Story by Taylor Eisenhauer
Photo Courtesy of Kayli-Kunkel.com
Do you have a personal website? Most Drake University students have a presence on the web, whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. But the trend has become for stuents to create their own websites to show potential employers what they can offer.
Haley Austin, a junior creative advertising major, is one such student. She was never required to create her own website for a class, but Austin said some of her professors recommended she make one. She used free website builder Weebly before finally buying her own domain name over winter break.
Austin uses her website — haleyeaustin.com — to showcase her work.
“I’m applying for a lot of internships that are coveted, and a lot of people want them. So I thought that it would be a good advantage to have an electronic portfolio/website combo,” Austin said.
Sandy Henry, an associate professor of advertising in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, recommends her students each have a personal website.
“It gives you a presence on the web,” Henry said. “It’s a location beyond Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest: all those places that tend to have more of a social, personal (aspect) to them.”
Henry said students can focus on their professional side. Even just using a template from WordPress (another free website builder), she said, shows the intelligence and skills vital to landing a job today.
Austin and Henry both shared their tips for creating a personal website.
DO: Make your website easy to navigate.
Visitors to your site should not have to hunt for information.
“It has to be an easy, understandable experience for the person who is coming to your website for the first time,” Henry said.
DON’T: Get too creative.
Henry said she has seen sites that are so creative, that not easy to find anything. You can have a fun design, but make sure your layout is not too cluttered.
Austin recommends simplicity in design.
“I like a lot of clean lines and natural-looking things,” Austin said.
She also suggests a maximum of only three fonts.
DO: Include samples of your work.
A website can certainly double as your online portfolio.
“I have writing samples that I’ve done (and) different creative work that I’ve had,” Austin said.
If you are a reporter, include printed work. If you are in advertising, it is good to post videos and PDFs of your work.
In addition to samples, it is a good idea to include a brief bio, a resume and a contact page. Austin even has a blog on her website.
DON’T: Include pictures of yourself.
“I’ve been told not to put pictures of yourself (on your website),” Austin said.
This was advice given to her by Henry, whose professional contacts said not to include personal pictures.
And having a personal website is not just beneficial for students. “In today’s marketplace, you’re never not looking for a job,” Henry said. “You’re never not trying to establish yourself as someone who is smart and on the leading edge of what’s happening in the world today.”
“A website gives you creative freedom to express your personality in ways that are not possible through your resume,” said Charles Pooley in a Forbes article. “Having an informative, well-designed website also sends a message that you take your career seriously.”