I present to you Exhibit A: Erin Guzman, who graduated this May and is off to graduate school. She needed a job. She found one. Not because of the professional portfolio she had compiled as student, but instead from her online presence. Take note of her Facebook status update, which she graciously gave me permission to share:
I'm happy to announce that I've accepted a pretty sweet gig at the Vanderbilt Student Communications organization in Nashville, TN (courtesy of Brian's connections) as a designer for ads/publications. I just got out of my "try out" for the job, and my supervisor said something to me that I wanted to pass along to the rest of you.
I know that there are some students who think blogging/social media are far removed from what they want to do for their career. But my supervisor told me that the main reason he wanted to hire me was not because of my portfolio (which was a representation of the work I was seeking to do and the work they needed done), but because of my... wait for it... BLOG. He said the number one thing that sold me to him/the organization was my outside work and interests unrelated to my experience.
That being said, and I don't know how much one can say this, putting forth a good representation of yourself [online or anywhere] is crucial. It's probably THE most important thing you can do for yourself. Experience is a great thing, but sometimes it's the other stuff you do that can be the tipping point between you and another candidate. People aren't just "buying" your skills, they're also investing in you, and they want to know you can make a good impact on their company and you're a good personality to have around. This is also dependent on the job in question, but when there are many qualified candidates, the line gets drawn in other places...
So, returning students, be thinking about that as you're looking for jobs/internships in the semesters to come.
Just wanted to share that bit. --Hope everyone is having a good summer!
That just about sums it up, don't you think?