One of the first two graduates of Penn State’s shared Corporate Communication program, Shawnna Meyers, will be graduating this May, and she contributes a lot of her success to her professional e-portfolio.
Recently, we asked Meyers to share her story with us and explored how the use of e-portfolios and being part of a shared academic program has helped her succeed, both in college and in acquiring her first career-related job.
Shared programs are academic degree programs that operate as one program across multiple campuses. One such program is the bachelor of arts in Corporate Communication, which is offered as a consortium by Penn State Hazleton, Schuylkill, Wilkes-Barre, and Worthington Scranton.
E-portfolios are digital portfolios that can be created through various online platforms, and Meyers took advantage of Sites at Penn State to create hers. Resources for creating e-portfolios at Penn State can be found through the Portfolios at Penn State website.
“Digital portfolios allow authors to work in and through multiple forms of media and in ways that are personally meaningful,” said Heather Hughes, campus learning design consultant and Portfolios at Penn State project lead. “In addition to showcasing achievement and reflection, digital portfolios are ideal spaces for collaboration and feedback.”
Meyers, 25, graduated from West Scranton High School in 2008 and has an associate’s degree in Business from Lackawanna College. During her time at Penn State Worthington Scranton, she has completed three internships, has been named an outstanding Corporate Communication student, and one of her articles has been recently linked in an NBC News story about FitDesks.
Meyers has also been serving as vice president of education for the Penn State Worthington Scranton Toastmasters Club, where she is also one of its founding members, and she is a Lion Ambassador and member of the business club. She will also be serving as a student marshal at commencement. In her free time, she said she enjoys traveling to new places, hiking, fishing, reading, watching her favorite television shows, and going to the movies.
I understand you will be one of the first graduates in May of the Corporate Communication shared program between Worthington Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Schuylkill, and Hazleton. Why did you choose this program?
I chose this program because I was in the Business (marketing and management) program and knew that I liked the marketing aspect of business, but really didn’t like anything else about it. I knew I didn’t want to own my own business, or do accounting; I didn’t want to be a manager or work in finance. I liked marketing but even that I was a little unsure. I had already received an associate’s in Business at the time, so I had some knowledge of business.
I had a professor for an entrepreneur class, John Drake, who I met with and asked for some advising. He pointed me in the direction of Dr. Eva Tettenborn, who educated me on the new Corporate Communication program on campus. I did some research and was extremely interested in what I found with the program. I love to write and realized communications was definitely a good fit for me.
You were lucky enough to acquire a job before graduation, and I understand that your professional e-portfolio is what the employer told you that set you apart from other candidates? How has creating your own e-portfolio personally helped you better prepare for life after college?
The e-portfolio is definitely what got me the job. I went into the interview for an internship and when I mentioned my e-portfolio, the interviewer was pleasantly surprised by it. He gave me his card and told me to email it to him after the interview was over. He did mention that it set me apart from other applicants. The world is consumed with technology that is ever changing, and I think if you’re able to stand out by creating an e-portfolio where you can have all of your information (resume, articles, about me, and contact form) in one place it shows you are able to use technology to make it easier for the interviewer to have one place to look instead of several.
After being an intern for a few weeks, my employer offered me a full-time position for after graduation. I realized working communications within an IT department that being able to navigate Sites to create an e-portfolio is a great skill to have. The more knowledge you have of technology and being able to use it, the more it will benefit you. My e-portfolio is something I can transfer over to another site after graduation and continue to use throughout my career. I can always add to it or update it easily to keep track of my experience and accomplishments.
What would you say are the key benefits of creating an e-portfolio?
I personally like having all of my information in one place. My resume is on there and I have an about me section with some pictures of myself being involved in a variety of activities. I have a contact form to easily contact me, along with a link to my LinkedIn account. I have a section that links to all of the articles that I have written, which is one of the most beneficial parts of the e-portfolio for me.
When I was interning in the community relations office at Penn State Worthington Scranton, I began writing a lot of articles that would be published on the Penn State Worthington Scranton website. I kept thinking about how I would use these articles as samples when applying for jobs, but I wasn’t sure how to organize the links to get them all together for employers. The e-portfolio does just that for me. Also, like previously stated, employers find the e-portfolio impressive especially since they don’t see it often.
How has the Corporate Communication shared program helped better prepare you for your future career?
Well, one way the program helped prepare me better for my future career is by being self-sufficient. My position is a communications specialist within the IT department at TMG Health. My job is to rebrand internally and increase employee engagement and also to help with externally bringing in interns to hopefully end in a full-time position also. In order to be successful in my position, I need to be creative but also need to be able to come up with ideas on my own. I report directly to the VP/CIO of the company; he has a vision and it’s my job to design a plan to make that vision happen.
In the Corporate Communication shared program, I needed to find classes that weren’t always offered at my campus, since it was such a new program, in order to graduate on time. I would talk with my advisor about the courses I needed to take and that they weren’t offered, and she would help me contact the correct campus to get into the courses that I needed. I personally took a credit overload my last two semester, 24 and then 28 credits in order to graduate while completing two internships, working part time, and being involved in several clubs and organizations. It was very difficult, but I knew I wanted to graduate and that it was possible.
The courses’ not always being offered was difficult and frustrating at times, but as time went on with help from advisors, it became easier. A good amount of my courses had to be online, which required motivation, organizational skills, and dedication to the course. You need to have self-starting skills to continue to do the work and have great time management to stay up on deadlines. I think all of this has prepared me for my current role in communications, especially since I will be creating a communications plan on my own for the department.
Being able to connect with professors from other campuses was helpful. The writing assignments — such as articles, brochures, press releases, and other writing assignments in my 400 level CAS and CC classes — definitely helped me with both my internship and my position at TMG Health. I have had to interview and write articles several times outside of classes and the writing assignments have prepared me tremendously for this.