shop” flickr photo by annrapstoff shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

In the article ‘First year university student engagement using digital curation and career goal setting’ by Amy Antonio and David Tuffley of the University of Southern Queensland in Research in Learning Technology journal, the use of Scoop.it – a digital curation tool – was researched for effectiveness in student career research.

Researchers collated the results of how first year students were able to:

  1. establish and maintain a clear goal of their ideal future career and
  2. make use of a web-based digital curation tool to research and present their findings.’  

Students were set an assignment that required the use of Scoop.it to collect five pieces of content to complete a project on careers in IT.

The results showed that students were motivated by the use of Scoop.it and found it to be a ‘valuable research tool’ which they intend to use in future. 

If you would like to try Scoop.it, sign up at Scoop.it and select your interests. The tool will then literally ‘scoop’ for the latest content related to your search. You can then curate and publish in your own ‘Scoop’.

View this example to see how a scoop can look: Scoop.it for Inclusive teaching and learning.

Also see the HEA Starter Tools for Digital Curation for details on how to get started in digital curation and next steps. An additional recommended blog post on digital curation is Learning through finding, choosing, sorting and sharing by Dr Anne Hole (@AnneHole). 

A professional presence on the web

“Privacy” flickr photo by g4ll4is shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

When I graduated in 1998, there was no chance a potential employer could view my social life unless I lived in a very small town with one pub and one employer.

It’s different now.

As a student, you want to be confident that your private and professional life remain separate, and ensure that the impression you give employers is on your own terms.

You might find our post useful, ‘Facebook: how private are your privacy settings?.

Sue Beckingham, Senior Lecturer and Educational Developer at Sheffield Hallam University researches the use of social media in higher education. You can follow Sue Beckingham on Twitter @suebecks. Sue shares valuable information and resources about higher education, digital identity, communities and communication. See below for Sue’s recent Slideshares:

Talk to an expert

Whether you are a student, an academic or a professional member of staff, there are numerous online communities you can join that will prove invaluable in building a Professional Learning Network (PLN).

From these communities you can start to create external working relationships to support your career, find out more about ways to progress your career and extend your network beyond your geographical location.

The Learning and Teaching in Higher Education chat (#lthechat) is a chat that runs every Wednesday (8pm-9pm). See also David Walker’s Get connected – engaging online communities.

The weekly Learning and Teaching in HE chat created by the community for the community – Wednesday 8-9pm

You can also use chats for career exploration as a student. Guardian Careers (@GuardianCareers) regularly host career chats on a range of careers on the Guardian Careers Blog. To take part you can either create a free Guardian account or log in via your Twitter or Facebook account.

Here are examples of the Guardian careers live chats:

How to get a job in politics

How to use social media to get a job

How to make the most of graduate careers fair

Tips on breaking into film

What jobs can you do with an arts and humanities degree

Thinking of changing career into teaching

How to kick start a career in publishing

Tips on how a gap year can boost your career

How to get a job in humanitarian aid and relief

Need help?

If you would like and help in the use any of the tools mentioned in this blog post or would like to discuss using learning techology in your teaching, please do get in touch with your school learning technologist or email the Technology Enhanced Learning team at tel@sussex.ac.uk.

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We are the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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